A new generation of design stores in Istanbul is inspiring visitors and locals alike with refreshing new ideas in their multi-functional spaces. We’re taking you on a tour to some of these exciting venues, from Çukurcuma and Nişantaşı to Maslak.
As soon as you set foot in Mae Zae you almost can smell your grandmother’s tea on the stove, and you could swear that you’re looking at the glass vase from your childhood on the mantelpiece. This basement store is hard to describe: it's part office, part design and antiques store, part café.
It’s even harder to distinguish what’s for sale, what’s part of the decor or the owner Münire Alabaz’s own collection. You can see a hat by a New York designer sitting on an antique side table or a modern necklace inside a 19th century display cabinet.
You might be upset to find out that the carpet you’re stepping on or the incredible painting on glass is not for sale, but you’ll definitely find the books in the bookcase or the ceramic vase over the bar inspiring. Mae Zae is ideal for a coffee break in front of the fireplace, a lunch meeting to brainstorm new projects or a shopping spree for friend's birthdays. maezae.com
Related: The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul: a guide
Originally founded as a sophisticated furniture store in Tophane, Hamm now boasts another shop in Nişantaşı, where Hamm’s own furniture is shown alongside work by other independent designers. The founders call their spaces ‘goods production areas’ since they actually produce all the furniture that they design and share with people.
The furniture, objects and other functional products at Hamm all have a sense of timelessness. With no reference to any school of design, their furniture can be used forever and could be passed on to younger generations.
With their six in-house designers, Hamm is inspired by natural materials, the craftsmanship of the artisans who work with them and the customers who buy their products. Apart from their own furniture, Hamm sells Happily Ever Paper notebooks, Chouchette pillows, Mesele ceramics, Paratoner lamps and Müz terrariums. www.hamm.com.tr
Speaking of terrariums, the first brand to offer handmade versions was Müz, who opened their own design store in Çukurcuma last year. With elegant geometric glass cases and tiny but sturdy succulents, Müz’s (Turkish for Muse) terrariums soon became the favourite house gift in the city. The store carries beautiful handmade vases, Yuka Jewellery made by Güliz Mustafaoğlu, Kilimini wall kilims as well as Petra Coffee. www.muz.se
The impressive team at RB Living share all kinds of inspiring objects they’ve collected from around the world in their showroom. Souvenirs they have brought back from their travels, books they have read, movies they've loved all go into the new ideas which they develop in their designs. RB Living hosts get-togethers with local and international designers, photographers and artists, organises concept parties, and designs customised furniture and living spaces. rb-living.com
Hiç Contemporary Crafts
One of the best-kept secrets in the city, Hiç Contemporary Crafts is a favourite with home decor junkies. If you like ethnically-inspired art and crafts, this might be your kind of design store. Handwoven rugs, tapestries, ceramic cups, pillows, design objects, furniture, and bold splashes of colour give this Tophane store a stylish ethnic vibe. www.hiccrafts.com