There are people that you meet with that you remember for long and for the best. Gaye Cevikel is one of them, very much inspirational. Our paths crossed as I was launching my blog back in 2008. I first heard about her through some journalists and PR friends from the design community and finally met her on Maison & Objet, one of the most important trade for the industry in Paris. Gaye is from Turkish origins and she made it her goal to use her cultural background and local heritage in the crafts arts to leverage a then and still innovative approach to launching, running and sourcing designers. Sourcing my not convey the right idea since Gaye is the kind of personn who wants to create not only objects but pieces that are part of a story. A story that includes genuine friendships and common state of mine and vision between the designer and her own team at GAIA&GINO and that is relevant enough to become reality when put in the hands of artisans. A business entrepreneur she is part of this generation that goes beyond figures (and once again for the better), emphasizing the role of soft power in the management of creative industries ventures. It is refreshing to check out with Gaye what’s up and how things have been going. So this is just a few days after Gaye is back from ICFF in NYC where she was invited to discuss about Turkish power in design, as part of a Wallpaper magazine talk.
Business Madame : You started your company in 2004 just when there was a boom in the design world, mostly in Europe. Before that the design industry was certainly not as sexy and broadly talked about as it is today. How did you benefit from this shift ?
Gaye Cevikel : I launched GAIA&GINO together with the first product line designed by Karim Rashid at the end of 2004. Even at that time design industry was not as appealing as it is today. Our biggest advantage was coming from Turkey, which was an unknown territory in the design world… Using Turkish cultural elements in our products differentiated GAIA&GINO from the rest of the design brands in the marketplace.
BM : Along the last ten years you chose to work with talented designers amongst which Andrée Putman, Defne Koz, Jaime Hayon, Arik Levy, Brad Ascalon, Harry Allen, Karim Rashid, Nendo, Sebastian Bergne and Yves Béhar. How do you select them, on which criterias ? What is the part of risk when chosing lesser known designers ?
GC : The designers I collaborated with are all multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and their design language corresponds with our product identity, which is organic. GAIA&GINO is very emotional, so we don’t have any corners. Besides that, I should have a great synergy with the designer I am working with, we should share the same passion which brings out a wonderful product. It doesn’t matter whether they are very well known or lesser known. At the end of the day, it is the product which sells even if it is designed by an emerging designer.
BM : And you tend to work with architects as well such as David Adjaye or more recently Juergen Mayer. How different it is to work with architects and designers ?
GC : If you look at our products, there is always and architectural and sculptural element in them. Collaborating with architects is not very different than industrial designers, it is just that they use a smaller scale. The other important thing about architects is they are like mathematicians, always working with numbers and calculations.
BM : You made a name out of working with artisans and producing art like pieces handcrafted although very much affordable. Comment please.
“My biggest dream is actually to bring back the copper craftsmanship which is really a great value in the southeastern part of Turkey“
GC : All our products are handcrafted, I am staying away from machine produced products since this is not something I am interested in. Especially glass is my passion, that’s the reason I made a partnership with Verreum, Czech blown glass manufacturer. It is amazing to see the glass masters and craftsman blowing our products either freely or into a wooden mold. My biggest dream is actually to bring back the copper craftsmanship which is really a great value in the southeastern part of Turkey.
BM : Since 2013 you partnered with GGV Design Partners also in charge of the creative direction for sister company Verreum. How did this happen ? What is your new role ?
GC : As I said I am in love with blown glass and we were producing all our glass products in Czech Republic since the beginning of GAIA&GINO. Verreum was one of our suppliers who has an amazing double walled blown silvered glass. I always wanted to partner with a manufacturer and therefore, made the proposal to set up a new company in Czech Republic to Verreum’s founder, Pavel Weiser. It started like that, so my partner Pavel is managing the operations of both brands, GAIA&GINO whereas I am managing the creative direction, marketing and sales of Verreum as well as GAIA&GINO.
BM : What are your latest and up coming projects ?
GC : GAIA&GINO is always in the high end luxury home accessories segment of the design market. We have added lighting as a new category besides the table top accessories and there will be a higher category as limited editions under GAIA&GINO. Verreum, on the other hand, will be developed as a wider range home accessories brand with mid-level pricing with a strong design focus.
Some of the designers that were part of the sucess of Gaia&Gino and contributed to showcase a different approach to design : smart and innovative meets tradition, affordable luxury, …
Gaye commits herself to enabling designers to create beautifully handcrafted objects demanding ‘savoir faire’ of artisans such as glass blown masters. Here below french designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance blowing glass in the tradition of the Czech craftmen at Verreum.