1953 - 1966

SADİ ÖZİŞ and KARE METAL

SALT

“We were trying to manifacture furnitures out of prepunched metal plates, which were used for production of nut or rice sieves.”
Sadi Öziş, 2008

“Sadi Öziş and Kare Metal 1953-1966” is a visual selection from the Archive of Architecture and Design, which was founded as a part of SALT Research in 2008. These archives  were brought together in order to expose a visual documentation of the architecture and design History of Turkey. The documents collected on design were collected with the aim of setting a chronological background of the Historical process of design practice in Turkey. Within this mission, the milestones of the design in Turkey were designated, then the archives of these persons or institutions were collected in order to compose a compact and objective narrative.

Kare Metal, known as the oldest label of modernist furniture in Turkey, is considered as the starting point of this process, with their modest manufacturing methods and simple but strong forms. Photos and documents, taken from Sadi Öziş, who holds the largest part of Kare metal Archive, supported with the oral History work, irradiate the history of the institution as well as the past of the furniture design in Turkey.

This visual selection attempts to expose the history of Kare Metal, its designing approach and its importance in its own time.

The design and production process of modern furniture in Turkey dates between 1950-1970. This time period is led by idealist designers educated at İstanbul Fine Arts Academy. Designers from this significant period adopted the production method of Bauhaus craftsmanship and preferred to use only local materials. İstanbul and Ankara were the two main centerlines of furniture production. In the early 1950’s, when the furniture market was especially poor in İstanbul, three artists of the Academy, Sadi Öziş, İlhan Koman and Şadi Çalık, also due to financial troubles, began to manufacture metal furniture with local and ready-made materials. This furniture, considered even at that time as avant-garde, was signed with the Kare Metal label.

İlhan Koman, working in the Kare Metal Atelier which was founded in the mid-1950’s at İstanbul Fine Arts Academy.
(from left to right) Şadi Çalık, Can Yücel and İlhan Koman in Paris at the end of 1950’s.
(from left to right) Can Yücel, Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman in Paris at the end of 1950’s.

A metal atelier was founded as a part of the Sculpture Department of İstanbul Fine Arts Academy in 1953. Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman showed a great interest in the atelier and began to produce metal sculptures. In 1955, they founded their own metal atelier, again, as a part of the Academy. The lack of interest in abstract sculpture during that period led the artists to design and produce furniture from metal. Artists began producing the first metal furniture in Turkey, which can be considered a milestone in Turkey’s design history. This was also an opportunity for the artists to reflect on their power as designers and their artistic tendencies by working on metal furniture-sculptures.

Installation, designed for the entrance facade of Lütfi Kırdar Sports and Exhibition Palace. Designed by İlhan Koman and Şadi Çalık, early 1950’s.
Chair, a Kare Metal interpretation of the worldwide furniture design trends of 1950’s. Designed by Sadi Öziş, mid-1950’s.
Chair, made with a similar design approach to “Wire Chair”, designed by Charles and Ray Eames during the same period. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, mid-1950’s.

Furnitures, produced by Academy Metal Atelier group were based on sculpture infrastructures and manufactured with ergonomic apprehensions. The artists were generating moulds out of sand and researching the ideal forms. They were fastening the moulds with plaster and finishing the designs by adding iron pipes on the bodies.

Chair, made with a similar design approach to “Wire Chair”, designed by Charles and Ray Eames during the same period. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, mid-1950’s.
Chair, manufactured by a structure made originally from a 15 millimeter waterpipe covered by a metal plate with holes, reflecting Kare Metal’s abstract geometry. Designed by Şadi Çalık, mid-1950’s.
Chair, made of woven straw and chrome. Kare Metal period, mid-1950’s.

İstanbul’s lack of material reach during the time, led the artists to use ready-made materials, which were produced for other purposes. Metal plates with holes, water pipes, and brass sieves have become the basic materials of the designs.

Chair, reflecting the form of human body. Knoll International showed an interest for the chair at the time it was produced. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, 1957
Chair, reflecting the form of human body. Knoll International showed an interest for the chair at the time it was produced. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, 1957
Lounge chairs, produced by İlhan Koman for Kare Metal, bringing together craftmanship with modernist precision. Kare Metal period, designed by İlhan Koman, 1957

The furnitures comprising abstract geometrical forms and produced by Öziş and Koman with the support of craftsmen like Ahmet Pilevneli and İsmail Sakız attracted the attention of architects and interior designers of the time. They began to recieve orders from important designers like Sedad Hakkı Eldem. Öziş and Koman, with the financial support of Tevfik Bey, the father of Sadi Öziş, and family friend Mazhar Süleymangil, founded the Kare Metal label in 1956. Kare Metal, which translated directly to “Square Metal” in English, represented four corners as the four partners of the firm. In 1957, sculpture artist Şadi Çalık, also a friend from the Academy, became involved in the firm.

Upholstered chair, as a Kare Metal interpretation of the worldwide furniture design trends of 1950’s. Designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, 1958
Upholstered chair, as a Kare Metal interpretation of the worldwide furniture design trends of 1950’s. Designed by Sadi Öziş and İlhan Koman, 1958
Leather upholstered newspaper rack is attached to polished stainless steel frame and the table top is transparent glass. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, 1958
Handmade chair. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950s

Kare Metal manufactured furniture until 1958. Their designs reflect the general design and production tendencies and opportunities of the worldwide post-war period. The use of ready-made materials and developing technologies inspired the design ideas of Kare Metal group, along with the ergonomic expectations. Water pipe and construction iron were the most suitable materials for furniture manufacturing due to the lack of accesibility of the time. The pipes provided by Asım Kocabıyık, the founder of Borusan, with the support of craftsmen from Perşembe Pazarı were converted into avant-garde furniture.

Circular chair, manufactured by a structure made originally from a 15 millimeter waterpipe covered by a metal plate with holes, reflecting Kare Metal’s abstract geometry. Rectangular tabouret comprises simple geometrical lines. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950’s
Fishnet chair is produced with original fishnet, woven around the metal frame, upholstered with different materials. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950’s.
Fishnet chair is produced with original fishnet, woven around the metal frame, upholstered with different materials. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950’s.
Fishnet chair is produced with original fishnet, woven around the metal frame, upholstered with different materials. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950’s.
Fishnet chair is produced with original fishnet, woven around the metal frame, upholstered with different materials. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, late 1950’s.

Limited technique and materials was the important factors that made Kare Metal unique. The artist, who used industrial materials without industrial production, reflected their understandings of abstract sculpture through the furniture. The simplicity of the furniture, produced with this craftsmenship, gave them great value.

Chair, manufactured by a structure made originally from a 12 millimeter waterpipe covered by a metal plate with holes, originally used as nut sieve. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, 1959
Chair, manufactured by a structure made originally from a 12 millimeter waterpipe covered by a metal plate with holes, originally used as nut sieve. Kare Metal period, designed by Sadi Öziş, 1959
Table on wheels, designed by Kare Metal in limited numbers on request. Late 1950’s.

Kare Metal group continued manufacturing until 1958 by receiving orders from main business figures such as the Koç and Süren families. They seperated in 1958 after İlhan Koman went back to working on sculptures and began preparations for the Brussels Expo. With Şadi Çalık’s leave soon after, Sadi Öziş became the only artist left with the craftmen. Along with Kare Metal, Öziş founded another design firm, Galeri T, with his partner Gevher Bozkurt in 1962 and continues working on furniture design and interior decoration until 1966. In 1966 he closed both firms and left for Paris, ending his career in furniture design.

Chair, reflecting a vernacular modernism rather than the western trend of that time. The original design, Flying Rumi, was designed by İlhan Koman in Kare Metal period and re-interpreted by Sadi Öziş in Galeri T period.
Table, Galeri T period, designed by Sadi Öziş, 1959
Coo chair is produced from oak and walnut with a Danish oil finish and designed for indoor use. Galeri T period, designed by Sadi Öziş, 1959

In 1958, several furniture designs of Kare Metal were published in L’Architecture d’aoujourd’hui magazine. Florence Knoll, the head of Knoll firm, showed great interest in the designs. Sadi Öziş met with several representitives of the firm in 1958. However, as he could not meet their expectations, their communications soon faded.

Kare Metal designs, published in L’Architecture d’aoujourd’hui no. 16 in 1958.
Cross Table, rechtangular Chair and tabouret
Tube Table and Wire Chair

Kare Metal, the avant-garde design group from 60 years ago, with its existence as a milestone in furniture and design in Turkey, its unique design and production approaches and its interesting history, tells of a different story, seperate from the mainstream writings of design history. Some of the furniture manufactured by Kare Metal still exist in private collections, as well as the personal collection of Sadi Öziş.

Sadi Öziş, together with Baki Aktar
Personal photo of Sadi Öziş
Credits: Story

Aslı Can, SALT Research
Based on Research commissioned to Gökhan Karakuş 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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