“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
— Aslı Can, SALT Research
— Based on Research commissioned to Gökhan Karakuş