Istanbul, Turkey

kümülatif is a collaborative, experimental design studio founded in Istanbul in 2014. Partners Ayşenaz Toker, Billur Turan, Necdet Şahin, Melih Kayhan, and Mert Kayhan launched kümülatif as an alternative, non-hierarchical initiative to explore a collective approach to creativity. Questioning conventional design-production relationships, the studio aims to define design as a democratic, shared experience, and to share authorship and earnings equally amongst its members. The process is their priority—as opposed to the end product. As a result, kümülatif’s designs are characterized by an overarching working philosophy, rather than a particular aesthetic.

The studio works without a fixed location. Instead, for each new project, kümülatif invites a set of collaborators from various disciplines together to respond to the cultural, material, and economic characteristics of a chosen location. The studio’s first project, called The New Industry (2014), took place at the İstanbul İkitelli Industrial Site. Here, according to the designers, “We lived, observed, tinkered, drew, and made together.” They immersed themselves in the environment, together with designers Fernando Laposse, Florie Salnot, Klemens Schillinger, and Osman Can Özcanli. The project resulted in six new products, incorporating laser cutting, CNC routing, metal cutting and polishing, and embroidery. Their collaboration “push[ed] these processes to their limits while allowing the qualities of the machinery to inform the aesthetic of the objects.” The designs—including vessels and mirrors, among other accessories—were composed of simple, if somewhat ambiguous forms, in raw materials such as aluminum, copper, textile, and leather. They were ultimately presented at London Design Festival 2015. 

The partners met as friends in the late 2000s. After earning their degrees, and working for a few years in London, they returned to Istanbul to launch kümülatif. The studio’s core team consists of two product designers, a graphic designer, a production specialist, and a social scientist: Ayşenaz Toker (born in 1984 in Istanbul) received her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Product Design from Middle East Technical University (2006) and her Master’s degree in Design Products from London’s Royal College of Art (2009).  Billur Turan (1984, İstanbul) has a Bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Technical University (2006) and a Master’s degree in Design Products from London’s Royal College of Art (2010). Notably, Toker and Turan first met at the RCA, and went on to work together at Faye Toogood’s design studio in London from 2010-2013, as Head of Product Designer and Product Designer (respectively). Necdet Şahin (1985, Ankara) studied graphic design, obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Bilkent University (2005) and his Master’s degree in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts London (2009). Melih Kayhan (1985, Istanbul) earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Istanbul University in 2007.  Mert Kayhan (1982, Istanbul) has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from İstanbul Kültür University (2004) and a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics (2005). As of this writing, he is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.