Istanbul: Traditions and Visibility

We got back from Turkey a week ago and I’ve finally found some time to write about what I saw there (today also marks a week since I came down with an utterly awful stomach flu- better now!).

Driving by taxi to our hotel, Istanbul seemed quite modern with sleek, new fountains and various architectural structures planted in and around the roadways.  When we arrived to our place and started exploring, however, the city turned more ‘byzantine’.

We were staying in the Old City.  This particular neighborhood, Sultanahmet, was filled with little shoe-making workshops, most of them whole-sale only (darn!).  It was interesting to see the men carrying huge rolls of leather around and rushing about the cobblestone streets with their box-heaped rickshaws.

Shoe molds piled on the streets

Gotcha heels and soles right here! (Indirim=discount)

Samples at a wholesale shop. Pretty cute.

We also were able to sneak a peek at a woman making a traditional Turkish rug.  The pattern looked so intricate… I can’t imagine what patience a person must muster to complete one of these beauties.  The asking price for a smaller rug (about 2X3 or 4 feet) is a few hundred USD.

Amazing! Turkish rug in the making. The finished part is at the bottom.

Closeup of the pattern

There were also little shops where you could create your own piece of jewelry.  Simply pick out the type, shape, and size of stones hanging from strings about the store and in minutes, you’ll have your own tailor-made bracelet or necklace.

Lovely stones. These are the beads you can use to create a personal item.

Of course the Grand Bazaar was a materialist’s paradise (or hell).  The colors and scents put one in a trance and it is riddled with inspiration.  Yet, my favorite part of the trip was the visible craftsmanship of Turkey, still very much alive.  In the States, our shoes and rugs are primarily shipped from China and we will never see the hands who made them.  Here, you walk down the streets and smile at those craftspeople.

Traditional kilims and rugs.

Sasha and baby Milo checking out some journals at the Old Books and Antiques section of the Grand Bazaar.

Remember these!? Color inspiration… yes, I bought one.

P.S. If you’re ever in Turkey, The Istanbul Modern is a lovely change-up that will bring you to present day.

William Morris

The man himself (via

The man himself (via

It’s been said that this guy was the most influential designer of the 19th century.  I believe it- check out these patterns! William Morris started the English Arts and Crafts movement, an anti-industrial revival of traditional craftsmanship.  Morris wore many hats.  Aside from being an accomplished textile designer, he was a scholar, writer, poet, socialist, and environmental campaigner.  The company that the designer created along with his buddies Peter Paul Marshall and Charles James Faulkner is still going strong today.  Morris & Co. offers those same patterns of the artist as well as new interpretations of the originals.  Lovely, intricate prints that are so fresh and timeless.  Brava, Morris.  Brava.

P.S. If you find yourself in London, you can visit Morris’ home.  Though I might be tempted to stuff one of his pillows into the extra-large bag I would just happen to be carrying.

Fruit Wallpaper (1864) (via

Fruit Wallpaper (1864) (via

Marigold curtains (1875) (via

Marigold curtains (1875) (via

Pimpernel.  Morris had this design as wallpaper in his dining room (via

Pimpernel. Morris had this design as wallpaper in his dining room (via

Artichoke.  Yum.  (via

Artichoke. Yum. (via

Tulip and Willow design wood-block fabric (via

Tulip and Willow design wood-block fabric (via