''I Love To Say Much with Less, As If Writing a Poem''
Hakan Külah.ı, the founder of Art Mim, who started working in a small workshop and turned his production capacity into a big investment with two factories, directs the design world with his designs by combining new technologies with original projects. Also achieving successes abroad, Hakan Kulahci has carried out more than 100 hotel projects in Turkey and abroad. An experienced interior architect who has long lectured at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture of the Department of Interior Architecture at Akdeniz University, gives clues to young talents to make a difference in design by thinking freely. Organizing programs in the art gallery he has founded beside his busy schedule, Hakan Kulahci describes the secret of his success in becoming a brand in the tourism sector as “authenticity evolving continuously to new and better”.
How did the adventure to become one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking about design sector, where you started the business by small initiatives, begin and progress by entering small business steps?
We started the business with my wife, who is an architect. Then we had to start manufacturing. Because there was no one, who could manufacture the products, which we designed, in the same quality. We became partner with one of my friends, who makes furniture. Later on, we decided to continue with my brother. We had a workshop in Eski Sanayi Sitesi (Old Industrial Estate). We added a story each year and made it bigger. The tourism sector was developing rapidly with hotels in those years. I thought that it would be better to branch out. Then we moved to Organized Industrial Zone. The scale of the business has changed after that. We started to work with a much more advanced system and equipment. The production became more efficient and higher quality. When we outgrew and Antalya became smaller for us, we expanded our space inside Turkey. Then the foreign tourists who liked decoration we made for the hotels started to ask us if we would offer service for them. We expanded abroad by such connections. Currently, we carry on business in several countries. My daughter and son-in-law, who are interior architects, have also joined us. My son also studies interior architecture. We, as whole family, are all engaged in architecture.
You work mainly with the tourism sector. You are well known in the sector with your distinguished works. Was it difficult to achieve it?
I have been currently working with about 130 enterprises in the tourism sector. I worked so hard to achieve what you said. I’ve worked very delicately in each work I started. I’ve always tried to design down to the last detail. I have been working in this sector for more than 30 years. I can say that it is tiring, but also pleasant.
How would you describe your experience in giving lecture to young people at Akdeniz University?
I have been giving lecture at Akdeniz University for 16 years. Being together with young people makes you more creative and directs you to think in a more contemporary manner. While I teach new things to newly professionals, my way of thinking is renewed and developed.
Design is one of the courses of arts, where creativity is most utilized. What are the main characteristics of the style you determined?
I usually design in accordance with the concept and target audience of the enterprise I work for. However, I try to reflect a more contemporary style in the works that are completely left under my control. I make use of contemporary design, natural materials, natural wood and stones. I prefer a fresh look with soft colors. I try to use the textures found in the nature as much as possible. I offer classical designs in a modernized interpretation. In this way, I try to create living spaces. A minimalist design is actually much more difficult than traditional. When you design a space with simpler and less materials, your work becomes much more difficult. Because it requires you to think in a much more detailed manner to be able to keep such a design balanced and offer it. You have to express all you want to say with just a little data, as if writing a poem. I really love this challenge.
The interior architecture of Barut Hotels bears your signature. What kind of a concept has it been created by in the eyes of its designer?
It is so pleasant to work with Barut Hotels. Because the perception of aesthetic is high, and they know what they want. The walls of the hotels are decorated with the paintings of famous artists. Better works are produced with this approach. When creating a space, it becomes more valuable by the objects in it. Those who come and use that space also feel valuable with those values. We built Akra, Acantus and Lara concepts by a modern line. From the objects used to the brick walls and the motifs of the carpets on the floor, everything makes you feel the transition from classic to new. It offers modernity and nostalgia together. We concentrated on natural colors and pastel tones in decoration.
''Art, Artist, Work. They Are All Subjects Of Tourism''
How were the art works that attract attention at first sight brought together in the facilities of Barut Hotels?
Having decorated its walls with the works of important Turkish and foreign painters, instead of copy paintings, Barut Hotels has an important mission in this respect. In Barut Lara, there are two beautiful paintings of Ekrem Yalcindag at the reception and his art works in the lobby. Special sculptures were made by the artists for the entrance of the hotel. In the other hotels of the group, the works of important artists such as Zeynep Eren, Tugrul Selcuk and Devrim Erbil are found. In addition to this, we organized a painting workshop with Barut Hotels last season. Young Turkish painters made painting there for a week. Those paintings are now exhibited in some parts of the Akra Barut. This investment to art set an example for the tourism sector. It is an important opportunity in terms of both introduction of our culture and artists to the world and providing a high quality ambiance for tourists. Barut Hotels took the first step in this regard. I think that other hotels will also follow them over time.