TBY talks to two executives in the design sector on their international projects, brand inspirations, and current and past projects.
How has Autoban developed since you joined the company in 2004?
EFE AYDAR Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar founded Autoban in 2003, and when I joined the company it was still very small. For one and a half years we focused on small-scale projects. As our work started to get bigger, we began collaborating with corporate brands. Our most important partner was Vakko, which is one of the oldest fashion houses in Istanbul. We worked extremely hard to take advantage of Turkey’s growing economy. When we saw that the country was growing, we focused our time and passion on our work. We were in the office seven days a week.
What inspired the creation of the NEF brand?
ERDEN TİMUR We saw the need for standardization. You can’t have a really good brand if you don’t have standardization, and you can’t develop your business without standardization. The second gap was design. Developers all over the world really only design the façades and lobbies of their buildings. Yet the product is the place where the customer will spend six and a half hours every day, it is the most expensive product they will ever buy in their lives, and most people will own it for more than 10 years. From a customer point of view, and from my point of view, it should be designed not with regard only to interior design, but with complete product design.
What have been some of your favorite projects within Turkey and around the world?
EA In terms of design I like all of them. Emotionally, though, 163 was my first project, and it was the first project that we constructed and the first product we sold. This was the first project for which we received community feedback, and I have an emotional attachment to it because the community really liked it. People here liked it because it was cosmopolitan.
What are you working on now?
ET We’re constructing an office building that will be the first NEF 5. We won’t sell the building; it will be for our portfolio. It will be a landmark building for Istanbul. We’re also working on Bebekköy, which is a 68,000 sqm development in Istanbul’s Bebek district. The land and existing building once belonged to the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit, who gave it to the Jesuits. We bought that land and want to restore the buildings as a hotel. We are talking with Aman Resorts, Banyan Tree, Six Senses, and Viceroy. The rest of the 40,000 sqm area we want to donate and open up to Istanbul.
What is your company’s outlook for the future?
EA We will definitely take on a number of international projects. Today, only one-third of our projects are based abroad; we are usually engaged in six projects in Turkey, and one or two international projects. However, we anticipate the ratio to become more equal in the future, when we will be working very internationally on every continent.
ET Our aim is to give back everything that we earn, similar to a non-profit organization. Yes, we are a business, but I do not consider myself the boss. I am a family member who is working for a salary. We don’t do profit sharing. We build schools and give them to the Ministry of Education out of the money we earn, because I don’t need that kind of money, I only need my salary. So why am I working for that money if I don’t need it? My goal is to reach out to 10 million people; that’s my goal in life. I don’t mean that I want to sell something to 10 million people; I want to help 10 million people. This is part of our aim.
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