It all started with a café in Instanbul. That’s where customers kept asking owner Şeyda Doğan Carter where they could purchase the mosaic-inlayed tables, only to be told she had designed and created them herself. This prompted the launch of her own furniture line, which has evolved into a full line of furnishings, home goods, apparel, and accessories. And the café is where the self-taught designer met Alexander B. Carter who visited the café while on vacation and ended up becoming the other half of what is now known as Turkish Modern.
“We take traditional Turkish design and try to do something new with it,” Alexander says, quickly clarifying “without ruining the original allure of it.” For instance, Şeyda designed her own version of a jumpsuit that is based on traditional Islamic men’s pants which she updated with a modern style top. Şeyda points to mid-century modern design as a major inspiration as well, which is perhaps most evident in the clean lines of the benches and tables built out of reclaimed Black Sea oak.
“Şeyda has all the talent,” Alexander insists. “She has all the talent, she designs everything, I just talk.” A well-developed skill thanks to his background in advertising and education. Şeyda and Alexander work closely to curate an expansive line of home goods and apparel and have even involved additional family members. The woven jacquard rugs with handstitched jute backing “are made the fabrics of a company called Penelope, which is an award-winning Turkish textile designer and maker – and is also Şeyda’s older sister’s company. Her younger sister is a graphic designer and she designs the rugs for us.”
Everything in their collection is handmade by local artisans (Şeyda even still makes some of the shoes herself!) As their business grew, success in their original store lead to a demand for online shopping, and eventually the couple started thinking seriously about opening a shop in the United States.
Why open the first US location in San Francisco? “People in San Francisco have all these bay windows, these little nooks, and we want to fill all the homes of San Francisco with our daybeds,” Alexander joked. Şeyda chimed in, “It’s the SF Daybed Project.” In actuality, the couple points to the many friends they have the city, but primarily to the opportunity to partner with their friend Coralie Tran of kids’ clothing company, Mini Chic. Alexander knew Coralie from his time in Paris and the two brands have collaborated on a “Mini Chic Rafiks” line of kids’ shoes. Collaborating on a store together was the logical progression.
Şeyda and Alexander also hope to work with local interior designers to create custom designs for homes, restaurants, and hotels in the US, as they do in Turkey and Europe. Alexander explains that the shop will be a place to showcase that ability. He says, “we want to have wood samples and examples of the work we do so people can come in and order our designs.” We expect to be seeing Turkish Modern in home tours soon!