A grey mist swallows up Berlin but in a Cuvrystrasse apartment-turned-design studio at no.21, a wood stove sends comfort waves from the far corner, keeping the pace flowing for the eponymous duo of ISSEVER BAHRI: Derya and Cimen. Their welcome is as warm as the massive wool jumpers being respectively worn and in protest of winter, Derya is adamant about keeping on her wool beanie even indoors. Piping hot tea is mugged out of the kitchen – “conference room” – and conversation turns to our collective travels across Italy, France, Israel, Turkey, and rumours of Istanbul’s upcoming design-scene.
Against Derya’s dancing eyes and Cimen’s infectious smile, the banalities of the 40-some square metre space has no chance at holding this crew back from their dreams. With experiences at McQueen, Michalsky, and Boss (naming just a few) to propel them forward, ISSEVER BAHRI teamed up in 2010 and since, has had their label associated with PREMIUM’s “Young Designers Award”, “Start Your Fashion Business” Award, and of course Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runways. Excited to capture the details of their work, I get busy poking into the corners with a couple of cameras. At discovering the one green member of the studio, there’s piqued intrigue on the English pronunciation. “Kaaaaaak-tuss!!” leads to a flurry of laughter as all take their turn testing a hyper-American accent.
Also found are three movable floor-to-ceiling panels neatly hiding everything from threads and buttons in organised boxes, to research catalogues and back issues of fashion mags. But in the primary design space, what some might easily mistake for chaos, is simply an entire room that’s treated as sources of inspiration. There is no such thing as a blank wall; photos, cloth samples, woven trials, calendars, plans, memories, and brain-stimuli are tacked up and even the door to the kitchen is not left bare. It’s as if ideas were not confined to the walls of their creative minds and have taken residence on the physical walls of ISSEVER BAHRI.
To dig deeper into this team, see the INTERVIEW BELOW as ISSEVER BAHRI kindly speaks with GabrielDesigns on their personal interests.
+ What would you say is your favourite spot in Berlin?
-Issever Bahri | One of our favourite spots in Berlin is the VW library at Fasanenstrasse. The top floor is home to the UDK library, with a really good fashion, art, and architecture open-access library.
+ Are there any day-to-day necessities to be able to create?
-Issever Bahri | Well, definitely a coffee in the morning! Then all the important administration tasks have to be solved within the first three hours of the day. We need free-minds to be able to create.
+ What are your backgrounds? And how would you say it’s influenced you into founding ISSEVER BAHRI?
-Issever Bahri | We both are graduates of the Fashion Design course at the University of Applied Sciences, the HTW Berlin, that is where we met. During and after our studies, we worked for various labels (in various fields of the fashion industry) in London and Berlin, including Alexander McQueen, Six & Seven Eights for Fashion Fringe, Harriet’s Muse, Michael Michalsky, Boss, SAI SO and Macqua. Our experiences definitely influenced us and our work, but it didn’t influenced us in getting started with ISSEVER BAHRI.
+ To what or who would you attribute your strongest influence?
-Issever Bahri | For us, it is really important to take old traditions – like handcraft techniques – and put them into a modern context; combining old knowledge with the present. We want to create collections which have a new take on handcraft but still make it wearable, modern, chic and cool. We could say our cultural background is our strongest influence.
+ What generates inspiration for your work?
-Issever Bahri | It can be art, architecture, literature, music or even social-cultural aspects. But it always has something to do with us, something we experienced, or something to do with our background.
+ And what’s your process for design?
-Issever Bahri | Before every collection, we start with research. First is always the inspiration behind a collection. We dig deep and from there it develops towards a collection. This happens step by step. But the first and most important thing for us are always the materials and colours. We start with the research and from there we decide on the different materials.
+ Coffee or tea?
-Issever Bahri | In the morning always coffee. During the day tea.
+ Issever Bahri is a two-person project, how does your design partner compliment your work?
-Issever Bahri | We kind of do everything together. There are some aspects of the design process where we split, but we do compliment our work. One of us is in charge of the handcraft samples and the other for the drawings, just to get an idea. Or one of us is in charge of the production and the other for sales and pr. But we both do kind of everything together…
+ What is a favourite piece you’ve designed?
-Issever Bahri | Our Dress Crochet from the A/W 2011/12 collection.
+ Others have described your studio as “shoe-box.” How would YOU describe it?
-Issever Bahri | Well, it is really small. It kind of looks like the flat of a compulsive hoarder. But it is our mini-creative-cave!
+ Winter nights are finally here in Berlin; what’s your drink of choice?
-Issever Bahri | “Ada çay” translated means “mountain tea.” It is a mixture of different herbs and is really good for your immune-system and a sore throat.
Thanks for sharing Derya and Cimen!