Italian designer Mirko Tattarini considers himself a Creole Monster, having recombined DNA from all over the world! He is currently the interim art director of Getham Design Center in Gaziantep.

First of all could you tell us about yourself?

I was born and raised on the Amiata Mountain, a unique natural enclave in Southern Tuscany, Italy, homeland of visionary and anarchic personalities. I’m professor of Strategic Design at ISIA in Florence, Italy, founder and director of MRK Design Studios with headquarter in Florence and currently interim art director of GETHAM Design Center in Gaziantep. I deal with everything that can be designed from graphics to motion and branding, from furniture to interiors and buildings, then motorcycles, jewelry, movie making, packaging and labels, writing.

How did your desing career start?

Until I was almost 18 years old, I saw my future as being a sportsman since I was in the Alpine Ski National Team. Then I had a motorbike accident and it took more than a year to recover. My time as a professional skier had ended. Since my childhood I always spent a lot of time drawing and assembling things so, I looked around with this perspective and I’ve found the ISIA University dedicated to design. To prepare the entry exam –and to try to understand what was that mysterious thing named design-I knocked to the door of Francesco Teodoro, one of the designers of the Sacco chair. He nicely told me a few things and, later on, he invited me for a dinner where I’ve found myself sitting next to Achille Castiglioni! I was admitted to ISIA, I graduated and later on I became professor there.

What is a genuine desing

Design deals with behaviors. When there are new behaviors you can have real design dedicated to them. When design can determine new behaviors, again, is genuine. But when new products are just based on shape, on speculation, on eyecandy solutions, there cannot be design. In that case I just feel ashamed of being considered part of the design system. The problem nowadays is visibility. Apparently to become part of the design system visibility is necessary and too many colleagues and young designers are obsessed by achieving visibility, till sacrificing any value, independency, social aim in the name of it. I’ve heard too many times here in Turkey young (not only young…) designers saying they want to do unique things. Bullshits. First we should be able to make good things, to aim at good things. Than, maybe few times, maybe once in a lifetime, maybe never, we’ll be capable to invent something unique.

Who are you favorite desingers?

Most probably my main reference is Ico Parisi (Italia 19161996). A non-aligned designer, an extraordinary master whose fame is not proportional to the quality of his work. I cannot miss mentioning Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002) capable to transform everyday ordinary objects into masterpieces by recombining parts and elements, where the result is the extraordinarily sophisticated synthesis of complexity into simplicity. Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), a pioneer, mainly and wrongly just known for having been working with Le Corbusier, but a brave star herself. Charles and Ray Eames or Corradino d’Ascanio for granting us with the Vespa scooter that chan- ged so many lives. I was about to forget Jean Prouvee. And Enzo Mari, theoretician of militant design. In these times of peculiar politics I would like to quote him: “Design is an act of war, not an armistice with reality”.

You have universal studies, could you tell us more about it?

I think I just decided more to discover than undertaking a mainstream career. So I’ve found myself globetrotting, diving into different contexts, atmospheres and cultures. And it has been fantastic. I’ve learned -and I keep on learning- so, so much every time and everywhere. The beauty of working in contexts different than home, is that you discover, better, you raise, unknown parts of your soul. You become a different person, stili yourself but different. Because every place I go and I have to undertake a design adventure, I have to become part of that place, I have to dive in there. So to do design in the Balkans, in Asia or Africa, I must be partly Balkan, Asian, African. To do design in South East Anatolia I had to be partly Anatolian. So now I’m an Italian (and will be forever) designer with a re-combined DNA; little Antepian, little Serbian, little Bulgarian, little Japanese, Syrian, Chinese, French, American, Qatari, Caboverdian… and so on. A creole monster! I have something in mind for maintai- ning my ties with Turkey in the next future. But it’s still a secret I will tell another time if asked.

How did your story to begin in Turkey?

Actually I was in Turkey on motorbike already in 2004 and I made a trip from Izmir, going south to the coast, then to Cappadocia, then southeast to Urfa, Mardin, Hasankeyf, Diyarbakır, Batman till the Iranian border. In 2016 I received an email propo- sing me to be part of the GETHAM project. I decided to accept the and come to Antep to help establishing a Design Center.

Could you talk about Gaziantep workstation?

The context I’ve found myself dealing with is extremely comp- lex. It is a place -but every place is a situation- characterized by the concept of contrast. Contrast between past and future, where an incredible heritage cannot find the right links for future developments. Contrast between industry and craftsmans- hip, rarely finding a common field of collaboration. Contrast between residents and migrants. Contrast between richness and poverty. Back to Enzo Mari statement, design is not about flatly accepting the status of things but operating in order to fight the deviations of reality, in the light of ideology, in order to contribute making a better society. GETHAM project is a very unusual one, hopefully a milestone in the field of international co-operation, since we tried to apply design thinking to project management. Antep is a strange place, Anatolia, but already with a Middle Eastflavor. Industrialized, butwith a bazaarstill alive and not just an exotic sight for tourists. Hosting a design center, but nothing else about design running around. But now I have friends there, so it’s one of the places I can feel home. A place where the citizens are calling as city centre.

Could you explain how to work “Maps” with Artemis Halı? Is it the first time in designing carpet?

First, second or 999th doesn’t mean anything to me. Design is a methodology that, if well handled, can be applied to any the- me and sector. I strongly believe that for a designer specialization is not an added value but an evident limit. Who’s trying to do design should be able to dive into different social sectors, contexts, technologies and markets co- ming up with user-centered solutions. Design is not anymore just about “authors” delivering their art to industry. Design is nowadays a strategic discipline were designers works in order to make the right things for the compa- nies and the society. Products must be successful in the market, because if you consider them delivering a positive message, doing something good for making the world a better place, well, if they are not spreading through custo- mers their effect will be equal to zero. So I want the products to be successfully selling and I try to design things with this potential supported by ethics. Otherwise there’s no sense.

Are there stories about these carpets?

“Waving a carpet is like waving a message”. This said a re- nowned Moroccan sociologist Fatema Mernissi in her book Caravan, from the desert to the web. Let me make a step backward. Carpets in Anatolia, but not only, have always been stories. Mainly private stories, telling us about the dreams, the scares and the wishes of those who were waving them, women for the major part. If carpets are woven stories my aim was to create a domestic dialogue between objects and inhabitants but also between the inhabitants themselves, stimulated by objects. One of the two designs represents world map’s time zones hosting some motifs from traditional southeast Anatolia tradition together with some others designed in the same style but symbolizing con- temporary scares. The anthropomorphic motifs are oriented to north and occupy the southern part of the map symbolizing the pressure of migrations from south. The more abstract motifs are at the opposite, symbolizing the resistance again migration of northern populations. The other design represents the revised map of Kilis refugee camp, again using the same system of patterned motifs. What I would love is that eventually some could sit or lay on the carpet with kids explaining them what’s going on in the world by also using those maps, just to give a little contri- bution for them to grow as better human and independent thinkers.

Anything else you want to add?

I’m currently preparing an exhibition in Florence to be held in June 2018 and titled “Migratory Objects” -to which the GETHAM Design Center will also contribute with some pieces of anonymous design from southeast Anatolia.