Fulden Topaloglu

Good in Furniture Design.

About Fulden Topaloglu

Fulden Topaloglu is an engineer turned designer who has worked as a designer and design manager for renowned brands in the Turkish market, carrying out projects for companies from different industrial sectors, like furniture, accessories, home textiles, packaging, jewelry, food and houseware. In 2018, she established her design studio, named Studio Kali, where she channels her passion and experience towards providing design services, as well as building a meaningful and inspirational brand for living spaces with Studio Kali’s product collection. Fulden’s work crosses a broad spectrum of design disciplines and mediums, merging ideas and techniques from craft, art and culture to reimagine and shape inspiring products, objects and experiences. In Studio Kali’s product collection, she specifically focuses on products that are at the intersection of craft production and modern design. Through this deliberate choice, Studio Kali aims to support craftsmanship, cultural heritage and local industry, while using design as a bridge between the traditions of the past and the modern aesthetics of the present.

  • Winner of Furniture Design Award.
  • Specialized in Furniture Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Furniture
Sama Furniture Series

Sama Furniture Series

Furniture Design


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Interview with Fulden Topaloglu

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Actually I have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Yet I always had a great interest in art and design and practiced photography, sculpture and drawing especially during my undergraduate years. At one point I realized that my heart beats so much stronger for the opportunity to combine my artistic capabilities with my engineering education and that’s when I decided to study industrial design, as it suggested a really nice blend of both worlds.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Studio Kali is an award-winning multidisciplinary design studio based in Istanbul. We provide design services ranging from product design, furniture design, packaging design, to design strategy and branding. We see ourselves as a channel that turns creativity and design skills into skillfully crafted products, projects and experiences that deliver meaningful value. We simply love creating! Beginning with 2019 we also launched our first product collection, with the desire to build a meaningful and inspirational brand for living spaces.
What is "design" for you?
Design is this wonderful tool we have in order to shape and curate our life experiences, from the tiniest apparatus to the larger systems. If we use this tool with care, focusing on empowerment, well-being and inspiration, it turns into a powerful tool to enhance our humanity.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
One of the things that I love about my profession is its diversity, diversity in projects, diversity in needs, diversity in approaches… That’s why I love designing different works: furniture, textiles, home accessories, packaging… I believe this variety and the mere act of moving between different projects and mediums keeps a designer more fresh, creative and motivated.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I can’t pick a favourite but looking back I can say that with some of my designs I have a different and stronger relationship. Sama stool from my Sama furniture collection, my Ege kilim series and Mardin necklace are 3 of those. Sama and Mardin take their inspiration from cultural heritage yet I think they both manage to translate this cultural context into a totally new and contemporary expression. Whereas Ege kilim series is a tribute to my love for the Aegean & Mediterranean sea and geography; where I took my admiration for the visual and emotional expressiveness of the sea surface and turned it into a kilim rug series that aim to bring the aura of the sea into the interior space.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
The first thing that I designed for a company was a vacuum insulated thermal jug, but the company decided not to make the investment in this new accessory range, so the design did not reach production. The first thing that I designed for a company that got produced was a chocolate bar.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
My favorite material is wood. I have a different emotional bond with it. Yet I love all natural materials; metal, ceramics, natural textiles…
When do you feel the most creative?
I feel the most creative when I get inspired by something outside myself. This can happen when I experience a beautiful moment in nature, or when I immerse myself in experiencing art, looking at an art form, watching a documentary… It’s as if this creation whether natural or man-made speaks to my soul, getting in touch with me and awakening a source of creative energy inside me.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Designing is a search for balance and the way you balance different aspects changes from project to project, based on objectives, function, the brand, etc. Yet I can say that the most common aspect that I focus in all my designs is achieving a functional simplicity that is timeless and that forms an emotional bond with the user.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Excitement, curiosity, fear, joy, confusion, more joy… not necessarily in this order:)
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
Definitely joy, gratefulness and a huge excitement and hunger to create new things! It’s like this wonderful re-charge you get after spending hours, days, months of effort in every single detail, curve, material, color. And voila there it is in flesh and bone!
What makes a design successful?
I see all man-made things as acts of communication. That’s why I think a design is successful if it can make a strong connection with the people it is intended for, if it can make an honest, functional and authentic communication, if it can arouse the feelings of well-being, joy and inspiration.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Does the design have integrity? By this I mean are the choices regarding materials, forms, colors, details in harmony and contribute to the overall integrity of the design.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
We spend a huge percentage of our time in the manmade world. We produce it and in turn we are reproduced by it. Our relationship with objects, spaces, systems shape and define our capabilities, our thought structures, our feelings. And design is the tool we have at hand to shape, re-define and enhance the totality of the manmade world. As designers, who have a stronger say in shaping this man-made world, we should be extra responsible about our design decisions, prioritizing well-being, empowerment and the wellness of the society and environment.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
As we are faced with increasing global challenges before us, I see a growing awareness regarding design’s role regarding tackling social and environmental problems. I believe this will make the design field become much more conscious and active regarding our footprint in nature and the ethical dimensions of design. Future designers will definitely have to be more conscious and ethical decision makers, taking more responsibility for how our design decisions are shaping the future we want to create. We will also see design’s and design thinking’s influence moving more and more beyond the borders of traditional design disciplines to strategy, systems thinking, policy making, urban planning, together with a larger blurring of boundaries between different design disciplines like product design, graphic design, interface design, etc.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
My last exhibition took place on November 21-24, 2019 in Istanbul in the context of a 4 day event organized by Maison Française Turkey and Tomtom Designhood. I was going to hold my next exhibition during Milan Design Week 2020 but since it got cancelled, I hope to hold my next exhibition in Milan Design Week 2021.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Nature and art! I love experiencing nature and all forms of art, particularly photography, sculpture and painting. For me experiencing nature and art is the entryway to inspiration.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I would describe my approach to design as a search for functional simplicity, timelessness, emotional expressiveness and meaning. I focus on designing objects, products and experiences that stand out with their simplicity and refined design language, where responsible use of materials and longevity are also among my major aims. In addition to these main characteristics, specifically in Studio Kali’s own product collection, I focus on uniting my design approach with craft sensibilities and cultural cues. I search for ways of translating precious craft practices and cultural contexts into products that carry their spirit and sensibilities in terms of techniques and artisanship, yet that establish their own contemporary expression.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live and work in Istanbul. The cultural and geographical heritage of Turkey has a huge place in my designs. Besides their subconscious effects, I consciously choose to base the starting point of many of my design work on these cultural and geographical inspirations. Especially in Studio Kali’s (my design studio) product collection my country's cultural heritage, craft traditions and natural geography are my key sources of inspiration. For example, Ege and Yakamoz collections are a homage to the Aegean & Mediterranean sea and geography. Whereas Sama furniture series take its inspiration from the traditional clothing worn in Sufi ceremonies. Mardin necklace references two precious craft traditions that have been practiced in this geography since the centuries: telkari and stone carving. I am grateful for living in a country that is so dense and rich with cultural heritage, craft traditions and practices. This is definitely a huge and priceless advantage. Yet the con of designing in Turkey is that although we are a huge economy, we do not have a strong one. This overarching reality definitely affects the design scene, its productivity as well as the demand for design in a negative way.
How do you work with companies?
When I collaborate with companies, I focus on the needs of the project and the company characteristics and design the workflow and objectives according to these needs.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
I think transparent and effective communication and commitment to the success of the company-designer relationship is at least as important as the choice of the designer. Good design outcomes come from a good company-designer relationship. I would definitely suggest having clear objectives regarding the design project and communicating these objectives to the designer from the beginning.

Extended Interview with Fulden Topaloglu

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
Actually I have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Yet I always had a great interest in art and design and practiced photography, sculpture and drawing especially during my undergraduate years. At one point I realized that my heart beats so much stronger for the opportunity to combine my artistic capabilities with my engineering education and that’s when I decided to study industrial design, as it suggested a really nice blend of both worlds.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
Studio Kali is an award-winning multidisciplinary design studio based in Istanbul. We provide design services ranging from product design, furniture design, packaging design, to design strategy and branding. We see ourselves as a channel that turns creativity and design skills into skillfully crafted products, projects and experiences that deliver meaningful value. We simply love creating! Beginning with 2019 we also launched our first product collection, with the desire to build a meaningful and inspirational brand for living spaces.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
Design is this wonderful tool we have in order to shape and curate our life experiences, from the tiniest apparatus to the larger systems. If we use this tool with care, focusing on empowerment, well-being and inspiration, it turns into a powerful tool to enhance our humanity.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
One of the things that I love about my profession is its diversity, diversity in projects, diversity in needs, diversity in approaches… That’s why I love designing different works: furniture, textiles, home accessories, packaging… I believe this variety and the mere act of moving between different projects and mediums keeps a designer more fresh, creative and motivated.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
I can’t pick a favourite but looking back I can say that with some of my designs I have a different and stronger relationship. Sama stool from my Sama furniture collection, my Ege kilim series and Mardin necklace are 3 of those. Sama and Mardin take their inspiration from cultural heritage yet I think they both manage to translate this cultural context into a totally new and contemporary expression. Whereas Ege kilim series is a tribute to my love for the Aegean & Mediterranean sea and geography; where I took my admiration for the visual and emotional expressiveness of the sea surface and turned it into a kilim rug series that aim to bring the aura of the sea into the interior space.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
The first thing that I designed for a company was a vacuum insulated thermal jug, but the company decided not to make the investment in this new accessory range, so the design did not reach production. The first thing that I designed for a company that got produced was a chocolate bar.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
My favorite material is wood. I have a different emotional bond with it. Yet I love all natural materials; metal, ceramics, natural textiles…
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
I feel the most creative when I get inspired by something outside myself. This can happen when I experience a beautiful moment in nature, or when I immerse myself in experiencing art, looking at an art form, watching a documentary… It’s as if this creation whether natural or man-made speaks to my soul, getting in touch with me and awakening a source of creative energy inside me.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
Designing is a search for balance and the way you balance different aspects changes from project to project, based on objectives, function, the brand, etc. Yet I can say that the most common aspect that I focus in all my designs is achieving a functional simplicity that is timeless and that forms an emotional bond with the user.
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
Excitement, curiosity, fear, joy, confusion, more joy… not necessarily in this order:)
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
Definitely joy, gratefulness and a huge excitement and hunger to create new things! It’s like this wonderful re-charge you get after spending hours, days, months of effort in every single detail, curve, material, color. And voila there it is in flesh and bone!
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
I see all man-made things as acts of communication. That’s why I think a design is successful if it can make a strong connection with the people it is intended for, if it can make an honest, functional and authentic communication, if it can arouse the feelings of well-being, joy and inspiration.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
Does the design have integrity? By this I mean are the choices regarding materials, forms, colors, details in harmony and contribute to the overall integrity of the design.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
We spend a huge percentage of our time in the manmade world. We produce it and in turn we are reproduced by it. Our relationship with objects, spaces, systems shape and define our capabilities, our thought structures, our feelings. And design is the tool we have at hand to shape, re-define and enhance the totality of the manmade world. As designers, who have a stronger say in shaping this man-made world, we should be extra responsible about our design decisions, prioritizing well-being, empowerment and the wellness of the society and environment.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
As we are faced with increasing global challenges before us, I see a growing awareness regarding design’s role regarding tackling social and environmental problems. I believe this will make the design field become much more conscious and active regarding our footprint in nature and the ethical dimensions of design. Future designers will definitely have to be more conscious and ethical decision makers, taking more responsibility for how our design decisions are shaping the future we want to create. We will also see design’s and design thinking’s influence moving more and more beyond the borders of traditional design disciplines to strategy, systems thinking, policy making, urban planning, together with a larger blurring of boundaries between different design disciplines like product design, graphic design, interface design, etc.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
My last exhibition took place on November 21-24, 2019 in Istanbul in the context of a 4 day event organized by Maison Française Turkey and Tomtom Designhood. I was going to hold my next exhibition during Milan Design Week 2020 but since it got cancelled, I hope to hold my next exhibition in Milan Design Week 2021.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Nature and art! I love experiencing nature and all forms of art, particularly photography, sculpture and painting. For me experiencing nature and art is the entryway to inspiration.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
I would describe my approach to design as a search for functional simplicity, timelessness, emotional expressiveness and meaning. I focus on designing objects, products and experiences that stand out with their simplicity and refined design language, where responsible use of materials and longevity are also among my major aims. In addition to these main characteristics, specifically in Studio Kali’s own product collection, I focus on uniting my design approach with craft sensibilities and cultural cues. I search for ways of translating precious craft practices and cultural contexts into products that carry their spirit and sensibilities in terms of techniques and artisanship, yet that establish their own contemporary expression.
What helped you to become a great designer?
I live and work in Istanbul. The cultural and geographical heritage of Turkey has a huge place in my designs. Besides their subconscious effects, I consciously choose to base the starting point of many of my design work on these cultural and geographical inspirations. Especially in Studio Kali’s (my design studio) product collection my country's cultural heritage, craft traditions and natural geography are my key sources of inspiration. For example, Ege and Yakamoz collections are a homage to the Aegean & Mediterranean sea and geography. Whereas Sama furniture series take its inspiration from the traditional clothing worn in Sufi ceremonies. Mardin necklace references two precious craft traditions that have been practiced in this geography since the centuries: telkari and stone carving. I am grateful for living in a country that is so dense and rich with cultural heritage, craft traditions and practices. This is definitely a huge and priceless advantage. Yet the con of designing in Turkey is that although we are a huge economy, we do not have a strong one. This overarching reality definitely affects the design scene, its productivity as well as the demand for design in a negative way.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
When I collaborate with companies, I focus on the needs of the project and the company characteristics and design the workflow and objectives according to these needs.
How do you think designers should present their work?
I think transparent and effective communication and commitment to the success of the company-designer relationship is at least as important as the choice of the designer. Good design outcomes come from a good company-designer relationship. I would definitely suggest having clear objectives regarding the design project and communicating these objectives to the designer from the beginning.

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