On the latest of Seventyfour’s studio visits, we took a tour of the lovely and cheerful studio of atorie bu, founded by Buket Kınalıkaya in 2016. Buket established her own studio upon return to Istanbul from the United States, where she undertook various teaching positions following completion of an MFA in ceramics at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. While the family business initially led her to begin her studies in fashion design, after trying out various courses and following the guidance of her teachers, she found herself transitioning soon after to ceramics.
On a sunny Istanbul morning, we spent an enjoyable couple of hours exploring the studio, getting our hands messy in some clay, and hearing about Buket’s practice, her own explorations, and her commissions and works with various clients. We also had a chance to preview some of the truly unique works that are currently on display at the ‘74Escape STORE & GALLERY at Maçakızı Hotel in Bodrum!
How did you get started in fashion, and what led you to ceramics?
I was the head designer of our family fashion house. That was a joke repeated at home since before I can remember. So I attended a fashion school and found making clothing too slow a process. I was in Paris studying nature mortes and portraits, and how painters put together a surface with shades of colors. I found painting to be a quicker medium, I was mixing colors and making textured surfaces. Clay was something I had not experimented with before. I was engaged in building vessels, feeding my curiosity in a challenging way.
Can you describe the process of settling back in Istanbul, and how you have found the production environment in Turkey?
I’m finding many ceramics emergencies! My intentions for atorie bu were never to run a factory production line. I’m not interested in producing thousands of items at a time. I prefer to have my hands involved directly in the production, to work with a few people, to make something meaningful. atorie bu welcomes small production runs, private commissions, prototyping work and the like. My technical experiments under the atorie bu imprint are the core product.
You spent many years formally working in education, and now have shifted completely to producing. Are there things you miss about it, how has the transition been?
I find myself teaching while working with a new apprentice or employee. It’s most different in that we are working to create my vision or a client’s vision.
In university and workshop settings, I teach fundamental techniques and principles, or focus on one very specific concept. It is up to the students to create what they wish. Working with students from very diverse backgrounds, ages and majors is an inspiring experience, but what I miss most are the stubborn students who make things in ways I would never think of.
Can you tell us a little about the concept and practice of atorie bu?
Atorie bu is my outlet for functional and decorative stoneware / porcelain vessels, using clay worked in different stages, glazed with formulations of locally sourced minerals. It’s what I write on the pots. It’s the identity with which I’m building a library of surfaces and textures with clay and glaze via self-driven projects and commissions.
What are you inspired by?
Sometimes when I’m recycling clay I notice a property that I have overlooked before. I’ll play for a while with that new thing. I may change course or not. I’ll make some iterations, and then some more.
You can’t really make mistakes with ceramics. When you make a mistake you make something new, maybe more interesting than what was intended. At the least it is a chance to learn.
Weathered surfaces, saturated colors of plastic, rocks, and flowers inspire me. I find myself thinking about little things around the studio like placement of objects and the shadows they cast.
You work with a balance of techniques and practices, sculpting completely by hand, with the wheel, with different glazes etc. What do you enjoy the most? And what are you looking forward to exploring
I’m coil building again. Rather than working the coils into a form, hiding them; I’m allowing them to create their own shape, using the movement of each layer, guiding. The idea is to show the method.
When it comes to making, a particular technique, machine or principle needs to be sensible to include into a series of iterations. I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite, I’m open to learning new skills to incorporate into the production process. It takes time to adapt to new tools, to see where they fit into the process and then to use them in a unique way.
What are your goals for the future with atorie bu?
I am cataloging my glaze experiments and hope to share them on the website by the end of the year. It’s something I’ve been continuously working on since starting atorie bu, but have yet to share.
I’m open to collaborative projects with architects, interior designers, art consultant agencies, brands and artists.