Akin & Suri on the road to success

burcu and poyush photoAs I sit down over coffee, I realise what a harmonious partnership Burcu Akin and Piyush Suri form. Burcu is the calm and poised face of the business while Piyush is the warm and enthusiastic creative in the duo. But how do a woman from Istanbul and a man from Delhi work to combine their taste and vision in such a seamless perfection?

Vivre cote sud 1When Piyush first met Burcu it was in the context of the trade show Top Drawer. Burcu, originally from Istanbul, had first come to London in 1996 to study for an MA in Business. She then stayed on and opened a retail shop selling towels, the specialty of Buldan in Turkey, soaps and other hamam accessories from her home land. Piyush, on the other hand, had come from Delhi in 2001 to enrol at Central St Martins for an MA in Design for Textiles Futures, Fashion and Interior Textiles. He didn’t depart from the rule that Central St Martins is fertile ground for innovative and entrepreneurial minds. Thus, upon his graduation, he started working freelance for different designers and then started creating scarves for The National Gallery and The British Museum.

cushionsWhen Piyush and Burcu met for the first time at Top Drawer in 2006, their stands were on opposite sides. Over the next three years, they got to know each other and discovered that they had more than one similarity: it was not just the Persian connection between Turkey and India, it was an ensemble that ran the gamut from family values to culinary traditions and to the importance of colour and smell in everyday life that echoed the way they had been brought up and the way they envisioned their world. Soon enough, Burcu invited Piyush to have a corner in her boutique and in 2008, Burcu and Piyush launched a concept store, Handmade Interiors, in trendy Shoreditch where they presented a selection of handmade products from Turkey, Piyush’s own creations and an assortment of handpicked, original pieces from very small British designers.

Vivre cote Sud 2In the Indian culture and particularly in the Turkish culture, the idea of symmetry and geometry through repetition is a very important concept in design. Burcu and Piyush took that very prominent concept and enhanced it to make it more creative and modern. They also knew that colour would play a very important part in their designs but instead of limiting themselves to the typical vibrant Indian palette (say a fuchsia and an orange), they decided instead to resort to more subdued colours such as cool blues with chocolate brown for instance. The combination of their colours and design were an instant hit. In terms of technique, they switched from wood block printing to silkscreening once their company grew bigger. All their cotton and linens are ethically produced with natural products.The fabrics are hand-washed and air-dried, hand printed using traditional silk screens in Delhi where all the savoir-faire is easily at hand.

CarocimBetween 2008 and 2010, Piyush and Burcu focused mostly on retail and on developing their own designs. Then, in 2010, thanks to the British European Design Group (bedg), they went to Maison & Objet for the first time around. This was a decisive step in their expansion. Maison & Objet is a show based in Paris that is a must in terms of home decoration. There, they made lots of important connections with boutique owners and agents from all over the world and their reputation as an understated luxury boutique with “contemporary natural living” was soon established. In 2012, they moved their boutique to Little Venice and decided to concentrate their efforts and creativity more onto the development of their own designs. They are, now, well on their way to become a full fledged design based company. Akin & Suri is represented in many parts of the world but the French absolutely adore their creations hence the presentation of their products on their website in French as well as in English. France constitutes 45% of their revenues. From their participation in Vivre Côté Sud, the Aix-en-Provence-based fair that has earned its stripes in the world of crafts and home decoration, ensued a joyful collaboration with Atelier Buffile. The creative couple of Monique and Vincent Buffile, reproduced some of their designs on their famous ceramic plates. Carocim, a renowned tile firm, reproduced their designs on their tiles.

Chelsea old town hallWhen Piyush joined forces creatively with Burcu, he was far from being a novice in the world of artisans and craftsmanship. Indeed, in parallel to his scarves, he launched, in 2007, Handmade in Britain, the Contemporary Crafts and Design Fair. It takes place in the heart of London in Chelsea and will be celebrating its 9th edition this coming winter. This platform was spurred by Piyush’s desire to find contemporary and aesthetically pleasing hand made products originated in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, under the label, he regrouped artisans and designer-makers with an aim to support and promote their works first nationally then internationally. A membership scheme, also offers them the possibility to learn how to advertise themselves savvily and to run a business while maintaining a high level of creativity. The platform also favours collaboration with other arts organisations such as Arts Thread and since 2013, it invites new graduates to showcase their work.

Handmade at KewThis past weekend, Piyush is very proud to have taken, for the first time, a delegation of 13 British designer-makers to Vivre Côté Sud. In the autumn, he will launch Handmade at Kew, the first edition of a new selling event for Contemporary Crafts in the Royal Botanic Garden. Designers from all over the world can apply. Piyush has also been appointed consultant director and curator of CRAFT, a new trade show for contemporary craft and design that firmly asserts the revival and rejuvenation of the artisan and craftsmen scene in the UK after the doldrums of the early 80s and Thatcherism. He is very happy to expand the scope of Handmade in Britain and to celebrate other designer-makers and bring them to public attention. However, it is with Akin & Suri, that his formidable creativity is at its best.

Atelier Bufile

Akin & Suri designs and manufactures hand screenprinted cotton and linen fabrics, wallpapers, soft furnishings and interior accessories. Their first design was The Iznik in reference to the Turkish town where the intricate floral and geometric patterns originated. Their best selling design is Nila. They also work on bespoke design projects. As Burcu points out, the key aspect of their success is to not be distracted by other projects and to keep a clear mind about what they want to achieve. At first, they focused on increasing their market share and on expanding internationally then they started collaborating with renowned artists who reproduced their designs on surfaces that are not offered by Akin & Suri. Hence, the Carocim connection and the ceramic collaboration. Akin & Suri is now delighted to announce their new collaboration with flatware and dinnerware French company, Sabre. This definitely announces the slow and careful change that they are making from a production based company to a full fledged design company thriving through its national and international collaborations.

SetWidth600-poszewka-dekoracyjna-elmas-take-a-napPhoto courtesy of Nap.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *