PARDON OUR FRENCH
Derin & Beliz Sarıyer
A discussion about life, relationships, music and design
How did you two meet? How did it all start?
While I was a senior at Bilkent, Beliz was a freshman. I could do no more than just watch her from far but she was always in my mind. Later, I saw her Milan Design Week in 2006. She was working in London and had come to see the fair. It was the last day. Somehow we were together, we visited an exhibition and had lunch the day after we met and I dropped her off to the airport. We continued our relationship in long distance form for a while. Later, we started living together in İstanbul and the idea of getting married just appeared as we shared our thoughts on having a baby together. Both of us had it in mind even if we did not speak on it. We got married in 2010.
How does it feel to live as two creatives under one roof?
We graduated from the same school and even though we have similar academic backgrounds, our everyday jobs are pretty different. I am the director of the Derin Design brand while Beliz is freelancing while focusing on retail designs. We get along really well in the house, Beliz is more oriented with details. One of the reasons I am deeply affected by Beliz is that I believe she has excellent gusto. I admire her style, the way she talks, her simplicity and attitude.
How does a day start and end in your home?
Aziz, our son, wakes us up early by coming in our room. I read him story books and I make sure to arrive earlier than he falls asleep. Later, we eat dinner with Beliz and I sometimes go to the gym, read a book or watch a movie.
If we were to come over for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
I am not experienced in cooking so maybe I might be able cook an omelet. I’ve never had much enthusiasm for being active in gastronomy.
Do you ever discuss each other’s wardrobes and style?
No, I am pretty clear about what I wear. I have prejudices about what would look good on me and I am not really experimental with clothes. That is why Beliz does not interfere and I don’t to hers – since she has sharp tastes and a great self-confidence.
They say that someone’s living room is similar to their social media presence – they will only share what they want. What story would yours tell us?
We are pretty transparent about this. We spend most of our time in our living room and we have nothing to hide. We have a pretty peaceful life. I do follow social media but share only a little – and so does Beliz.
Which playlist is currently on replay in your house?
I follow French and Italian indie bands due to my familiarity with the two languages. I also listen to Scandinavian bands that perform in English – the Raveonettes would be a good example. I have been to both of their concerts in İstanbul.
Could you please share five things you could never live without?
My son Aziz, Beliz, my job, music and my books.
Being a designer must affect every aspect of your life. How does it affect your approach towards life?
My attitude towards life and design is pretty much in line. I like to let go off anything in excess since I feel good with clear and minimal. I love to live the moment and feel like this is a precious gift. I don’t live in the past or spend all my time in the future – or if I do I like to minimize it.
You’ve been inside the design and architecture world since you were born. Would you call yourself lucky and constrained?
My father Aziz Sarıyer opened his first furniture shop named Derin in 1971 – just a year before I was born so it would be safe to say that I was always in a world where furniture is in the center. That is why I’ve reached where I am right now pretty naturally. I also participated in many internships and projects with the Italian brands we represented in our store. I learned what my job is all about through these experiences. I always intuitively knew that each person has the right to be born into freedom of choices and I know that I am not walking on a pre-designed path. I believe I was also lucky because Derin Design’s philosophy was in harmony with my character.
Do you ever use your own designs in your house? If so, which ones?
Of course, we own a lot of products from Derin Design like the Spessore table and the Yay couch. We also own some furniture designed solely for our house. Other than that we have also used different brands, which we believed would fit our house.
Stepping outside one’s comfort zone proves to be trickiest things for people. How did you decide you were ready to share your music?
There are moments when being sure that you are going to do something feels better than doing it. I always knew I would share the songs I had written. I was convinced with the idea of sharing when I realized I had lived more than I would live. I am full of myself and I feel good when I express that with music. As I handle details from songs, I approach them with as it is going to be my last job but I still carry the enthusiasm of the first job. When I approach it like this, I believe that the period I decided to share my music doesn’t really matter.
Where did your first live performance take place?
I played at Supa in Suriye Pasajı in a Sofar Sounds event. This was something I had always dreamed of doing and having realized it makes me really happy. I stepped on the stage with my guitar and started playing.
At what point did you decide to be creative professionally?
I started to share my demos from Soundcloud five years ago. Back then, I was planning to become professional in the music industry. I started searching and felt like Oğuz Kaplangı could solve my problems with the publishing stage and followed his works. I notted down his contact details and introduced myself when I met him. After a couple of months I visited his studio and we decided we could work together. Ever since that day, we have been working together. He has a modernist vision even in the conditions of today. We are close because we are both far from nostalgic details. We understand each other pretty well.
What plans do you have for the future regarding music?
I have decided on the demos of the songs I will be sharing and the order they will be shared but they are waiting for the right production. Recently, I’ve been writing new songs that could find their place within the old ones. The basis of what I write is what “the joy of nothing” makes you feel. We can see my songs as an attempt of creating a sour joy out of the assimilation of the planet’s disregard towards people.
Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that the road to success includes wearing the same outfits every day and you are usually seen in resembling black outfits. Would you agree?
I believe in the importance of cuts and I can’t wear anything in which I feel like I am lost. Once I find something that fits, I buy a couple of it and make it my uniform. Rather than dressing in a way that expresses myself I choose to get dressed in a way that doesn’t clash with what I have to say.
What or who inspires you the most when you are designing?
Well, many things... I even check out childrens books. For example illustrations of Maira Kalman wife of Tibor Kalman. Tibor Kalman's works and phrases are very good for moodboards. Aziz has a very good collection of kids books now. I dish them out time to time. Some belong to me and some are brand new. Bruno Mari is his favorite so far. He might be the inspiration for him in the future who knows?! As a product designer I like Jasper Morrison's the way of using materials and putting them together.
Which books are you carrying around these days?
I recently bought Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky from Designers Block corner at design week in Milan. I carry it with me everywhere I go.
You recently became a mother. How did that affect you and your attitude towards life?
It did effect me in terms of scheduling my day. I need to plan everything more in advance now. And I used to be very bad at it. You learn as you go... I love what I do however mothering always comes first. I keep on teaching and do projects from home. The first year has been very challenging but very rewarding. I love spending one to one time with Aziz. It is difficult to find the right balance between work related stuff, taking care of him, spending some quality time with Derin and having some me-time. It can be very exhausting but I wouldn't change a thing.
How would you define luxury?
Luxury is living the life that you have wished for... And be grateful. My luxury is my family.
Do you have a piece in your wardrobe that you end up wearing every season?
Oh yes. My Charvet white shirt. It is good in summer and winter, day and night even for a cosy day at home...
Which destination would you choose as your favorite for an alternative getaway?
I would choose south of Italy. And would love to stay at the Belmond Hotel Splendido overlooking to Portofino Coastline.
If you could own any design object in the world, which one would you go for?
That would be Jasper Morrison's Thinking Mans Chair.