Architect Phil Easton, Director of Western Design Architects, visited UNICERA 2016. Few words from his Istanbul journey...



On 22nd January Turkish Ceramics and the Anatolian Exporters Union very kindly invited me to visit UNICERA in Istanbul.

OAiB staff showed me wonderful hospitality and escorted me around the Turkish Ceramics exhibition. I knew nothing about Turkish Ceramics but I soon learnt a great deal.

Ceramics have been produced in Turkey for over 8,000 years so they have a great tradition of producing the finest quality products. As part of my trip to Istanbul, I visited the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and other smaller mosques in which I saw the beautiful workmanship of the historic tiles. I learnt that the work ‘turquoise’ is derived from the French ‘turque’ and ‘quartz’. The material used to give the turquoise tiles their particular lustre.

Contemporary Turkish ceramics have since come a very long way. There are amazing products which I have never seen before.

Ceramic tiles in huge sizes up to 3 x 1m.

Flexible ceramic panels which can be bent to clad curved facades. Tiles have been created to imitate other materials such as wood, planks, boards, marbles, concrete, cement and polished stone. There are tiles that look like pebbles. The effects are so realistic you have to touch them to see they are not real. The realism is achieved by the digital printing and by texturing the finish of the tile. 3D tiles have a finish so realistic that you have to go right up to them and you are still not sure how this is achieved.

Why are these products so good? They compare in quality with anything I have seen so far elsewhere, but due to Turkey’s low production costs, they are much more affordable. They make a very practical alternative to natural stone and timber floor finishes as they are harder wearing than the real thing, need no maintenance and are perfect for underfloor heating at a price considerably less than the real thing.

In addition to all the interesting products I saw, I was treated with the greatest kindness and hospitality by the people I met. I am still glowing from their warmth.