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Elif Reşitoğlu | Creative Director & Isola Design Group Co-Founder


Photo: Mauro Serra

We had a conversation with Elif Reşitoğlu, who works as a product developer and creative director for physical events at Isola Design Group in Milan, about her work and Isola.

Interview: Onur Çoban


Who is Elif Reşitoğlu? Could you briefly introduce yourself?


I was born in 1991 and studied Architecture at Politecnico di Milano. In 2015, I completed my master's degree in Sustainable Environments and Architecture at the same university. After gaining diverse architectural experience in Finland, Italy, and Turkey, I founded my own agency with my creative partner. With our agency, we organized numerous events and exhibitions at Design Weeks in Milan, the Netherlands, London, and Dubai. I have also managed fashion events and organized unconventional fashion shows. I derive great pleasure from establishing a dynamic and innovative presence in the creative world.


Photo 1: Elif Reşitoğlu, ©Mauro Serra, Photo 2: Gabriele Cavallaro and Elif Reşitoğlu ©Anwyn Howarth


Firstly, I'd like to start with the Isola journey. How did your paths cross with Isola?


We paved our own path, I can say. When we first established our agency, we were contemplating how to leverage Milan's creative environment. We started by organizing independent exhibitions during Milan Design Week. Later on, we believed that positioning ourselves in an already established design district in Milan would provide us with a stronger community and visibility to reach a broader audience. There was a lack of a design district that showcased sustainability-themed projects by innovative and independent designers in existing areas. Therefore, we decided that creating our own district, particularly in Milan's emerging Isola area, would be beneficial. Thus, in 2017, we took the first steps to establish our own design district. During the pandemic, we launched the isola.design digital platform to showcase this global community and their projects. This digital network contributed to turning our agency's project, Isola Design District, into a successful initiative. This is how we founded Isola Design Group Srl.


Last year, as part of the Downtown Design fair at Dubai Design Week, you held an exhibition named Anatolia, which received very positive feedback. Could you tell us the story behind the upcoming second installment of the exhibition this year?


Through our exhibitions and events with Isola, I had the opportunity to meet designers from various parts of the world and collaborate with different design communities. During this process, I had the chance to organize several collective exhibitions. In one of these exhibitions, I met Canan Eren, the founder of Grob. I was impressed by Canan's projects and work in Turkey, and we decided to establish a collective together.


Photo 1: Elif Reşitoğlu and Grob Design Co-Founder Canan Eren ©Ivan Erofeev, Photo 2: Anatolia, Galleria Bonelli ©Anwyn Howarth, Photo 3: Anatolia, Downtown Design Fair ©Ivan Erofeev


Until the "Anatolia" exhibition, I hadn't had the opportunity to organize an exhibition covering countries along Turkey's spice route. The contemporary projects by designers from this region deeply impressed me. We participated in Dubai Design Week with a major exhibition, and the interest there was truly remarkable. This exhibition, where participants from Turkey had never before been part of a collective exhibition, underscored the importance of this event. Different collections were showcased during last Milan Design Week. In the upcoming Dubai Design Week 2024, we will participate with a global exhibition, featuring designs that bring together collections from around the world and showcase different crafts. Many Turkish designers will also be featured in this event.


You are also working at a creative agency called Blank Hub that you co-founded with Gabriele Cavallaro. Could you tell us a bit about Blank Hub?


Isola Studio came to life through the merger of our original agency, Blankhub, with Isola Design Group. We now offer services such as social media management, brand management, interior architecture, exhibition curation, talent discovery, and event organization through Isola Studio, just as we did before. These services have enabled us to collaborate with numerous other organizations.


One of the latest projects of Isola Studio will be a global collective design exhibition at the Tanween event at the Ithra Cultural Center in Saudi Arabia. We are taking on the role of creative direction and organization for the exhibition at this event. Additionally, we will be hosting workshops and collective experiences. We also follow and serve many companies in the design world that aspire to participate or embrace innovative and sustainable principles like this.


Isola Design Gallery, Lampo ©Anwyn Howarth


Could you share with us three design objects that have caught your attention recently?


It might be a bit difficult to decide when asked like this, as I find so many things captivating. Rather than specific objects, I'd like to share a design language. Lately, I've been noticing a design language that respects traditional heritage and techniques more as a response to the excessive globalization of design. Instead of diminishing into soulless projects like fast furniture trends, there's a noticeable trend towards incorporating more respect for traditional heritage and techniques. I see designers taking pride in infusing their designs with their own experiences, histories, and legacies. This approach naturally leads to differentiation and uniqueness in projects. I've been drawn to eclectic projects that embody this concept recently.


Are you excited about the future? What are your plans?


I'm very excited about the future because this year we're establishing our company in Dubai as Isola, and after Europe, I'll have the chance to closely follow the projects we run in the Middle East as Isola Studio. We're accustomed to frequent travel given our name, but this will be the first time experiencing life between two continents.


Isola Design Festival 2023 ©Studio Mast

Take Care ©Anwyn Howarth

Isola Design Festival 2023 ©Gabriele Correddu

Isola Design Festival 2023 ©Gabriele Correddu

Isola, MDW24 ©Anwyn Howarth

Elif Reşitoğlu ©Anwyn Howarth

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