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Zeynep Fadillioğlu, born in 1955 in Istanbul, Turkey, is a Turkish architect and interior designer. She designed the Istanbul Şakirin Mosque in 2009 to wide international acclaim, possibly becoming the first woman to ever design a mosque. After studying Computer Science at Sussex University and Computer Programming and System Analysis at Control Data Institute, she studied Art History and Design at Inchbald School of Design in 1978. After working as a System Analyst, she started managing and designing night clubs and restaurants in Istanbul and on the south coast in Antalya. In 1995 she founded her own office and since has done over 50 projects in London, Kuwait, Berlin, Delhi, St Tropez, but mostly in Istanbul. In 1978, she became interested in interior design, completing a course in art history and design at London's Inchbald School of Design. Attracted to the world of restaurants and clubs as a result of her husband's business, she went on to design some 20 establishments before setting up her own firm, Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu Design or ZF Design, where she has completed more than 140 projects. With a staff of 18, her company brings together architects, interior designers and artists. It is licensed in Qatar, the Netherlands and India as well as in Turkey. Examples of her restaurants, hotels and luxury homes can be seen in New Delhi, Abu Dhabi and London. Fadillioğlu's design of the Şakirin Mosque has been widely acclaimed despite the fact that it appears to be the first time a mosque has ever been designed by a woman. In addition to managing her design studio, Fadillioğlu teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University.
While the architect of the mosque was Husrev Tayla, Fadillioğlu designed the interiors, combining modern techniques with traditional Islamic art. Her contributions include a large metal sphere above the entrance, a graceful curved minbar as well as a glass chandelier that was crafted in China.
The large windows have gold designs reminiscent of pages from the Quran and the overall impression is one of light, space and elegance. The mosque was built in memory of Ibrahim and Semiha Şakir by their descendants. Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu is, in fact, their great-niece. Aware of the need to pay special attention to women, she has ensured that the womens upper gallery matches the mens area of the mosque in both size and beauty. It is separated from the rest of the mosque only by criss-crossed rails. Another female member of the design team, Nahide Büyükkaymakçı instructed a worker on how to hang dozens of blown-glass rain drops from an asymmetrical bronze and Plexiglas chandelier. The chandelier consists of globules shaped like drops of water recalling a Islamic prayer - "The glass drops are inspired by a prayer that says Allah's light should fall on you like rain", Büyükkaymakçı explains. According to Professor Ali Kose who studies the psychology of religion at the Marmara University School of Theology:
"Traditionally, the mosque is thought to be a place for men only," Kose says. But he says women played a much greater public role in mosques in the days of the Prophet Muhammad. That role, he says, deteriorated over time.
"Islamic societies, over time, have become male dominant societies," Kose says, "and this affected every part of life, and also affected the religion as well."
The role of women in Islam is an issue that's been furiously debated, especially in Turkey — an overwhelmingly Muslim country with a strict secular constitution. The governing pro-Islamic political party, headed by Prime Minister Erdoğan, was almost banned after it tried to allow women who wear Islamic head scarves to wear them while studying at the universities. In the midst of this controversy, several Muslim women who do not wear head scarves have quietly reached a new milestone — these artists are helping build a mosque and Fadillioğlu is one member of a team of interior designers and architects that oversaw the construction of the Şakirin Mosque. Tall and fashionably dressed, with long blond hair, Fadillioğlu is better known in Turkey as a figure from the Istanbul cocktail-sipping jet set. She made a career decorating restaurants, boutique hotels and homes for the very wealthy. For centuries, Istanbul was the seat of the caliphate, the capital of the Islamic world and home to hundreds of magnificent old mosques. Now this city of countless domes and minarets is about to get a unique new addition. In the mosque, Fadillioğlu is putting a contemporary spin on religious art from the Ottoman era. The iron on the mosque's enormous iron and glass facade was hand-crafted by specialists in Istanbul, Fadillioğlu says:
"The glass etching has got different layers of gilding on it, which is from verses of the Koran," she says.
"We wanted people to feel more left alone with God in this place, rather then being distracted by too much ornamentation. I think that makes it more contemporary at the same time"
Her company, ZF Design, tells its story through colors, textures, textiles and architectural features. ZF Design is mainly involved in stirring human emotions. Their design is a balance between traditional and contemporary and has a universal appeal while retaining a local feel. They are a team of 12 people comprised of architects, interior and product designers, stage designers and special effect masters. They specialize in working with numerous artists while creating their own timeless look. ZF Design expertise ranges from architecture, restoration, renovation to interior design. ZF Design has been working all over the world, but mostly in London, Kuwait, Berlin, Paris, India, St Tropez and naturally, of course, in Istanbul. Their work covers venues from restaurants, clubs and hotels to residential homes. Among the awards Fadillioğlu has received are the Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year Award given in 2002, House & Garden"s International Interior Designer of the Year for 2002, Modern Designer of the Year at the Design and Decoration Awards in London in 2005 for an apartment overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul as well as The Wifts Foundation International Visionary Award in 2011.
“...renowned for the antique Ottoman textiles that she mixes with simpler modern lines, Zeynep has a unique style distilled from a merging of eastern and western cultures. The result is a timeless seductive heaven... Zeynep lives her look to the full...” - The Mail on Sunday
“...the bedroom that Zeynep has designed for the fair has a bold interpretation of an ancient Ottoman sleeping space... Zeynep’s powerful impulse to collect, to rearrange, to bring things together has resulted in an array of furnishings and object d’art as diverse in flavor, texture, color and history as the ‘meze’ tray at an extravagant banquet.” - House & Garden
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Şakirin Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey was built by the Semiha Şakir Foundation in memory of İbrahim Şakir and Semiha Şakir and opened on the 7th of May 2009. Construction of the mosque took 4 years. It is 10,000 square meters in area. It has two minarets, each 35 meters high, and a dome of aluminum composite. The calligraphy on the interior of the dome was written by Semih İrteş. The large windows on three sides of the prayer hall were designed by Orhan Koçan. The minbar is acrylic and was designed by Tayfun Erdoğmuş. Decorative motifs are derived from Seljuk art. The large, asymmetrical chandelier has waterdrop-shaped glass globes made by Nahide Büyükkaymakçı, "reflecting a prayer that Allah's light should fall on worshipers like rain," and the women's section is designed especially to allow female worshipers to have a clear view of the chandelier. The fountain in the courtyard was designed by William Pye. The mosque is built over a parking garage and also includes an exhibition area. Visit the Mosque Website
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
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