The art of Turkish tiles and ceramics occupies a place of prominence in the history of Islamic art. Its roots can be traced at least as far back as the Uighurs (a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia) of the 8th and 9th centuries. Iznik became a major center with the creation of a local faïence pottery-making industry during the Ottoman period in the 17th century.Iznik tiles were used to decorate many of the mosques in Istanbul designed by Mimar Sinan. However, this industry also moved to Istanbul, and İznik became a mainly agricultural minor town in the area when a major railway bypassed it in the 19th century.
In 1993 economics professor Dr. Işıl Akbaygil visited some of Istanbul’s historic buildings and noticed that some of the tiles were as bright and clear as new, while others were dull and deteriorating. Research soon confirmed that these tiles were indeed special, though they hadn’t been made since the early 1700s and there was no historical record or documentation of how they were made.
Dedicated to reviving this lost art, she founded the Iznik Training and Education Foundation, based in Istanbul, Turkey, with the goal of producing Iznik Ceramic Tiles staying true to ancient traditional methods used over 400 years ago. Today the Iznik Foundation creates tiles for repair and restoration of historical buildings, public works (including large murals in Istanbul’s subway stations) and for private use.
This video features Istanbul-based architectural historian Gökhan Karakuş, who takes us through the history and modern-day labor-intensive process of making these beautiful tiles.
The patterns used on Iznik Tiles can be seen in countless external and internal ancient constructions made during the Ottoman Empire. These designs have made their way throughout time and are still used on countless substances today. The Iznik Foundation has collaborated with such artists and fashion giants such as Zaha Hadid, Ettore Sottsass and Hermes. RVS by V. in Instanbul worked with 7 of the most celebrated designs in Ceramic Tiles.
RVS by V. has incorporated these designs in to eyewear for the first time ever with 7 limited edition frames available as both sunglasses and optical frames. Limited to 140 pieces worldwide and made in Matt finished acetate (staying true to RVS by V. finishing) each frame has been made in hand with the goal of once again keeping alive the ancient tradition of Iznik Tiles.
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