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Iznik Inspiration

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When designing our embroidered framed textiles, one of our major sources of inspiration are the ceramics of Iznik. 

Now a somewhat sleepy, rural town in northwestern Turkey, Iznik was, at its peak, home to over 300 ceramics workshops which supplied the inexhaustible demand of the Ottoman Sultanate.  

After the fall of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) in 1453 and the subsequent establishment of the Ottoman seat of power, the Ottoman Sultans began a huge building programme. This reached its peak under the rule of Süleyman the Magnificent who commissioned court Architect Mimar Sinan to build over 350 structures across the vast and expanding empire. To decorate these new buildings, hundreds of thousands of tiles were commissioned from the kilns of Iznik. 

Two different but distinctly Ottoman styles developed. The first, Saz, combines a palmette motif with curving, feathered leaves. The second and later style, commonly referred to as quatre fleur, has a playful, naturalistic informality, featuring carnations, hyacinths, plum blossoms and tulips. Whilst Iznik is most famous for blue and white ceramics, the later development of polychrome pigments made for more diverse styles. Many large dishes and jugs were made with looser designs, including birds, trees and Ottoman motifs. 

Many of Sinan’s great mosques and buildings and their stunning tiled interiors survive today, as do many other examples of Iznik ceramics in many of the world’s leading museums, including our neighbour, the Victoria and Albert museum. 

Using historic Iznik pieces as inspiration, our design team re-interpret key motifs and designs

and translate them into embroidery within a contemporary composition and palette.

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