Erol Sağmanlı

Erol Sağmanlı

Urart is Turkey’s rst jewelry and design brand. It is also the nation’s rst company to have created products for, among others, the renowned Royal Academy of Arts in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. What is the secret to being a “living legend”?

The designs of Urart interpret our cultural richness through unique and modern lines, and have resonated with audiences who appreciate authenticity, aesthetics and culture. Over the years, we’ve taken measures to improve ourselves while developing this contemporary and innovative range that preserves our particular characteristics. Our aim is not to produce jewelry taken out only on special occasions, but to create timeless pieces that are always ready to be worn. Urart is the rst and only jewelry company that has been welcomed by the Istanbul Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. When this honor came in 1989, I felt an incredible thrill handling unique treasures that had not seen daylight for years. The fantastic aesthetics, proportions and designs of those ancient ornaments were achieved with simple hand tools, but in combination with advanced workmanship. Today, we carry through this excellence using the same concept. We create individual designs with high-quality artisanship and respect for the character of the material. Our approach has led to the birth of what has been called the “Urart style”. As you have mentioned, we are the rst Turkish brand to have designed products for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts. We’ve contributed to numerous cultural and artistic projects.

Many international design awards have been presented to us. We have exhibited the works of contemporary Turkish artists, and added our name to special corporate projects. We collaborated with notable artists in fashion, design, culture and other fields. For 44 years, Urart has carried out its mission to blend the past with today’s values.

How does Urart keep up with digital technology while creating works that express the cultural legacy of Anatolia and Asia Minor in the present day?

Preserving traditions and craft is essential to our founding philosophy, but we are aware that we need to adapt to new technologies. We are very selective when it comes to what we adopt, which gives us a big advantage. In the past, we first used to make a sketch or personalized design, then add elements to the model and color it. After that, the customer and our production team would finalize the product, putting on the finishing touches together. Now, with rendering software we can re-size the design immediately and display every aspect in detail. Furthermore, the designer can quickly produce a model using 3D printing technology for the final approval of the customer. These features provide us many advantages, for instance, when we redesigned the Golden Orange statuettes. The design, approval, production and delivery had to be completed in around one month. We were able to fulfill this deadline thanks to new techonlogical advances.

As the chairman of Urart and the director of its design team, you are able to manage the design process and also contribute your own experience. What qualities does this add to Urart products?

I received my bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Even at that age I was interested in design; exceptional products have always drawn my attention. Within Urart, incorporating my experiences of different cultures, aesthetic background and observations in my designs is a passion for me as well as a way of life. I like to reflect on every item that stimulates my imagination when it comes to my artistic process. We prefer to create timeless pieces without attachment to fashion or seasonal trends. Of course, noticing changing tendencies and being able to sense the direction of market developments is part of our business. The magnificent designs produced by our highly qualified Urart artisans are sophisticated yet simple, something appreciated by young people today.

Tolga ÖZTÜRK