Open call for designers

Anatolia, the vast region spanning most of mainland Turkey, was once home to ancient civilizations; today, its craftspeople carry expert knowledge, which is passed from generation to generation. 

These ancient skill sets are being increasingly forgotten, replaced by cheap factory-made products. We believe that products, created with care and skill, are more sustainable, pay fairer wages to those who create them, and carry implicit cultural value.

We’re inviting designers from all across the European Union to get to know five very different Anatolian crafts and reinterpret one (or more) of them for a contemporary audience. 10 designers, authors of the selected design proposals, will be invited to Turkey to join the craftspeople in their workshops and create product prototypes, which will then be exhibited in Istanbul and promoted throughout the EU and Turkey.

Anatolian crafts

Get to know more about the Anatolian crafts and the craftspeople:

  • Felt making
  • Quilting
  • Inlaying
  • Stone carving
  • Ceramics (Iznik style)

Who’s issuing the call?

The project was initiated by Turkey Design Council, an NGO that aims to contribute to Turkey's social and economic development with design-oriented approaches. It promotes young designers, engages with the wider public to share awareness of the importance of design, underlines the values of designing for all individuals, and strives to build communities.

For the project “From Ancient Anatolian Crafts to Contemporary Designs”, financed by the Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and Dialogue between Türkiye and the EU-II (CCH-II), it collaborates with partners Brumen Foundation, Slovenia, and Traditional Arts Association, Turkey.

What’s the timeline?

  • Application deadline: 31 January 2022 at 23:59 (CET)
  • Open call result publication: February 2022
  • Co-production process in Turkey (five days total): between 14 February and 29 April 2022
  • Exhibition in Istanbul: May 2022

What’s in it for the winners?

  • 5-day trip to Turkey, all expenses covered (travel, accommodation, living expenses)
  • Monetary compensation: 750 EUR for students, 1500 EUR for professionals
  • Production of two design prototypes: one for the exhibition in Istanbul, one for the designer
  • Exhibition of your work in Istanbul
  • Professional photographs of your finished prototype
  • Wide promotion of the selected designers

Who can take part?

  • Fields of work

All various kinds of creatives, students and professionals, teams and individuals, are welcome to apply! This includes industrial designers, graphic designers, fashion designers, textile designers, product designers, furniture designers, interior designers, jewelry designers among others, as well as artists, makers, and other creatives.

  • Fields of interest

We’re looking for creatives that are passionate about handcrafted products, who feel they have a story to tell with their design proposals, and would like to work closely with experienced master craftspeople in transforming their designs into tangible prototypes.

  • General terms

Participants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application, have residency in the EU or an EU member state (excluding Turkey), and must be able to travel for five days in the period between 14 February and 29 April 2022 (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

Which categories can I apply to?

Participants can choose between two categories.

1. Professional category

Applicants entering their design proposals to the professional category must provide their:

  • CV
  • Design proposal
  • Portfolio (three of their previous works no older than 2016)

Monetary compensation: 1500 EUR

2. Student category

Applicants entering their design proposals to the student category must provide their:

  • CV
  • Design proposal
  • Valid student ID

Monetary compensation: 750 EUR

One winner from each category will be selected for each craft: one from the student category, one from the professional category.

It is also possible to apply as a team. Each team must select its representative, who will complete the application, will speak for the team, and will travel to Turkey in the event of their design proposal being selected.

For a team to apply to the student category, every team member must provide valid student ID (uploaded as a single PDF).

If students wish to compete in the professional category, they can choose to apply their design proposals as professionals.

What kind of design proposals can be entered?

What we’re looking for are contemporary reinterpretations: using the traditional technique and materials, we invite you to think up design proposals that might find a way into the everyday life of people around the world. The concepts should differ significantly from the designs already produced and demonstrated in the short films and should show innovation in their usability and aesthetics.

Upon reading the descriptions of the five Anatolian crafts and viewing the documentaries, you’re invited to pick one (or more) crafts that you connect with most – no previous experience with the crafts in question is required.

The design proposal’s dimensions and complexity should take into account that the production process will only take four days. You can find more detailed instructions for the size and material composition guidelines in the Crafts section.

  • An individual design proposal can only be entered in one category (professional or student). Design proposals entered into both categories (student and professional) will be disqualified.
  • Applicants may enter an unlimited number of individual proposals: either for the same craft or a number of different crafts (even all five). However, each design proposal must be submitted separately.

Guidelines for the presentation of your design proposal

Design proposal presentations must include:

  • One full-page image that presents the design in a clear fashion

This image should include perspectives, orthographic views for 3D objects, specifying materials and dimensions. It will be used in the selection process, and, if selected, in public communication.

  • Up to 2 additional images further presenting the design

Optional, but suggested

  • A short description of the design proposal and the applicant’s motivation to take part in the project

The following questions can serve as a starting point:

  • Why is your idea particularly relevant or innovative?
  • What makes your idea stand out?
  • Why do you want to work with craftspeople?

Please compose all the materials above in a single pdf (images and text), the file should not exceed 5 MB.

  • To ensure the fairness of judgement, the design proposal and portfolio must not be personally identifiable (name, surname).
  • After submission, changes cannot be made to the design proposals or other uploaded files.
  • Submissions should be provided in the prescribed format. Incomplete, inconsistent and/or unoriginal applications will be rejected by the organizer.
  • Submissions must be your own creation and must not infringe on existing intellectual property.
  • Prior to submission, general terms and conditions agreement should be read carefully and accepted.

Selection Process

The jury members will evaluate all design proposals and select 10 winning submissions, one professional and one student entry per each craft. The selection process will be anonymous.

Jury members

  • Gülname Turan -Board Member, Turkey Design Council
  • Ajda Schmidt -Board Member, Brumen Foundation, Slovenia
  • Aslıhan E. Birkandan -General Secretary, Traditional Arts Association, Turkey
  • Hüsamettin Koçan -Artist, BAKSI Museum Founder, Turkey
  • Seza Sinanlar Uslu -Academician, YTU Department of Art, Turkey
  • Maeve Murphy -BEDA Representative, Board Member of the Design & Crafts Council Ireland
  • Fokke Moerel -Architect, MVRDV Partner, Netherlands

When and how will the production take place?

Each of the 10 winning designers (or one representative of the winning design team) will travel to Turkey for five days between 14 February and 29 April 2022.

They’ll visit the workshop and work in collaboration with the craftsperson (with the help of an interpreter and our project representative) to create two prototypes of their design. One of the prototypes is theirs to keep, the other will be used to produce promotional photographs and be exhibited in Istanbul in May 2022, and is afterwards part of the collection at Turkey Design Council.

All the costs related to the production of the prototype, travel, accommodation, and living expenses are covered by the project. In addition, designers will receive monetary compensation (750 EUR for students, 1500 EUR for professionals).

Is there anything else I should know?

Keeping both designers’ and craftspeople’ best interest at heart, both parties will be required to sign a contract protecting their intellectual rights.

The design proposals that will not be selected will remain confidential and only seen by the jury and the necessary representatives of the project team. They will not be kept or disclosed at any point after the selection of the 10 winning proposals.

Do you still have questions?

Reach out to us at and we’ll be happy to help.

For a list of frequently asked questions, click here.