designME! at WantedDesign, May 16-19, 2014

In conjunction with NYCxDesign, Studio M+ presents designME! - a debut exhibition of contemporary objects from Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey at the WantedDesign international fair. The show created for the first time last year under the name “Design Istanbul” and curated by a jury of design experts including Ayse Birsel, Gaye Cevikel, and Defne Koz, has successfully morphed from a collective exhibit focused on design from Turkey to design from the region. 

Under the creative direction of Dee Kayalar, designME! follows on the success of its 2013 edition and features some of the region’s most talented designers in furniture, tableware and home accessories, including Nada Debs of Lebanon, Nina Seirafi and Mir Mola Soraya of Iran, and Erdem Akan, Ilanit Ovadya, CAMEKAN and Muzz Design teams from Turkey.

Co-curated by design experts Sara Bengur and Roya Heidari, the show provides an opportunity to showcase exceptional talent, support cutting edge design trends from Middle East, and promote cross-cultural interaction. With their multi-cultural background, curators Sara and Roya have blended Eastern and Western elements, working different colors and styles into a surprising and unique balance. Shaking up some established conventions about Middle Eastern design and decorations, they have beautifully blended the audacious colors and patterns of Middle East with modern and sleek Western design aesthetics. Stay tuned for the designME! showcase which includes tables, both fun and functional; cheerful cups and coasters; a stylish rug and chair inspired by Persian forms and colors; in addition to a classical Victorian tea-set and a traditional board game, both re-imagined.

Nada Debs of Lebanese origin was brought up in Japan, and studied Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Returning to her roots in Lebanon after an absence of 40 years, Nada found modern designs for Middle Eastern furniture almost nonexistent. Using her multi-cultural background to create furniture which would appeal to a global market, she started her own design company in the UK designing and producing custom furniture. Mondo Collection introduced Nada Debs’ furniture line in 2011. 

I’m very excited to be part of this collective as I am proud to be able to showcase, along with the other exhibitors of designME, what is holding fort from the region. Coming from a culture of many many years of history, the inspirations have a lot more meaning than what is on the surface. As we evolve and get exposed to the world, the designs are merging with different cultural influences. I’m a big believer of fusing different cultural aesthetics to come up with new ways of looking at things and hence, new products.

Our culture has a very strong emotional element…and reflecting in design is what we do!
— Nada Debs

Pebble Coffee Table by Nada Debs through Mondo Collection 

Resin Coasters by Nada Debs through Mondo Collection

With an inspirational international background, Nina Seirafi has designed a successful array of gallery, museum, residential, and commercial spaces. Based in New York and a graduate of Parsons School of Design, she provides comprehensive design services including interior architecture, interior design, yacht design, furniture design, styling and art advisory. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Elle Décor, Interior Design, and Time Out New York. She has also received the prestigious ranking on Architectural Digest’s “AD 100” list of the world’s top interior designers. 

Blue Stool by Nina Seirafi

Mir Mola Soraya was born in Ramsar, Iran in 1979 and went to Tehran College of Art and University of Soureh, becoming one of Iran’s leading carpet designers. He draws his inspiration from poetry, arts, and religion, and over the years has developed an extensive portfolio as a calligraphist, designer, and researcher in fields of Woven artifacts. 

 Hichmago Kilim by  Mirmola Soraya

Hichmago Kilim by Mirmola Soraya

Muzz Design Studio is designers Erin Turkoglu and Melodi Bozkurt. Their creative union was nurtured during their studies, with a common curiosity for exploring the boundaries of human-object relationships. They take inspiration from traditional crafts, cultures and materials in their design process. Together they have created a simple yet expressive voice with Muzz. Müzz design Studio is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey. 

 Teapot Series by  Muzz Design

Teapot Series by Muzz Design

Camekan Glassworks is a brand for unique hand blown glass, sculptural objects and functional art, founded in 2003 by Istanbul-based women designers Yasemin Sayinsoy and Gamze Araz Eskinazi.  Based in Istanbul, the duo draws their inspiration from their backgrounds in mosaics, interior architecture and environmental design. 

 Love Cups by  Camekan

Love Cups by Camekan

Turkish designer Erdem Akan delivers high concept interiors and collections for his clients through e*rdemakan—a design and manufacturing brand of accessories and furniture. Akan delights in combining opposites: the natural with artificial, technological with artisan, reality with dreams, and "East" with "West".  Akan’s designs have been featured in Wallpaper, New York Times Style Magazine, Interni, Elle Décor and I.D., among others. In 2012 he has been awarded by Elle Décor as “Designer of the Year Turkey.” 

 Half circle side-table by  Erdem Akan

Half circle side-table by Erdem Akan

Born in Istanbul, Ilanit Ovadya graduated from Parsons the New School for Design in 2008 with a BFA degree in product design. Living and working in New York and Istanbul, her works range from product and furniture to graphic and web design. After some exciting collaborations with designers of various cultural backgrounds, she brings a multi disciplinary and multi-cultural experience into her work. Her sensitivity to scarcity of space in the world has led to unique designs that are multifunctional and ideal for limited spaces. 

 Istavla by  Ilanit Ovadya

Istavla by Ilanit Ovadya

About the Curators


Sara Bengur, New York-based interior and product designer, is the founder of Sara Bengur Interiors. Founded 18 years ago, the design firm has completed residential and retail interiors ranging from Manhattan, the Hamptons and Connecticut to Montana and Maine, as well as homes in the French West Indies. The company enjoys a reputation for eclectic and cosmopolitan spaces that reflect the international background of its founder. Just recently, the brand launched its first-ever product line featuring tableware, linens, and more. In 2006, Bengur was the catalyst that led to the design industry backed furnishing of Woodycrest House in the Bronx, which is home to women with HIV/AIDS. She was a key figure in the creation of the Marcello Manor, which provides homes for low-income domestic violence survivors. She is also a founding member of desigNYC- a design and social-good driven NYC nonprofit.

Roya Heidari works as a consultant for Kreëmart and the contemporary art space Gallery R’Pure.  A well networked executive in fashion, Roya has served as VP of sales and marketing for Yves Saint Laurent and VP of Merchandising for Lord and Taylor. Previously the Chair of Development Committee of The Lycée Français de New York, Roya is actively involved on the Board of Art in General and Mission Restore, and on the Acquisition Committee of Asia Society. With a stellar career delivering high profile charitable events, buying programs, business development initiatives, and marketing plans to powerhouse names in retail, fashion, art, and non profit, Roya is launching an exhibition for young Iranian artists during Asia Week New York in September, and chairing the Spring Gala for Art in General. 



For questions and comments, please contact Dee Kayalar at or 917 455 6093. 


Thank you to Our Sponsors & Supporters

Additional support provided by Republic of Turkey Ministry of Economy, Ozlem Yalim Ozkaraoglu/Ozlem Yalim Etc., Cornucopia Magazine, Mondo Collection, and J’Adore Andy Photography

Studio M+ is organizing this event at no cost to the designers and participants. Therefore, we invite all design and culture lovers to support this program with a small donation. Funds raised will cover program expenses ranging from booth rental, transportation to marketing and catering. We have a small surprise for those who give. A big thanks from all of us!


Making of the Cobalt Blue Series by Muzz Design

Melt: Combining Fashion, Design and Technology


Gallery R'pure | February 6-26, 2014

Join us on our opening night, Thursday, February 6, 6:30pm for a celebration of fashion, design, and technology with The-T-Shirt-Issue

Gallery R’Pure together with event planner Dee Kayalar hosts the opening of “MELT,” – a three-week fashion design exhibit showcasing the best of the award-winning design works of the T-Shirt-Issue – the Berlin-based interdisciplinary design collective. The fashion installation consisting of 4 digitally created pieces displays a jersey sweatshirt melting into the ground. The shirt design realized as a fluid motion in 3-D software using a digital figurine was exported into 4 patterns which were manually sewn and assembled.

With MELT, we construct and deconstruct the Ego in real life. Each polygon stands for a different facet of the persona, symbolizing the process of development, connected through personal experience. With each step, the Ego increasingly lets go of social structures. What remains is a melting pot of possibility.

Special thanks to the Turkish Tourism and Culture Office’s travel support and to the German Consulate General in NY for promotional support.