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Rifat Özbek’s Cushion Paradise in Istanbul
What: Yastik by Rifat Özbek, Shop
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
In 2005, Turkish fashion designer Rifat Özbek was looking for cushions to decorate his country home near Bodrum. Discouraged by the scratchy textiles and synthetic stuffing pervading the home décor marketplace, Özbek and his partner, Erdal Karaman, decided to design their own pillows, an endeavour that led to the launch of Yastik – Its name means ‘cushion’ in Turkish. Now, ten years later, Özbek has shops dedicated solely to cushions in Istanbul, Izmir and London, as well as retail spaces in exclusive department stores such as the ‘Bon Marché’ in Paris.
What sets Özbek’s designs apart: incredible textiles, rich and intricate patterns, and high-quality down stuffing, which includes dried lavender. Özbek’s attention to detail contributes to his unique vision and steady success. While the back of a cushion might be overlooked by others, Özbek treats the back panel as of equal importance. In fact, the designer intends for both sides of the cushion to be used, and the ‘backs’ often feature contrasting patterns or colors. “Just like a small brooch can uplift a dress, cushions are the brooches of sofas”, says Özbek.
Yastik stores, including one in Istanbul’s Nişantaşi neighbourhood, are an experience all their own, with dozens of varieties of cushions displayed against stark white walls, creating a gallery effect. At any given time, Özbek stocks more than 100 patterns, drawing inspiration from everywhere: the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, tribal contemporary paintings, and centuries-old mosaics and tiles.
Each cushion design is produced in limited runs. “You don’t want to go to someone’s home and realize you have the same cushion,” he says. “We keep adding new patterns all the time, and there are some cushions, like those made from vintage fabrics like antique velvet, that we only make a single pair of.” BvH
“Cushions are like brooches”
A handful of lavender flowers
Şakayık Sokak 13/1