On the occasion of Coastal Myths exhibition in collaboration with Studio Sahil, Open Space director, and curator Huma Kabakci interviews the founder of Studio Sahil Rezzan Hasoglu.
It’s the swish of water in a drinking glass, the curve of a decorative vase, or the moving shadows created by adding light to a room; when you stop to ask questions about the objects you encounter daily, stories and connections start to emerge. What raw materials went into the finished product? Who has touched it along the way? Studio Sahil creates objects that bring these underlying narratives to light. Their designs are more than just beautiful finished products-they are timeless testaments to materiality, process, and culture. Sahil is the Turkish word for coast or shore. Each piece is handmade from organic materials by Rezzan Hasoglu and local artisans, using materials and techniques that respect the environment. The studio looks to the natural phenomena, complex patterns, and continuous evolution of seaside landscapes to inspire and inform our practice.
Living in London but collaborating with many festivals, shops and galleries around the world, you focus on glass as a medium. Can you talk a little about your practice and how you founded Studio Sahil?
I studied industrial design at Rhode Island School of Design which allowed me to cross-register for an introduction to glass-making in my first year of university. I became fascinated with this material as it can shape and scale to most forms and functions. I worked in different companies during and after my studies to gain more experience in the USA and Turkey. Following a MA in Visual Communication and Design and Sabancı University, I moved to London to study MA in Design Products at Royal College of Art in 2015.
My dream has always been to set up my own design studio and create meaningful products while experimenting with materials and processes. After RCA, I started Studio Sahil which focuses on handblown glassware, home products and wearable accessories alongside digital educational tools and design consulting services.
Our notable exhibitions include Lexus Design Award 2019, Milan Design Week, Triennale Museum, Aram Gallery, Mint Gallery, and London Design Festival. We also had an opportunity to give a TEDx talk in Istanbul in 2019.
You graduated from RCA in 2017, since then how did your studio and artistic practice evolve?
When I was in the RCA, I was still seeking validation at times for my projects and trying to understand the business side of running a studio. Since then, I learned more networking and business skills, how to analyse the market and not necessarily always seek this validation anymore. If I am happy with the project and do all my best, it shows in the end result. I focus on research and development rather than thinking about if people will like it or not.
During the pandemic, I couldn’t create blown glass for a while and decided to shift to education and digital tools. Starting a Youtube channel, learning video editing tools, becoming a part-time at a university faculty, and getting more involved in education also changed how I run my studio and communicate to the public.
Sahil is the Turkish word for coast or shore. Your collections also respond to the word ‘sahil’ in a way. Can you explain how your collections start and get inspired? What is your research process like?
There are two layers to ‘sahil’ for me. The first one is coasts have more to their stories as they change and evolve over time which I see reflected in my studio practice. The second layer is the sand infused glassware which are made through collection of small amounts of sands from different locations. As the raw material of glass is sand, I have been interested in ‘what would happen if I develop a way of combining glass with sand from different locations?’ With this question in mind, I started experimenting with sands from Iceland, Bulgaria, Turkey and Miami. With the glass artist and technicians I work with, we made test spheres and recorded each result. I also seeked and developed ways to control where the sand is applied on the vessels depending on its functional purpose.
The project expanded into other locations as people wanted to become involved with this project. People brought me sands from their family trips and honeymoons and asked for bespoke glass pieces to make their memories into tangible objects. As coasts change and no sand stays the same, the sand they brought me is time and site-specific.
Open Space is curating an exhibition by Studio Sahil for the 20th year edition of London Design Festival. What are you showing, and can you explain how the selected works respond to the curatorial theme and title Coastal Myths?
I am very excited for this exhibition because 2022 has been selected as the year of Glass by the United Nations and it is the first LDF exhibition that we have the most input in preparation. We will be exhibiting glassware that we have designed and created in the past few months which we haven’t exhibited previously on a wide scale. We are also including some of our signature pieces from the first Sand to Glass collection and ‘Arenophile’ project which was a finalist winner for the Lexus Design Award 2019.
We have also decided to showcase some of our online store products in the ‘Merchandise’ area for people who want to celebrate and support our brand.
You are also exhibiting at Italian Glass Weeks in Venice a day before the London Design Festival. How do you plan and schedule exhibitions whilst also producing a series of work?
Participating in Italian Glass Weeks has been my dream since 2018 when I first visited this event and I am so honoured to be part of this year’s HUB Under 35 exhibition which was selected through a curatorial committee.
I will be showing a unique vase there. Honestly, it has been stressful to figure out the logistics so the vase arrives there on time without any customs delay or damage.
The vase now has a custom made travel crate which I will take with me to the exhibition in person the day before the LDF exhibition setup.
I have a digital and notebook calendar to track all the deadlines and have been creating to-do lists and setting reminders not to forget anything. For the Coastal Myths exhibition, I have been coordinating meetings with our curator Huma Kabakci, our exhibition assistant Arezou, and the venue’s landlord to ensure it is on schedule. We also had multiple meetings with the LDF and Shoreditch Design Triangle event partners and Kyrö Distillery to organise our whisky tasting night.
What inspires you the most as a designer?
I have an endless passion for reading. Whether it is non-fiction, science fiction, or technical research books and the history of design, it is my infinite source of inspiration. Beyond this, I believe as designers; we should observe, listen and analyse. This can be observing people and their habits, listening to podcasts on various topics, and analysing how systems work. I find new ideas mostly while spending time in nature, hence the studio’s name, at coasts and open landscapes.
What does your morning ritual look like?
My days start with Flóki,our Icelandic sheepdog, by jumping to bed and waking me up. I am in my active clothes by 8:30 to take him out for a walk and have a morning coffee with other dog owners from our neighbourhood. Then I come home, I either exercise if I have the time or answer a few emails and have breakfast. After breakfast, I get ready for my work day and walk to my studio with Flóki.
Lastly, what is next?
I look forward to focusing on doing new projects with glass as well as furniture with other materials. Since I enjoy the educational side as well, I will be creating more online tutorials. I also would like to prepare new design education tools.