By Adam Hyman
I visited Istanbul for the first time last weekend. I love exploring new cities – not only to discover new places, ideas and cultures – but to also relate them back to London. It’s fascinating to take note of the ways cities and their inhabitants go about certain tasks – be it commuting, grabbing their first hit of coffee in the morning or how they spend their precious free time – and how this differs compared to the way Londoners do it.
There is no such thing as a perfect city – Istanbul’s hideous traffic, for example, is enough to put you off urban living – but it was interesting to see that it’s real hub for independent shops and restaurants. In the areas of Karaköy and Beyoglu, small coffee shops, design shops and funky restaurants - that would never be able to afford to open in New York or London - have opened their doors to locals and discerning tourists. It was also somewhat refreshing to visit a city that didn’t have the same restaurants and retail as London or another European city.
I had to venture out to the the area of Istanbul known as Maslak for a meeting, which meant a 30 minute journey on the metro (TFL take note of how clean and civilised Istanbul’s metro system is) to the city's business district. Earlier on my trip, I’d visited Bae Mae – a cute independent boutique in Karaköy – where I’d got talking to the owner who mentioned about a new concept store and restaurant in the middle of a car repair area of an industrial estate, which turned out to be close to where I was going for my meeting.
Sanayi 313 is the brainchild of two brothers, Enis and Amir Karavil. They both studied economics at the Bentley University in Massachusetts, with Amir going into the family business of automative and construction chemicals and Enis following his passion for interior design at the Inchbald School of Design in London. Sanayi 313 combines interiors, fashion and food.
To get to Sanayi 313, you disembark the metro from ITÜ Ayazaga and head into the neighbouring industrial estate. Raised on the first floor above a garage is this dark, pristine metal structure that stands out from the rest of the tired, knackered buildings that are all covered in well-known car and tyre manufacturers logos. The matt grey silver Mercedes x4 wheel drive – parked at a graceful angle – is an immediate giveaway compared to the rest of the battered vehicles that is not a car repair shop. If it wasn’t already obvious, a large sculpted bonsai tree at the entrance makes it clear that this is not another place to get your brakes changed or an MOT.
An immaculate terrace laid up for service – that hosts all day brunches with a DJ on the weekends – is empty when I visit on a hazy Tuesday morning. The only thing adding colour to the black outdoor furniture and neutral surrounds is the dried pomegranate flower displays on the tables. The ground floor is part shop, part restaurant with an interior design studio on the first floor. The closest comparison I can think of is Truck and Bird in Osaka – a furniture studio in the suburbs that also has a restaurant. Sanayi 313 is a destination. If I lived in Istanbul, I’d make regular pilgrimages to it to check out their latest offerings and sample chef Müge Ergül’s latest creations. On my visit, pastries and cakes had just been taken out of the oven.
This is the future of retail the world over. You cannot get this experience online. The introduction of cafes and restaurants in retail space is something we are going to see more of in the next few years – whether it’s an independent operator like Sanayi 313 or Burberry in London, who are to open a restaurant in their Regent Street HQ. Even if you can buy these niche, specialist products online – why on earth would you. Until Silicon Valley finds a way for us to physically eat from online, food and beverage will be the new driving force behind the future of retail experiences.
Atatürk Oto Sanayi Sitesi 2