Beginning her career by commercial art direction, Güliz Mustafaoğlu used her knowledge of materials and art to design jewelry for herself. After taking some courses on jewelry design, she quit art directing and created her jewelry brand, Yuka. She continues shaping her collections based on geometrical forms at her own studio in Maçka.
How does Güliz Mustafaoğlu define herself? Could you introduce yourself a bit?
I was born in 1982, in İzmir. I came to İstanbul to study Motion Picture/Television in Marmara University. After graduation I was interested in art direction and I went to London, England to get a more specific education. For a year, I took various courses on interior design and art direction. During this time I was introduced to many materials, did many drawings and got some opinions on design. When I came back I began working as an art director for commercials.
This is what I have done. How I define myself is a bit deeper. Creating, designing, to witness the birth of something are what I love the most in life. Every project and job that involve these things excite me. I am generally cheerful and hardworking, if I have began something I will do anything I can to finish it at once. I don’t like prolonging my work. I would rather concentrate on what I have begun and finish it the best way I can.
How did you decide to end art directing and begin jewelry design?
As I was working as an art director, I was making jewelry out of different materials for myself. Of clay, of stones… These were very fun times for me. I wanted to improve myself a bit and work with metal, so I took a jewelry design course. I continued for around 2 years; I had found what I was looking for. As the designs were piling up, my enthusiasm was growing. I loved art direction as well but it was a very demanding job; it had very long hours and hard conditions. And frankly, I was tired of it. By switching to jewelry design and setting up my own studio, I began a stress-free, peaceful life.
How was Yuka born?
Yuka came into existence while I was designing jewelry for myself. In 2010, we decided to put my designs at my friend’s shop for sale. Of course, we needed a name. Yuka is the name of one of my favorite plants, and also a girl’s name In Japan. I loved this name because I found it appropriate for my designs.
What inspires you while you work on your collections?
While designing my collections, I like to work with different materials and see where they take me. So I can steer my collections that way too. For my last collection I used natural stones. Natural stones are an endless world, you could come up with different designs until the end of your life.
Now for my new collection I want to create something with strings. My designs are usually geometry-based. I add on to those.
Could you summarize a collection’s creation process?
The collection first begins taking shape in my mind. Afterwards I put it on paper and let it rest for a bit. Then I will begin preparing the moulds with wax or traditional methods. This step is the one I think and work on the most during the whole process.
After the main moulds are formed, we begin reproducing them. I get some help from other studios for casting and coating. Once the pieces are formed, only retouching work is left. If enamel or natural stones are to be added; or if chains or strings will be attached, this is the step to do so. And finally, we begin the work for lookbook photography, which personally I care a great deal about.
How do you choose your materials?
I don’t limit myself. I start working with whichever material I believe will be a better match for the collection I have in mind. Its hardness, softness, color, strength builds the basis for that collection.
Does the fact that you were once an art director help you prepare your collections?
I believe it does, yes. Each design is formed with the balance between shape and color. Setting that ratio and balance right helps me express the design well. I believe what I have done in the past adds to what I do now, and vice versa.
Is there a dominant thought in your designs?
The dominant thought on my designs is geometry. Everything, each form on nature comes from a geometrical basis. This linear perfection effects me deeply. I always try to apply it to some length in my designs, being careful not to make it too complicated.
Does jewelry design have changing trends like fashion design does?
Jewelry design walks hand in hand with fashion design, of course. The movements that affect fashion design affect jewelry design as well. You can suddenly begin seeing the same designs everywhere. For example since last year, this trend has been ear cuffs and palm cuffs. We have been seeing different versions of those. For me, the important thing in fashion is for the creator to add his/her own take on the subject.
How do you spend an ordinary day at the studio? Can you work with discipline?
My days at the studio are usually busy. I begin my days by checking my e-mails. If we have sold a product online, we prepare it to send. If we have sold out of certain products, we begin producing them again. If everything is alright on that front, we begin drawing for the new collection or preparations for the new moulds. Days are spent like this. I am a very disciplined worker. I prioritize my to-do list and cross items off one by one.
Are there any cities you would like to live in apart from Istanbul?
I think I would like to live in Barcelona. It’s my favorite city in Europe. It has a beautiful climate, it is a city with an artistic spirit and streets are lively, full of people. On the other hand, you can take a 10-minute walk on the beach and swim on a beautiful shore… In a metropolis like Istanbul, we cannot even begin to imagine something like this.
What are your future plans? New projects, collections?
I am currently working on a new collection. I am very excited about this. I am looking into old weaving techniques and different threads. I would like to put them together with metal and create new jewelry with them. I also look into fairs and expositions abroad. I would love to participate in one of them next year.
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