Istanbul, Turkey

Drawing from an inspiring artistic family heritage, UNIQKA is an Istanbul-based creative studio that invigorates old craftsmanship traditions with new form and a subtle contemporary aesthetic.

Centered on a love of leather, UNIQKA was founded in 2015 by Kerem Aris, a self-taught designer who combines skills learned from his father, Koray Aris, a renowned sculptor and contemporary artist, with traditional leathercraft techniques and industrial technology. One year after the company was established, Kerem’s life partner, Merve Parnas brought her expertise in luxury retail and marketing to the table and is a significant driving force behind the business, particularly across areas such as communications, research, and design, allowing Kerem to focus on art direction and the production processes.

In addition to their own designs, UNIQKA’s founders have collaborated with an impressive list of designers including Jacob de Baan, Bilge Nur Saltik and CARA \ DAVIDE. The collection comprises of handmade sculptural modern lighting pieces, side tables, and smaller office accessories to adorn any workspace or home with organizational functionality as much as stylistic originality. Merging flowing curvaceous leather-bound shapes with angular metal structures and organic materials work in harmony to lend a calming geometric balance and understated elegance to each piece. While local artisans produce the wooden, metal, and glass elements; leather is Kerem and Merve’s material of choice, not only because it is widely used in the influential artwork of Koray Aris but also due to its sustainability. Creating all the leatherwork by hand, the founding duo source from a small selection of environmentally-friendly suppliers from South America and Europe. When they have leftover pieces, they design new products in which they can incorporate even the smallest piece. They see leather as a precious by-product of the food industry and endeavor to convert it into an eternal form, forging a lasting connection between the creator and user.

Having exhibited at Milan Design Week, London Design Festival, Istanbul Design Week, and Istanbul Design Biennial, UNIQKA is becoming a respected recognized name in the international design sphere. The minimalist pendant and standing lamps from Jacob de Baan’s Zero Collection, launched at Milan Design Week in 2017, were received particularly well by international press, propelling them to iconic status within the brand’s offering. With a retail presence in the design shop of Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the leading contemporary art museum in Turkey, alongside Istanbul and Cappadocia’s most prestigious furniture and concept stores and an increasing number of clients and stores in Europe and North America, UNIQKA is a young name swiftly gaining ground. With products from five more designers lined up for launch in 2019, this is sure to be an exciting year for the brand as its unique story unfolds.