Tagesspiegel "Berliner"

Daily mirror "Berliner"

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In December I gave an interview to Daniel Erk from the Tagesspiegel magazine “Berliner”. This resulted in a really nice, 5-page portrait about me and my work with my kilims. Obviously it has reached many kilim enthusiastic people! Many readers have visited me at Kilim Temple or written to me. It's wonderful when you can share your passion with others! Many thanks also to Patrick Desbroses for the beautiful photos.

Turkish carpets as a cultural asset

"If a kilim gets wet, it smells like sheep's wool and sun again"

Turkish carpets are incredibly popular. For Beyza Özler, however, they are more than just cozy furnishings - she preserves them as cultural heritage.

Modern comfort. Beyza Özler in her shop in Prenzlauer Berg. PHOTO: PATRICK DESBROSSES

Beyza Özler dances across the carpets. It's a sunny autumn day, the leaves are still hanging golden and wine-red in the trees on Sredzkistrasse in Prenzlauer Berg, the wind has still something remotely late summer, melancholic, and not yet this biting, wet cold. Özler, dark blonde hair, large, green-grey eyes, is a bit excited, pacing from her desk to the window front and back, sipping lavender tea, which fills her small, warmly colored shop with a gentle scent, and looks at her phone: Soon should it be so far. Once again, a load with eleven roughly square meter sacks full of kilims is about to arrive from Turkey, 450 kilos, a total of 300 pillows, 300 bean bags and 50 kilims. Desk, window front. Then finally - finally! - a white van stops in front of the store, the door jumps open and there they are: "My babies!" calls Özler.

As far as Beyza Özler is concerned, the delivery will not come a day too soon: soon it will be so uncomfortable outside that you will turn up your collar, pull your scarves very tight and think about how you might be a little more comfortable at home can make. It's the best time ever to sell brightly colored, cheerful carpets. And that applies to both the season and the zeitgeist.

The ultimate in modern comfort

Just a few years ago , carpets from Turkey were either for philistines or, pardon me, for idiots. Because either you had come to one because your own idea of ​​a showable living room still envisaged a somewhat gloomy and always burgundy patterned carpet. Or one had been tricked into doing a package tour through Anatolia at the end of a so-called factory tour.

For some years now, however, kilims have been the pinnacle of modern comfort: the colors radiate bright and powerful red, purple, yellow, ocher and orange. The forms are coarse and clear, yet playful. They show Elibelinde, a highly abstracted woman with her hands on her hips. They show Kurt Agz and Akrep, wolf's mouth and scorpion, old protective symbols of the shepherds. Or Göz and Musaka, the eye and the amulet, little ones

Beyza Özler dreams of one day opening a school for kilim weaving. PHOTO: PATRICK DESBROSSES

Triangles and squares that promise protection from the evil eye and good luck in general. Above all, however, the kilims that Özler is now excitedly pulling out of the sacks look as if Mark Rothko, Paul Klee and the carpet weavers of the Navajo Indians had gotten together, decapitated two bottles of bubbly and designed them together.

In fact, says Özler, Kemal Pasha Atatürk once sent an expedition to America to investigate where the similarities between the patterns in the carpets of the Turkish nomads and those of the Aztecs and Mayas came from - with an unclear outcome.

Nonetheless, the old Turkish weavings blend amazingly seamlessly into what is called California style in the interior design world: white walls without wallpaper, large-leaved plants, large bowls, lots of cushions, kitsch from India and Africa, decorations made of macrame and branches - and brightly colored carpets like the ones Özler sells.

Turkey? Far away

However, the fact that Beyza Özler, whose parents emigrated from Turkey in the 70s and came to the Stuttgart area, would sell Turkish carpets was not as foreseeable as it seems from today. "My parents came to Germany to start a new life," says Özler with a slightly Swabian accent. "That definitely shaped me. My mother always said that I should never marry a Turkish man."

Özler's relationship with Turkey remained ambivalent: on the one hand, she went to a Turkish afternoon school, on the other hand, she says, "the loud boys sitting in the back row on the bus always embarrassed her a bit." Her parents were already running three fashion boutiques in Stuttgart, and Özler's further path seemed to be mapped out: After school, to Paris, of course, then to study textiles in Nagold in the deep Black Forest, to then work at the small but exquisite fashion fair "Ideal" in to hire Berlin. Turkey? Far away. From time to time she played Turkish psychedelic rock in the legendary King Size Bar or in the small cubbyhole of the Picnic Club on Dorotheenstrasse. That's it.

Özler's little shop in Prenzlauer Berg is also a bridge between cultures, beyond politics, racism and clichés

Özler's path led farther and farther away - from his parents, who would have liked to have left their small Stuttgart fashion empire to his daughter, also from fashion, from whose vanity and ruthlessness Özler was increasingly disappointed and annoyed, and even more so from Turkey, which in all has attracted attention over the years only through political bravado. Özler trained as a yoga teacher in India, then she became pregnant. "At the time, my Turkish was really catastrophic. I couldn't even count properly, didn't even know the days of the week - because I just wasn't really interested until then," she says. "But I noticed: If I don't learn it, then I can don't pass it on to my children and the thread breaks with me."

A door opens here

Özler pulled himself together, enrolled in Turkology, attended lectures with her newborn daughter, learned Turkish, read literature, and began to study Sufism and mysticism. But it wasn't enough. In the summer, Özler traveled to Turkey to visit a friend in Kas - but when the vacation was over after two weeks, she knew: this is home. This is a fresh start. A door opens here.

So she rented an attic apartment in Çerçeler, a town above Kas. She bought her first kilim in a carpet shop in the village. On a hot summer day in 2013, after Özler had already bought several carpets for her apartment, the dealer took her to the mountains of Gömbe, where the carpets are woven. Özler fell in love with the stony yet mighty landscape on the spot.

Above all, however, she fell in love with three small shepherd's huts made of natural stone and wood, which the carpet dealer had removed and Özler suspects would have gladly sold them to her. "I can still remember exactly the moment I walked in: that scent of cedar and juniper!"

The rocky, mighty landscape of the mountains of Gömbe. PHOTO: BEYZA ÖZLER

Özler immediately had the next step in mind: a spiritual retreat in the mountains of Anatolia, relaxing a bit, getting to know Turkish cuisine a bit, especially for mothers with small children looking for a bit of rest, a bit of relaxation and lots of nature . The name: "Wild Heart, Free Soul", Özler's life motto. She invited friends and acquaintances, gave yoga classes - but as enthusiastic as the visitors were about nature and relaxation: They were even more enthusiastic about the cushions and carpets with which Özler had made the barren huts comfortable.

Yöruk means nomad

Özler scurried about the villages, bought the kilims that seemed the most beautiful to her with her well-trained taste, and organized the first bazaar in Berlin in April 2014, which was an immediate success. And she began to study the carpets more closely. with her story. Began to no longer buy from shops on the Turkish coast, but directly from the women in the mountains who wove the kilims. Began to buy old and broken carpets at markets, delivered them to Istanbul, cleaned and restored them, and had the irreparable carpets sewn into pillows. "The special thing about kilims is that they were traditionally woven by women for their own families," says Özler. "The design is unaffected by customer requests, zeitgeist or politics."

The Kilim weavers make art without seeing themselves as artists. PHOTO: BEYZA ÖZLER

And the carpets turned out to be a piece of origin that fits perfectly into Özler's life. "When a kilim gets wet, it smells like sheep's wool and the sun again," she says. "It reminds me of summers with my grandparents in Anatolia."

Slowly, piece by piece, Özler built her own idea of ​​home: out of her parents' aversion to Turkish machismo. From the love of fashion, fabrics and patterns. From spirituality, from yoga, tea and pillows. From Turkish Sufism and the millennia-old patterns and traditions of the kilims, which were woven by women before Islam and Turkey even existed. And from Turkish terms that she weaves into everything she says and writes: Yolcu means passenger. Just means light. Sevgilerle means tender. Öpücükler means kisses. And Yörük, that's how Özler calls himself. That means nomad.

The furniture giants have long been offering similar patterns

But Özler's search for a home has long since become a race against time: Fewer and fewer women in the mountains north of Kas are taking up the big looms; Carpets have become cheap, work in the fields is more profitable. For Özler, however, the women who have always been weaving carpets between Gömbe and Mount Akdag are not just manual workers. They are artists whose work is not sufficiently appreciated because they are simple women from farming families. For Özler, the small replica of “The Carpet Dealers” by the Iranian painter Jafar Petgar is the epitome of her family and... PHOTO: PATRICK DESBROSSES

Özler dreams of one day opening a school for Kilim weaving. Maybe put together an illustrated book, a collection of the great art of the Kilims. To be on the safe side, she has all the kilims that she sells in her shop extensively photographed. She is already working on a documentary about the Kilim weavers. Perhaps, says Özler, she will manage to make the kilims more lucrative for the women of Anatolia than the fields at some point. But that's going to be difficult: the large furniture stores have long had similar patterns in their ranges. The carpets come from factories, who looks so closely?

Sometimes, says Beyza Özler, she now has the feeling that she is no longer interested in selling the carpets. Above all, it is about saving these works of art before they disappear or, which also happens, end up in the garbage. "My father told me that my grandmother and my aunts used to weave carpets themselves," says Özler at the very end of the conversation, when the little glasses of lavender tea are empty. "I looked for them. But it was all gone."

https://www.tagesspiegel.de/themen/tagesspiegel-berliner/tuerkische-carpets-als-kulturgut- wird-ein-kilim-nass-smells-he-again-after-sheep-wool-und-sonne/23733624.html

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