Alper Nakri

March 2, 2018

In his own words Alper Nakri talks about connecting the psychogeography of found items and exploring their second life as lights.

“I grew up in Istanbul, a magical beautiful city with 1,700 years of history. Growing up I used to build toys like swords and trains with the neighbourhood carpenters leftover wood at our summer house in Buyukada. I was always truly impressed with the variety of design in Istanbul and automatically built a visual sense – design in Istanbul gives you clues about the era it has witnessed and stories that have been told through the ages by numerous civilisations. This influenced my decision to study cinema and TV production at university, soon after I found myself working in the film and TV industry shooting for major networks and channels such as Discovery Channel, History Channel and the Travel Channel, I also created motion graphics for TV shows and was even nominated for an Emmy Award, but something was still missing.

After spending a lot of time in front of screens I realised that what I really wanted to do was design real objects that people can touch and feel, objects that have the power to change people’s daily lives and their environment in a good way. Discovering my capability for making things rather than buying them changed my vision and inspired me more and more.

My interest in lighting design is a little more than the satisfaction I feel when I look at beautifully crafted light fixtures. What really impresses me is the fact that lighting is one of the most powerful tools you can use to change peoples moods in different environments; you can make them feel good, disturbed, curious or excited. You can alter their perceptions solely with lighting, you can make the exact same place feel much more premium, warmer or calmer and that’s a beautiful feeling.

My team consists only of me, I dream, I draw and I build – from wood working to processing metal, collecting material to dealing with electrical components; this gives me complete freedom to express my style and my character. Spontaneity is one of the key qualities of my process; I ride a motorcycle and enjoy getting lost so I can discover new places, on one ride I came across a junkyard which I immediately approached and what I saw transported me to a different time. I walked around the broken wings of old warplanes, torn pilot seats, switches and consoles and asked myself how did that wing break? Who sat on that terribly torn pilot seat? Did they eject themselves and survive? Did they die? Or maybe it was a test flight and he graduated because of their great performance, who knows!

I collected many items from that junkyard brought them back to my atelier and started researching, finding out which parts belonged where, dating, dreaming and then building. Connecting the psychogeography of its past experience, from being a part of 1940’s aeronautics to a light fixture in 2018.

I have a particular routine that starts with the material itself. I like playing with the existing limits of the material, I force myself to make the best out of it, I don’t draw pages of sketches, I don’t build my designs in 3D software, I just close my eyes and make what I imagine come to life. Spontaneity becomes my drive and the main quality that triggers my creativity, little accidents and artefacts can transform into wonderful surprises and that excites me.

My favourite material is walnut wood, being in California definitely helps when looking for a great dark grain. I love the smell of it while I’m cutting, sanding and working. I prefer putting myself in the viewer’s position when designing. Because walnut is dark it does not bounce any light – this can sometimes be a good or a problematic thing. Walnut is an unforgiving wood but so far hiding LED lights with heatsinks has worked out well. I don’t like light interacting with materials, I’m a big fan of directional and shaped lights, for me light colour rendering is very important, my lights are always warm, I try to get them between 2,200 to 2,700k.

I’m deeply impressed by the fact that something I created lives another life in someone else’s physical space. That feeling helped me figure out that making things is my vehicle to contact and connect with people – my creations are my statements. In Aero Series for example, my lighting products don’t just illuminate rooms they literally tell stories. The world is too big and life is too precious to focus on one goal and live your entire life around it, you have to live multiple lives, by meeting new people, learning new skills and practising new methods to create – I’m constantly thinking of new, creative lighting product ideas; I make prototypes all the time.

Sometimes a very promising idea becomes something that’s not so promising, but other times, a quick, simple idea can be converted into an exciting product with the help of little accidents and surprises. When you can enjoy the process rather than just focusing on the result you increase your chances of making something truly creative.

At the moment I’m working on a series of lights called Sense of Balance, which challenges balance and illusion. The collection will include a table lamp, a pendant lamp, a wall, and a floor light. I’m also preparing for the second Aero Series, after making its debut at Milan Design Week 2017 and receiving the ‘Best innovative Lighting Design Award’ from the American Society of Interior Designers, the first Aero Series has received a significant amount of media exposure and received some flattering reviews, that have inspired me to continue the series with new designs, new stories and new experiences.”