Şener Besim explores the Ottoman Empire in an iconoclastic collection of eyewear. Born in Australia to Albanian and Turkish parents, Besim has created an eyewear collection, ŞENER BESIM, which embodies the merging of two cultures where youth, freedom and design meet tradition, form and technical excellence. The visual culture of the Ottoman Empire fascinates with its rigorous exuberance and decorative excess anchored in logic and theory. Across its vast former territory from Northern Africa, through Turkey and to the Balkan states fragments of complex geometries, intricate mosaics and staggering arabesques mark one of the most important creative movements, ever. The Ottoman Empire was the very heart of the world, and the first true fusion of the mindsets of East and West.
Can you describe your line and the main features of your brand in a few words?
I didn’t want to, nor today to I undertake a process whereby I immediately identify the form. But I had this idea of ‘framing space’ and of harnessing the power of Ottoman aesthetics in general and Ottoman architecture in particular – and it’s these twin goals which lead me to eyewear. The Ottomans achieved the highest level of architecture in their lands. They mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet large scale domes, and achieving perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as articulated light and shadow. This element of space is reflected in the collection, whereby the curvature and cylindrical shapes almost float on the face, with a hint of geometry of arabesque design. I am absorbed both by what I see in the tangible result and what I feel of its spiritual dimension. This I wanted to explore re-contextualized to a degree with Innovation, technical excellence and my love of minimalist design with a look towards the future.
Do you know Pitti Uomo and which are your expectations behind this project?
Yes, I know Pitti Uomo and for me it is the height of innovation in the Fashion industry-
Can you tell us something about what we will see in Florence (the main inspirations behind the collections and something about it)?
There are two specific types of titanium applied in this collection. Both reflect the highest pedigree using aerospace technology and construction methods. Unlike most other eyewear fabrication, the composition is not incorporating additional alloys. The titanium I utilize is pure and of the highest grade available. The gold used throughout the Ottoman era was reserved for more elite pieces. The designs often reflected complex filigree work and incorporated Persian and Byzantine motifs. The process I applied drawers from this understanding. I examined each composition no different to approaching a fine piece of jewelry. One other integral material element is the 24-karat gold plating applied to the gold mirror lenses. This is undertaken in France before being handed over to the Japanese craftsmen.