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Celebrating Creativity: Barış Erdoğdu

Root Hotels and Root Karaköy’s chairman of the board Barış Erdoğdu believes every event that touches art makes a lasting impression, and that today’s audience cares more about events with an aspect of social responsibility.

Sweater: Hugo Boss

Pants: Vakko


Can you tell us about your career? I was late to enrol in a university because I had started working at a very young age. I studied Media Communication Systems at Bilgi University. Maybe it was because I was at a more mature age but I found it easy to go through classes and could interpret what I learned and embed it in my own life. Meanwhile, I continued my family’s business in shipping line operations and marine transport. I worked on a lot of international maritime projects. I’ve always loved creating new movements and following innovation. For instance, one of our vessels received an environmental award in Japan. I joined the entertainment industry in 2015 with Mitte restaurant and nightclub. We received the “Time Out Special Achievement” award in 2016, and the “İncili Gastronomy” award in 2018 and 2021. I see myself as a good customer of the entertainment and hospitality industries. Today, tourism not only serves people’s needs for accommodation but also people who wish to experience different lifestyles and cultures. That’s why our group built the brand Root, referring to our own roots. This brand has had a long journey; our motto is “art, culture, and society.” As part of this concept, our first guest at Bodrum Yalıkavak was a French sound healer based in Tulum. During the day, we also offered our clients a lifestyle adorned with sports activities, good food, and good music. At one of our incomplete villas, we built an art workshop with Sedef Gali and hosted exhibitions and events there. After that, other hotels followed suit and collaborated with artists or the art scene. I take pride in leading the industry in this direction. Organically, a community was born among the guests at our events. Root Istanbul organized nine concerts, attended by 4,000 people, at Binbirdirek Cistern and left a lasting mark on the Turkish entertainment industry. I then partnered up with SuB Karaköy and laid the foundations for Root Karaköy. In 2020, inside the hotel, I opened Foxy Karaköy which is a gastronomy wine bar, boasting a selection of wines made from local grapes in Turkey. It then moved to its current place in Nişantaşı. Foxy is named after the “foxy” wine from Doug Wregg’s “The Real Alternative Wine Glossary.” In 2021, we opened Root Karaköy and became the official hotel for Istanbul Modern.

Can you tell us about Root Karaköy’s journey in culture and art in parallel with its motto “art, culture, and society”? Root Karaköy is the official hotel for Istanbul Modern. As our first guest, we invited Peruvian graffiti artist Pesimo. His mural titled “Spirit of Peace” which celebrates the power of women still decorates the back wall of Root Karaköy. In 2022, we opened the exhibition Spirit of Peace, II. Participated by eight artists from various countries, this NFT exhibition was curated by Pınar Goodstone. This February, the exhibition will continue in Bali. In September 2022, the hotel hosted the first solo oil painting exhibition by Nilgün Gümüş, built around the themes of peace and women. The exhibition presents portraits made by Nilgün Gümüş of women who are authors, thinkers, politicians, activists, and artists that have inspired her. For this year’s biggest exhibition, we will welcome Inguna Skuja and Melissa Braden, whom our curator Pınar Goodstone met at Venice Biennale. Known as Skuja Braden in the art scene, the duo will present their painted porcelain sculptures to Istanbulites as part of Pride Istanbul in June.

What do you think are the secrets to success in professional life, especially in the hospitality and entertainment industries?

Every event that touches art makes a lasting impression. The secret to success lies in offering unforgettable moments to your guests. To do this, you need to work with art and artists.

Much like everything else, the culture of celebration has gone through some transformation. What are your thoughts on this change seen in your industry? People do not need a reason to go out and have fun. Celebration is, naturally, one of the most essential ways to have fun. People love celebrating. I’ve been a close observer of this in the entertainment industry for nearly 30 years. For example, back in my youth, the “American way” was the trend. The ‘90s brought a change with the Turkish pop movement. The industry is still very much alive and continues to change and give birth to new trends. Of course, we have to keep up with these trends, but we need to do this without making any compromise on quality and certain priorities. Currently, tourism is going through a “romantic consumption” phase. People want to go to new places and blend new things into their experiences. New professions have become popular, say 15 to 20 years ago, no one would guess like DJs, musicians, chefs, or artists in recent years. They’re constantly travelling, learning new things, and sharing their experience with their followers. Ours is a highly dynamic industry and I believe today’s audience cares more about events with an aspect of social responsibility.


PHOTOGRAPHY: SAMET TURKAN PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT: MELİH ARAN STYLING: GÖZDE EKİCİ

HAIR, MAKEUP: ONUR BAYRAM, AHMET ÇEPEL

PRODUCTION: MÜGE SARIOĞLU

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