Yenilik Onlardan Sorulur

The young professionals of this new era are changing the rules of the game. We talked about the changing business world with Lalin Akalan who’s renowned for her innovative works in the art world; Senior Executive at Amazon Alptuğ Çopuroğlu, founder of callingmag Can Zeydan, and Müge Büyüktalaş and Müge Tüzer, the creators of the enterprise “Tanrı Misafiri.”


Renowned for her innovative works in the art world, Lalin Akalan incorporates technology into the creative industry with ground-breaking projects such as xtopia and ArtChainGame.


Dress: David Koma, Beymen

Shoes: Alexander Wang, V2K


You create strategies and enterprises that bring creative industries together with technology? Can you tell us about the beginning of this journey?


To be honest, it’s difficult for me to remember where it really began. I might have been born into this journey. I come from a family that works in industry and is interested in all branches of art. Even before my professional life, I grew up surrounded by a discussion of technology and creativity. I listened to countless stories from people who had passionate productions in this field. I had come to realise that I was good at both, and I enjoy both disciplines thoroughly. I’ve been further motivated and expanded by the people I’ve met along the journey, the influence I was able to exert, and the feedback I received. I’m excited and curious to see where it’ll take me next!


With xtopia, you have created a “global world-building enterprise.” Can you tell us about xtopia?


xtopia is a global world-building enterprise with a narrative that focuses on creativity, captivating experiences, technology, and humanity. While serving as a collective social dreaming centre, the platform also utilises gamification and world-building methods as means to deal with socio-cultural challenges and to seek shared solutions for societal problems. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, xtopia curates and creates to operate in the fields of art, culture, entertainment, and technology and generates content together with its community in order to expand its collective mind. xtopia leans on various activities, organises event series and exhibitions, and curates captivating audio-visual experiences. We also collaborate with shared corporations, culture institutions, and companies to organise performances, venue-based productions, artist panels, and workshops.


What does “newness” mean to you? How do you adapt to the fast change of our experiences and habits?


Indeed, most of the technologies we regard to be new aren’t really that recent. The metaverse was mentioned in books from the ‘90s. We’ve been experiencing virtual commerce for many years thanks to games. We thought the new technology would be about flying cars or robots ruling the world, which have been a part of the literature since the 1930s. So, I don’t really feel surprised to see new technologies. I believe it catches up with time when everybody takes an interest in that technology at the same time. That’s how we collectively keep up with the development of technology. This collective effort will help us carry technology to a place it deserves. It’s so exciting!


How do you implement technology into your job? How do you adapt to fast-paced changes in technology?


I used to be an avid follower of technology before it became my job. When you’re following something out of interest, you don’t find it hard to adapt into your work or that you’re wasting time; it enables you to focus your mind and increases the quality of the output. I’m constantly communicating with creative communities in the field. We feed each other and make the process easier. Bringing technology together with the creative industry isn’t a widespread practice in Turkey. In that regard, I feel a certain responsibility and keep track of the rest of the world. So, I’m highly motivated.


Shirt: Beymen Collection

Corset, pants: Balenciaga


If you were to move your work into the metaverse today, how would you design it?


I’ve already designed it with a few projects that we haven’t announced yet. I was always excited to think about the future, even when I was merely researching this world. There are many similarities and differences between physical and virtual experiences. Now, I can see the advantages of being able to present people with both of them at the same time. For a long time, certain approaches made us believe that we had to choose one of the two. Why should we push this opportunity away when we can use it to our advantage to experience something brand new? You’ll soon be able to personally experience what I’m talking about!


As a young professional, which aspects of your job makes you the happiest?


Every day within the creative community, I meet someone genius. It’s a valuable position to be able to create a space for them and to learn from them. I’m sure everyone has a colourful world of imagination. I feel empowered when I talk to people who can turn this into a common language. Event management can have its challenges and so can managing large teams, but one of my biggest motivations is to overcome each challenge by coming out stronger. During the process, you’re helped by other professionals who make your job easier; I feel happy when I can work with them and learn something new from them. I’ve always been in love with technology and music, long before the beginning of my career. Being able to engage with them professionally; I frequently remind myself how lucky I am.


What would you recommend to those who are in the beginning of their career?


It’s a precious thing when you begin a career that you love and are excited about. However, I don’t think it’s always healthy to “never give up.” Of course, you should push your limits and tolerate mishaps, but you should also know when to give up. I don’t really see it as giving up; it’s more about doing your best and then deciding not to risk your wellbeing. There’s a very thin line there. Not everything may go according to your plan. You may start a project enthusiastically and design all the details but it might be left unfinished due to something that is related to you or other forces. And it’s alright. I believe it to be a problem when your job is not opening new doors in your mind. I hope bright minds find a way to channel their energy into proper goals. Never be afraid to learn new things. We’re living in a time where everything changes all the time; let it excite rather than frighten you.



Alptuğ Çopuroğlu has over 15 years of experience in digital business models and digitalisation strategies under his belt and currently works as Senior Manager Amazon Turkey. We asked him about the new business models of the digitalising world and his views on innovation.


Full look: Academia


How did business models and digitalisation processes change recently?


I believe the biggest change and growth occurred when we came to realise what digitalisation meant for companies. In the early 2010s, many companies narrowed digitalisation into a few moulds. Retailers described it as launching an e-commerce site, brands that interact with customers as digital marketing, and manufacturers as setting up or renewing an ERP system, and this perspective set certain boundaries on the topic. Today, I can see many companies abandoning this shallow description and ask themselves this question to look for the right answers: How will technologies that are (un)related to us will influence from which source and how we generate income in the future, and how should we adapt to them? This broadening of perspective has immobilised even long-established organisations to create new business models.


What do you think are the biggest opportunities and risks awaiting the global players of the digital world?


I see two points where global actors are both at an advantage and and two where they can be challenged. Their biggest advantage is their power of attraction. It’s getting more and more difficult to find talented people in any discipline, and the labour market has turned into a global market for people that have accumulated a certain level of experience. The giants of the digital world are at an advantage in this challenging climate thanks to their influence and the opportunities they offer to employees. Another advantage is their scale. There’s a gaping chasm between utilising a solution or technology you develop in a market that is worth 80 million and 800 million. You make the same investment but you can generate tens of times the income. I think the biggest risk is their innovation capability. When global actors turn into organisations that employ tens of thousands of people and expand all across the world, they shouldn’t grow heavy-footed and lose their capabilities to create innovation. The second risk is localisation. Global players start from the U.S. and expand through Europe to the rest of the world. In those new markets, they have rivals who have become prominent local or regional players by copying their business model. These rivals may have already defined the rules of the local market. The second challenge faced by global players will be the balance they strike between tapping their global scale and playing the game based on its local rules.


Recently, everything in our lives is new. What does “newness” mean to you? How do you adapt to the fast change of your experiences and habits?


Newness both seems natural and brings along concern. My generation has witnessed fast-paced innovations. I still clearly remember the evening when my father brought home one of the first cell phones and laptops in Turkey. These were followed by personal computers, dial-up modems, mobile phones, smartphones… Looking back at the last 20 to 30 years, only a few innovations from among dozens which were told to “radically change the world” fulfilled this destiny. Even those enabled the evolution of players within the established system through adaptation rather than an overnight revolution. What concerns me about newness is the influence of unexpected events, something my generation experiences for the first time at this scale. Think about COVID, for instance. We were uncertain whether a new order was emerging or co-working was a thing of the past. Now, we’re moving past that uncertainty and witnessing another incident that makes us question the possibility of a new order. How will the war in Ukraine proceed, and will it spread to the rest of the continent? In short, my generation has experienced living with the consequences of technological innovations; however, it lacks experience in the new orders created by social and political events, which is my main cause of concern.


Technology is arguably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about newness. How do you utilise technology in your line of work?


I think I need to make a distinction between using technology for our customers and to improve our business, and using it in my daily life. I encourage and motivate my team to try everything new in order to improve our business and to offer something new to our customers. Regarding myself, I think I’m more conservative in that regard. Until we started working from home with COVID, I used pen and paper to take notes. I still prefer to turn on my computer rather than use my phone to write a long email.


T-shirt: Paul Smith, Beymen

Blazer: Harris Wharf London, Beymen

Pants: Sandro, Beymen

Shoes: Axel Arigato, Vakkorama


As a young professional, which are the happiest aspects of your job?


That it constantly presents me with new problems to solve. I dislike monotony, especially in my professional life. I’m happy to use my experiences from other industries while solving these new problems. I can safely say I’ve chosen the right paths and learned some things from the right people.



What would you recommend to those who are in the beginning of their career?

Have respect for what you do, and wrap your mind well around its fundamental dynamics. Similarly, seek to find organisations and managers who respect your work and are ready to improve you. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to find people who do their job well with a certain level of respect and passion. Those who do are easily recognised and are found by good organisations and managers who are willing to invest in them and their development with new opportunities. Be one of them.



Müge Büyüktalaş and Müge Tüzer united their respective powers in cinema and electronic music to give life to the gastronomy event “Tanrı Misafiri.”* They told us about the idea born of a collaboration between two close friends.


Müge Büyüktalaş

Sweater: Balenciaga, Beymen

Skirt: Mehtap Elaidi

Shoes: Armani, Vakko

Müge Tüzer

Dress: Mehtap Elaidi

Shoes: Miu Miu, Beymen

Earrings: Pearl and More


“Tanrı Misafiri” offers a new and different gastronomy event. How did this idea come about? Can you tell us about the process?


“Tanrı Misafiri” was born of our quest to bring the sense of togetherness, which we longed for during the pandemic, back into our lives. There’s a building in the district of Tophane where we spend time together at our friends’ workshops and houses. During the pandemic, getting together only meant cooking and eating together. Most of the time, we would sit around a table for long hours, and some friends who were in the area or took their dogs for a walk would drop by to eat with us. One day, Müge suggested cooking more dishes and inviting some people; with a sense of collective work, we had our “first” meal together with our friends. Over time, it became a space visited by new people for experiences and sharing.


You started with an idea to spend quality time with your friends. How did this project turn into a business? What were your experiences while adapting this new idea into the business? How did you adapt to the new work order?


We both had different jobs for which we travelled frequently and abroad. The pandemic put a strain on both our industries so we were basically out of jobs. We had a lot of free time so it was easier for us to do research on how to shape a new business and to adapt to the new order of business. You could say we turned challenges into advantages. The fact that our daily lives were embedded in the growth period also had contributions. It may not be easy but when you’re building a new business, it needs to be your top priority for a while.


The process of branding has changed and the concept of community is more important than ever. While creating “Tanrı Misafiri,” how did you approach your branding? How did you manage to build a community with your brand?


“Tanrı Misafiri” is a brand that tells its story by its name. It’s built on reality and not fictional so it has a candid story embedded in life. That’s why people didn’t find it hard to relate to it. We didn’t really have a special strategy; the direction of candour that we wanted to take also shaped the brand’s language. We did our best to prioritise the feeling of the project rather than its economy. It may not work in every industry but this preference helped us create a story out of its own momentum.


Recently, everything in our lives is new - new normal, new order, new technologies… What does “newness” mean to you? How do you adapt to the fast change of your experiences and habits?


Newness requires courage and being open to exploring and learning. Adaptation takes more of an effort. Sometimes, being mentally ready may not be enough to put it into action. Adapting to new things requires creating routines around them.



Müge Büyüktalaş

Blazer: Vakko

Pants: Ganni, V2K

Shoes:

Müge Tüzer

Dress: Ghospell, Vakkorama

Shoes: Attico


Technology is arguably the first industry that comes to mind when we talk about newness. How do you utilise technology and adapt to its changing aspects?


Etymologically, technology means “knowledge of crafts.” In our job, we use micro-level technologies which include, in gastronomy, new combinations and discoveries of flavour, fermented foods, and new cooking techniques. Considering its daily meaning in terms of digital or mechanical innovations, we’re active users of social media and e-commerce.


If you were to carry your work into Metaverse today, how would you design it?


If we were to build a universe in Metaverse, it would be filled with surreal details. We could make it look like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, where you can taste everything from a cloud or a mountain to certain feelings or objects.


As a young professional, which are the happiest aspects of your job?


The best thing about my job is to witness other people’s happiness. A meal caters to more than one sense. We also feel fulfilment because it’s our business despite its challenges and, as the fruit of your efforts, you see something beautiful be born from it.


What would you recommend to those who are in the beginning of their career?


That they believe in themselves, remain open to learning, be honest to themselves, and work hard.


*An unexpected guest that is to be fed and cared for.


Can Zeydan set off to present creators a space where they can freely express themselves and created callingmag, published since 2014, and the online publication series #callingmagseries inspired by social topics and the collective memory. We talked to him about calling’s new projects and the future of publishing.


T-shirt: Academia

Blazer: Fendi, Beymen

Pants: Tom Ford, Beymen

Shoes: Alexander McQueen, Beymen


You have created a new and different publication that is both nourished by traditional magazine publishing and conforms with the characteristics of the digital age. Can you talk about this process?


It’s rather difficult to answer this question because the story has a lot of romance in it. In fact, I’d love to make a documentary about the organisations that are born of the publication era that started changing after the events of Gezi Park and are still operational. This is one of our projects for the near future. About calling, it’s a story of existence whose foundation was built on the need for free thinking and a safe space, which is rarely found in Turkey, especially currently. I wanted to keep a space where I would want to exist happily and where creators can freely express themselves and be heard. I shared this idea with friends whose judgement I trust and with whom I can strive to achieve shared dreams, and we made it happen by leaping into action, without being imprisoned by our ideas.


Do you believe that you have reached the new generation, who has different expectations/interests and likes by designing #callingmagseries as a “hybrid” publication? What do you think is the secret to creating new and lasting works?


callingmag is a publication with an analog spirit, created in 2014. #callingmagseries was born from our discussion as to how we can publish our magazine, which turned thematic after the pandemic, on digital platforms with a unique approach. It was kind of like a thought exercise, an action realised by the effort of our community. It’s the playground where we try to include the voices of different generations without building boundaries. It’s a publication series we create out of love; it’s timeless, candid, and real. You might have heard calling’s motto: “We make what’s new familiar and what’s familiar new.” So, this enables you to wander around people’s minds and to touch their souls in an organic way.


What does “newness” mean to you? How do you adapt to the fast change of your experiences and habits?


Lovingly! We’re not just adapting, we’re also adapting in a way that is both fast and will do us good. This is one of the strengths of our character. It’s a wonderful thing to change and to transform.


The process of branding changes fast while the concept of community is now more important than ever. How did you approach branding while creating calling? How did you manage to create a community with your brand?


The biggest reason behind the creation of calling was the mission to gather the creative community in Turkey and to encourage it to grow and create. So, calling has always been a community. Together with all the elements under this roof, we’re trying to expand and overcome the boundaries drawn by concrete rules of the world. Instead of taking things as they are, we question and deconstruct them if necessary, including ourselves! Brought together under the roof of calling are callingmag, callingprojects, callingsofra, and callinghouse are all open to change and transformation, operating in a dynamic relationship of exchange with the outside world. All our projects rethink current dynamics in a way to respond to the dynamics of the creative community and, more importantly, to make a statement about them; they constantly change shape, take on various feelings, and hopefully carry the spirit of the times within.


Sweater: Vetements, Beymen

Pants: Isabel Benenato, Beymen

Shoes: Alexander McQueen, Beymen


If you were to carry your work into the metaverse today, how would you design it?


While we’re proud to see that we’re making a difference with our content, surrounded by a limited freedom, we’re also thrilled for the opportunity to design it in a free environment that offers almost endless possibilities of experience. We have a metaverse design in mind which will be launched soon and will enable us to create with less limits. By its name, calling is a play-maker that calls out to others, and metaverse is the place where you can play this game best, right?


As a young professional, which are the most satisfying aspects of your job?


It makes me happy to see how any idea based on a dream can be adapted to the real world via a collective production and how masses embrace the content we’re referring to. There’s a spiritual aspect to the domino effect when you introduce two people to one another and to see it transform into a creative collaboration, or just into plain friendship of love.


What would you recommend to those who are in the beginning of their career?


Dream, action, action, action! Don’t get buried in your ideas. This is the best time to be making mistakes. Enjoy the journey, and take a break when you’re tired. Know your companions well, support them, and ask for their support. During this journey, keep in mind to listen to your inner voice, to motivate yourself, and to be proud of your achievements but also remember to not get hung up on them. It’s a never-ending journey. Enjoy the ride, and good luck.


 

Editor in Chief: İrem Bakic & Selim Can Çelik

Digital Content Manager: Gökhan Oğuz Ünal

Photography: Emre Karataşoğlu

Photography Assistants: Mustafa Berber & Uğur Çiftdoğan & Cihan Erken

Styling: Gözde Ekici

Styling Assistant: Aylin Kısa

Hair: Engin Aktaş

Makeup: Erdem Yıldız

Production: Müge Sarıoğlu