Red hook, Brooklyn; an industrial peninsula that has a historical importance for the industrializtion of New York City. However, these days, it is possible to come across many innovative and young design and artist studios while randomly wandering the streets through the industrial textured area. That is how we came across Thislexik studio, founded by Vedat Ülgen. Here are the details of our “Container” Studio visit:
What does “Thislexik” mean and how did you come up with this crazy name?
It’s me. I came up with the name “Thislexik” due to my dyslexia; it’s how I would spell “dyslexic.” I want to show people the tangible world through a dyslexic’s mind, flipping a ma- terial’s traditional uses on its head, jumbling its meaning(s) and maybe causing confusion. Thislexik is chaotic order—or orderly chaos. I relate my creativity to my dyslexia and what’s a better name than the thing that makes me creative?
How did the company’s journey begin, and where is it going?
I wanted to make a definitive break away from traditional contemporary design principles, and enter a realm of experimentation, where aesthetics, science, and humor intersect. There’s something beautiful about a product blending seamlessly with its surroundings, but I find it more pleasing when a piece makes you stop in your tracks and ask, “How is that made?” I like to think there’s a certain “wow” factor to my pieces, not only in the way they look, but how they are put together, what materials are used to create something unexpected.
Going into our third year as an LLC, Thislexik has grown exponentially. Only a year ago, Thislexik was under the radar; we had maybe one or two press write-ups and few sales. Now we’ve been featured in print magazines, commissioned for gallery shows, and our sales have increased dramatically. People are starting to recognize some of our seminal pieces, like the Arc Light or Bond Arm Chair.
We just debuted four new collections at ICFF earlier this month and had an extremely positive response. I’m excited to see where this latter half of the year will take Thislexik!
Why didn’t you rent an office space—why shipping containers?
To be honest, when it came time to look for renting a space, it was out of my budget as a start-up owner. So when I realized I could purchase shipping containers, it led me to a new idea entirely: I could build a sustainable studio for about half the cost of rent out of shipping containers while implementing eco-friendly practices. In a way, Thislexik was built upon sustainable design practices, like many other studios, but what sets us apart is not only what we create, but where we create it; I think that’s what sets Thislexik apart.
The containers were my first and only architectural endeavor, and, with the help of architect Değer Cengiz, we were able to create a rather surprisingly spacious space that promotes open communication while doubling as a production space and offices. I rescued the containers from being dropped to the bottom of the Hudson River, added a green roof that filters rainwater, pellet burning stoves, and a compost toilet. I would have never been able to apply so many eco-friendly facets to a studio that I rented. So, in the end, the expensive rent was a blessing in disguise!
What is the Thislexik collective?
Collaboration plays a key role in every part of Thislexik. As a young designer myself, I know how valuable relationships in the design industry can be, so I wanted to create a platform where multidisciplinary creatives could share their talents and projects with a larger audience. I invite New York based designers to join the collective when I see that their work reflects a new standard for design, and we give them a profile on the website, promote their work on our own social media, and will be opening up a separate shop for the collective in the coming months.
You participated in ICFF this year and you experienced Design Week. How was it?
For Thislexik specifically, our booth location led to a lot of foot traffic and we had a lot of interesting feedback on our new collections; our products seemed to resonate well with the consumer, which is what we were going for this year, as opposed to last year’s “wow factor.”
What was most interesting was the amount of sustainable design. So many designers were using recycled, reclaimed, and renewable materials which is something I try to use in my own designs. I think green design is having a comeback and people are taking notice again..
Where do you see Thislexik in 10 years?
I see Thislexik being an experimental design firm that puts people out of their comfort zones. I envision a boutique Droog of sorts -a place that breaks habits and challenges traditional design techniques, forcing people to see and in- teract with everyday objects differently. I think we’ve already gotten a good start, but I want to influence culture and how people interact within it – not only the design world.
If Thislexik had to pick one material and one color to represent itself, what would it be?
That’s such a difficult question to answer. I like to experiment with and explore any and all materials. My favorite book is Materials for Design by Chris Lefteri, which explores material behaviors and characteristics. There are vases made of fish scales and bowls made from algae. Lefteri addresses topics and materials that you would never think of as capable of making something and applying them to everyday, sustainable design. I’d never want to confine myself or Thislexik to any single material!
As for Thislexik’s color, I’m immediately drawn to lime green. Not only is it my favorite color, it has such an evocative meaning in terms of color psychology. Lime green is distinctive, sporadic, fun, and slightly aggressive – everything Thislexik is.
How do you design and make things happen?
I let the material guide my designs. Every material has its constraints and restrictions. I like to push the boundaries of what a material can do, and eventually become.
Most of our creations are inspired by products that people are used to seeing and how they are constructed and flipping that concept on it’s head. What you see is not what you get.