What divides Istanbul into two continents? The current? People’s moods? Nature’s courage? The shadow of history? The houses? The offices? When all of these questions are meddling with our minds every day, Les Benjamins opens their second store in “the Asian side”, taking us to the “country”, like the old times… Blending with the streets of Istanbul with Aslı, Bedirhan, Sude, Yasin, İlayda, Sina, Rümeysa, and Sude, we are talking about the chaotic spirit of Istanbul, being at home, and the Asian side.  Join us!

Bedirhan Soral

Istanbul is a perfect combination of the past and the future. On the same day, you can witness the texture and history of the city in Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Galata, and then experience a completely different Istanbul in Nişantaşı, Caddebostan, Maslak. – Bedirhan

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

European side; work, intensity, crowd, fun! Asian side; family, home, peace, calm… The neighborhood I live in is especially very quiet, calm, and peaceful. They both have a special place for me.

What does home mean to you?

Let’s say, “Home is where your cat is!” I have cats inside of my house and the garden, and I can’t think of a house without them. Apart from that, of course, it’s where I feel most comfortable and happy.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

I think this actually affects negatively.  Sometimes it’s impossible to finish even 3 tasks in one day. My solution is to drive a motorcycle.  I recommend it to anyone who complains about it.

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

My favorite thing about the Asian side is the place I live. I’m very close to the European side, but I’m on the Asian side. Also, all my family and loved ones are here! This makes the Asian side special to me.

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

Istanbul is a perfect combination of the past and the future. On the same day, you can witness the texture and history of the city in Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Galata, and then experience a completely different Istanbul in Nişantaşı, Caddebostan, Maslak. It’s a city full of surprises, amazing to experience as a tourist, but also amazing to be a resident despite all its hardships.

Sude Belkıs & Yasin Arıbuğa

When I get out of the house, I feel like I am at a movie set.  So much is happening everywhere, at the same time, independent from each other.  And this unavoidably educates me. — Yasin

I feel like I know every sidewalk, every street. – Sude

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

Sude: The European side is work; the Asian side is home.

 Yasin: The European side represents chaos for me.  I like chaos, but sometimes you need calm.  That’s why I prefer to live in the stillness of the Asian side. 

What does home mean to you?

Sude: A bordered space where you can be free. But that border is not my obstacle, it’s my security.

Yasin: The concrete limb of man. 

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

Sude: This chaos is exactly what I enjoy.  Every time I walk out the door, a game starts.

I live and produce.

Yasin: When I get out of the house, I feel like I am at a movie set.  So much is happening everywhere, at the same time, independent from each other.  And this unavoidably educates me.

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

Sude: I feel like I know every sidewalk, every street.

Yasin: For some reason, I feel more comfortable on the Asian side. Maybe it’s because of the people. That feeling of comfort on the Asian side is my favorite thing.

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

Sude: A place where everything opposite to each other exists side by side.

Yasin: At first, everything feels the same, and then it starts to feel different.

Rümeysa Yağcı

It is a crowded and fast city that brings together people with different opinions. To keep up with the speed of the city, to be on time, you may have to increase your speed. – Rümeysa

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

The most important difference is tranquility.  Of course, I don’t know how that can apply to Istanbul in general.  European side; a.k.a. old Istanbul and streets full of history. Although it attracts a lot of tourists to its history, it makes it so difficult for me to live there. 

What does home mean to you?

Home is peace for me, I’d say it’s where I find peace.  Calmness has a very important place in my life. And I need a quiet, peaceful place to clear my head. So, when I think of a home, the place that comes to mind is where I can find this peace.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

Although I talk about how much I don’t like crowds, the fact that Istanbul has a way of bringing different people together is my favorite feature. Because I like to know different countries, different cultures, it increases my creativity. 

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

My favorite feature of the Asian side is that it can easily provide you with all kinds of opportunities, and it is not so crowded in doing so. 

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

It is a crowded and fast city that brings together people with different opinions. To keep up with the speed of the city, to be on time, you may have to increase your speed.

Sude Alkış

It’s exhausting sometimes, but it’s a city that gives you a lot of opportunities to find yourself. – Sude

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

For me, the feature that distinguishes the Asian side is that it looks like Izmir… it feels more calm, livable, and comfortable.

What does home mean to you?

My comfort zone. A place where I feel peaceful and safe alone, away from everybody.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

Although living here can sometimes seem complicated and exhausting, I think it betters everything I produce.

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

Almost all my close friends and family live here. All my routines and my life are on the Asian side. I like its peaceful vibe.

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

It’s exhausting sometimes, but it’s a city that gives you a lot of opportunities to find yourself. – Sude

Ilayda Akdoğan

The calmness of the Asian side is an element that I look for in my own home. – Ilayda

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

I’d say having the luxury of being able to be involved in chaos whenever I want. The calmness of the Asian side is an element that I look for in my own home. But as someone who loves Istanbul and its chaos, making it a choice has given me great comfort.

What does home mean to you?

It’s where I feel the safest and most like myself.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

Because constantly rushing somewhere always requires math, it feeds my practicality a lot in everyday life. I’m not a static person, and I get tired of being static.  So, the dynamic of the city, the fact that I have so much to get inspired with, improves my creativity. So, I get more space to be educated.  

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

I have to say, especially based on my neighborhood, I love the seaside culture. I’m an epicure person and going to the seaside and having fun is just my cup of tea.  It’s like I have a lot of neighbors with whom I share the same taste.

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

They call it chaos; we call it home!

Sina Özer

The cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul promises a way of living that keeps you alert all the time.  Both positively and negatively, actually.

The city makes you have to be careful all the time, but it also offers to have fun and enjoy the moment. -Sina

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

The fact that it’s a little further away from the chaos, I think.  I guess the Asian side used to be the countryside.  There’s a sense of peace that comes from it.

What does home mean to you?

Home means a safe zone for me. But you have to use it balanced. Even a house should be used in moderation.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

The cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul promises a way of living that keeps you alert all the time.  Both positively and negatively, actually. The city makes you have to be careful all the time, but it also offers to have fun and enjoy the moment. Where there’s so much chaos, there’s a lot of observation. So, it’s very obvious that it inspires production.

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

On the Asian side, people seem a little farther from the rush of metropolitan life.  So, it’s more peaceful. The peace it brings is the best part.

How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

A city where you think it’s a place where there is an equal opportunity but then realize it’s more expensive and you actually experience the opposite. But it’s so beautiful that all that negativity vanishes with one look at the Bosphorous.

Aslı Bekiroğlu

It’s a tiring city, and I want to let them know that in the first place. For an outsider, it may be the most fun city to ‘visit’, but to live here, you must think twice.  – Aslı

What distinguishes the Asian side from the European side?

The Asian side is more comfortable, more pleasant, more peaceful, like a holiday. I feel like the European side is more like a huge and crowded office building.  Everywhere is like an office!

What does home mean to you?

Peace.

How does the cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul affect the way of life and production?

This depends entirely on the character.  For someone who loves competition and ambition, this chaotic environment can create a great space for a productive life. But for people who are more emotional and live in the moment, it can be quite challenging. Because there are so many external factors around, so, you tend to doubt your personal productions.

Your favorite thing about the Asian side?

Caddebostan.  As an indispensable part of me.

 How can you describe Istanbul to someone who has never been to?

The first word that comes to mind is CHAOS. It’s a tiring city, and I want to let them know that in the first place. For an outsider, it may be the most fun city to ‘visit’, but to live here, you must think twice. 

Creative Direction & Interview: Duygu Bengi
Photography: Barbaros Cangürgel
Styling: Aras Kılıç
Styling Assistants: Eylül Yekenkülüğ, İzel Işık
Film: Melike Müge Şahin
Film Assistant: Zafer Aras
MUA: Aslı Bilge
Hair: Mertcan Pekgüzel