Meet the London-based design duo, Studio Ayaskan exploring the relationship between time, nature and emotion, in a quest to consider how we perceive time from person to person.
We talk about time and we refer to it’s speed: the day dragged on, that hour flew by, time goes by when you’re having fun. We reference its pace, but we often overlook how the hands travel around the dial in perpetual motion.
Meet Studio Ayaskan, the research-driven duo, founded by twin sisters Begum and Bike Ayaskan. Enchanted by the poeticism of time, the pair contemplate the relationship between nature, objects, and spaces, exploring how they interact with one another. Blurring the boundaries between disciplines, Studio Ayaskan root their designs in extensive theory, all the while offering modernistic portrayals on how we perceive time.
At the heart of their efforts, they aim to broaden the scope of how time passes, using liquid mediums that promote, grappling between themes of control and spontaneity. Catching up with the sisters, editor-in-chief Scarlett Baker uncovers the evolution of the studio and the seismic shift in how we govern time as human beings has altered dramatically over the past year.
The Next Hour: Wow, the sky is so blue behind you! Hi Begum and Bike. It’s so great to see you both. Where are you right now?
Studio Ayaskan: London! Today it finally looks nice.
TNH: I’m glad we finally got round to chatting. You’ve both been so busy, and I hope you’ve had a well deserved break throughout the summer. So let’s get things started shall we? Studio Ayaskan is the brainchild of the both of you, and you determine your work as a space to ‘explore and blur the boundaries between disciplines.’ When did this all get started? Was design something you were both fascinated by?
SA: We were born in Istanbul and moved to the UK for University. We first studied Architecture at the University of Nottingham and then went on to study a Master’s in Design Product at the Royal College of Art – both together! From there, we went into a more collectible type of design. We’re twins and have always wanted to work together and move in that direction. Although we didn’t think we’d be designing objects! After studying at Nottingham, we took a year out. We both love the study of architecture but not the practice of it, so we worked with Moritz Waldemeyer who was doing innovative art and design installations, so for us it was a transition from spatial design.
TNH: What made you pursue the route into architecture for higher education then?
SA: In high school, we used to paint a lot and had exhibitions. When we were kids, we did it subconsciously as child’s play, but it shaped us in the direction we’re in now. We were also really interested in science so we wanted to merge it together.
TNH: So when you graduated from the RCA and launched Studio Ayaskan later that year in 2015, was the goal after graduating always to launch your own studio?
SA: It was more organic. We didn’t have the exact idea, but after our graduation show, some of our projects got picked up very quickly, especially on social media. We hadn’t considered working for someone else at that stage; we focused on doing a lot of research and playing around with a lot of material. Through our reading, it all really came together. During our MA, we had a tutor called Yuri Suzuki who is a sound artist who introduced us to synthesizers and the electronic side of things which helped us move in another direction.
TNH: It’s fascinating that you choose to focus on the notion of time. I read somewhere that you create these objects that not only reflect time, but to also distort or adjust with the passing of time. How far would you say the movement of time is essential to your vision at Studio Ayaskan?
SA: I think we’ve always been interested in the concept of time. The concept of time being more fluid in quantum physics is a concept that defines how people used to live. It’s fascinating because it is what binds us together, despite everyone’s different perceptions of time. One person can feel 40 minutes a lot longer or shorter than someone else. There’s also the feeling of being in a meditative state and not realising time is passing.
Mechanical time has always fascinated us, but I don’t own a watch because I don’t like carrying time on me. It’s amazing how they have changed the way people live, because the more accurate the technology, the more change in behavior as well.
TNH: Let’s talk about two projects you released. ‘Sand’ inspired by the landscape art of a Japanese Zen rock garden, shows the gradual formation and flattening of a ripple pattern over a period of twelve hour cycles, while ‘Trace’ is referred to as a rather unconventional ‘timepiece’ that visualises the passage of time by leaving a trail of colour as time passes. light sensitive liquid solution that gets activated by UV lasers to leave a trace of colour behind it. Where did the idea for these sculptures come from?
SA: At the beginning of these two projects we wanted to avoid using a solid thing, using more liquid mediums where you can see time but watch the pattern change slightly through each cycle. It mimics the cycle that you would feel in nature. In our studio, we look at the idea of controlled spontaneity, where movements are not accurate in their sense of giving the time, but accurate in the technology used to create it. It’s more a reflection on how we perceive life. And maybe the time perhaps in a linear sense in the Western culture, but the way we experience it is very different and we wanted to capture that. With ‘Trace,’ because it’s a liquid medium, it changes color with light, it becomes a bit more apparent because it’s all dependent on the heat fluctuations but it starts trailing off into unique patterns. In our lives, we view these repetitive patterns both in our actions and in the seasons, so it was a representation of that.
TNH: How does the creative process work between the two of you when you’re navigating your ideas with two brains?
SA: We bounce off a lot of ideas between the two of us, and we’ve been doing that for a long time. We do our experimentation separately. Mostly, it’s the books we read on popular science, high tech, low tech design, or architecture, in any area to refer to environmental scale stuff. We read about things that incorporate nature and technology together more than anything else. Right now, we’re working on environmentally-scaled projects.
TNH: And finally, as communicators of time and its meaning, how would you describe your sense of time today?
SA: We’re getting impatient now that time is available to everyone. We almost expect things to happen in the exact moment we want to. We always talked about the concept of how time changes for people. For us, time is defined by moments of meaning. Particularly after the pandemic, it feels like people want to have more control of their time. Before the pandemic, I had a more linear approach but now we feel a bit more out of time. In the sense that we’ve relaxed on the idea of having to do something at a specific time and being less aware of the clock.