In Conversation: Cihannüma Art Workshop

We met with Öznur Özden, the founder of Cihannüma Art Workshop, who designs custom products for OMM Shop, at her workshop in Eskişehir.

Öznur Özden is the first producer in Eskişehir to receive entrepreneurial support for women. She produces custom ceramics for various institutions and projects, including OMM Shop, in her workshop opened in Odunpazarı 15 years ago. We visited Cihannüma Art Workshop, located close to OMM, and talked to the designer about her initiatives, plans, and dreams.

Can you tell us about the story of the Cihannüma Art Workshop?

After graduating from the ceramics department, I worked in the private sector for many years, but I always dreamed of working with soil and doing my own business. When I was a child, I thought I would be a farmer because I had no knowledge of ceramics. Then I met ceramics at university. I found Odunpazarı in Eskişehir, which was very quiet then, and rented my current building to open my workshop and work more freely. I did all the renovations by myself; I set up my workshop in about three years. During this period, I lost 11 kg. I did not have money to buy a furnace. I made polyester magnets for municipalities. Polyester is a very toxic substance; I did not know much then. I often went to the emergency room for serum. Of course, this period was short-lived; after KOSGEB's support was approved, I bought my furnace, dropped everything else, and turned to ceramics. Then, as time passed and Odunpazarı developed, my workshop also developed.

What kind of design and production process do you have? As a manufacturer that works in different fields, what do you pay particular attention to in your designs?

First, I have a short conversation with the person requesting the product to get to know them and understand what they want. Then I combine these requests with my style. This is also how I work in my architectural works; after researching the special interests and demands of the other party, I offer them a few designs, and we make the final decision together. I take inspiration from them because my works are very long-term productions. They will stay in people's homes or spaces for years; people should be happy each time they see them. For example, I sometimes depict a family or paint a memory of family members in my tailor-made works. When they see it, both they and I are happy.

What about your inspirations? How would you describe the style or aesthetic of your designs?

I used to work traditionally. I love the Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire, but I don't have such a definite and distinct style at the moment.

For instance, new windows opened up in my life after I started working with OMM. I used to use colors sparingly, and now, I rediscovered them. I believe that I am in a transitional period right now; my world is so colorful that I do not know precisely where to place these colors in my practice, to be honest. It will evolve and complete over time. Odunpazarı is already a historical place, and I always talk to people about the ancients and history. Naturally, my areas of interest have been shaped around history. I can say that I developed a more modern perspective with OMM.

As the first producer in Eskişehir to receive entrepreneurial support for women, do you have any suggestions for new or aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don't be afraid, be brave. Do not say "what if" and take action without wasting any time. There is nothing to fear. Somehow the water is flowing, finding its way. You have to take that step. There is no need to be afraid of anything, neither material nor spiritual. There will always be challenges; I still face many every day. These challenges will never end. Instead of "I wonder if it'll happen," say "This will happen" and take action.

What can you say about your future projects? What are your expectations, plans, and dreams for the future?

I have many projects in front of me right now. I once went to an aquarium in Marseille and was so impressed by the fish patterns there that I wished to make plates in Michelin-starred restaurants. I'm making plates for many prestigious restaurants right now. I have fulfilled that part of my dreams, and I have many more projects ahead of me in this field. I also carry out many municipal works, and we organize festivals together. Such projects are essential for the survival of the workshop. That's why even though I work on a wide variety of projects with a busy schedule, I enjoy doing most of my work.Of course, I have many dreams about the future. I attempted to open a branch in Paris before, and we had many meetings. We were close, but Paris was very chaotic, so we stopped the project. Overseas is one of my plans. On the other hand, I want to open my own exhibitions and move them to different places. Spiritually and artistically, I want to find my line and my way, draw a path by combining the past with the new.

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