Eye-Dentify Yourself

Part social hub and part eyewear retail store, the new Eye-D multipurpose venue and retail concept in Istanbul aims to offer a distinctive, fashionable and funky alternative in a “Ray-Ban-free” shopping space.

By Mark Faithfull

In essence, the idea behind the new Eye-D retail concept is that it simultaneously serves as an art gallery, coffee shop, music venue and bookstore—along with selling spectacles and sunglasses. Most importantly, perhaps, is that it was developed as a human experience-based space—a place to not only shop, but to involve visitors in other experiences.

Istanbul-based interior design practice Ofist was tasked with reimagining eyewear retail for the launch of this new independent and multipurpose venue and retail concept from eyewear specialist Turkuaz Optik. Located in Karakoy—a busy, traditionally commercial area of Istanbul that is now transforming into an art, retail and amusement hub—the building spans multiple floors, with the upper stories also belonging to the company as offices, fulfilling its main business, the distribution of optics and optical wear.

At its heart, the Eye-D proposition is: “Why wear a mass brand, when you can purchase alternative, independent designer glasses?” Creating what it describes as a “Ray-Ban-free” shopping space (it also has this written by the entrance, should visitors be in any doubt), the design solution from Ofist was conceived to be “extraordinary, alternative, eye-catching, funky, distinctive, never outdated yet fashionable,” allowing different experiences each time for users visiting the store.

Ofist’s approach for this ambitious and wide-ranging remit has been to create a cozy, interactive, relaxed environment in the middle of a chaotic city. It is a space designed to be adapted to these different purposes easily, while developing a dialogue with its users.

“We think the strongest instrument of achieving this is the extraordinary use of simple and familiar materials and ideas,” says Yasemin Arpac, principal of Ofist, of the practice’s approach.

To achieve this, the entrance is framed with intricate metalwork, protruding from the inconspicuous façade and providing a distinctive entranceway. This leads to a single-floor retail and social outlet, visually dominated by 550 cork yoga blocks suspended from the ceiling, intended to “inject levity” into the 1,130-sq.-ft. interior. Nearly 100 of these blocks have also been fitted with light sources, while a 13-ft.-long plywood table, laminated with cork, is suspended from the ceiling and accented by matching cork stools.

Functional LED lighting placed on perimeter shelving illuminates the items on display, and serves as a distinctly low-key element of the overall design. The entrance’s iron frames have slits facing the walls, with LED lighting along each, which can alternate colors. The general ambient lighting is achieved via the custom-designed cork yoga blocks with LED spotlights hung freewheeling from the ceiling.

“When we are in an exhibition, a bookstore or a shopping mall, there’s always some kind of experience, but usually, because of the life in these metropolises itself or the scale of these environments, the experience is somehow out of human proportion. It is not easy to relate oneself to, or to develop an affinity,” Arpac notes.

In terms of the eyewear shop itself, Ofist says the design approach recognizes that this concept has also changed over recent years. What used to be a technical, even scientific
approach to eyewear has now become fashion-focused. Wearing spectacles or sunglasses used to be a technical need, and to fulfill this purpose shops were designed hygienically, as if designing a healthcare space.

For Eye-D, Ofist came up with a few simple design ideas and shaped the whole space within that framework. One of these ideas was to form an iron framework and panels that create a multipurpose background, allowing easy arrangements and rearrangements for different needs, like showcasing glasses, as well as works of art.

The other idea was to assign a light, familiar, friendly element, something simple in form and size, and generate a space using it all around. So a long table and stools sit at the center of the space, with quirky elements helping provide a distinct and somewhat irreverent interior feel.

Eye-D opened in October, launching with Koray Erkaya’s exhibition “TooLess” taking place within the store. The company has deliberately not marketed the new environment, preferring instead to develop a strong, settled image and to create awareness through word of mouth as it experiments with the format.


project file

Karakoy, Istanbul

Turkuaz Optik


Custom design by Ofist

SFS floor

Day Studio


Tayfur Somer

Aksu Dekorasyon

Sen Metal

Gedik Cam

Ceysa Elektrik


Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.

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