Derya Adiyaman, History of Design, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2014 – 2016
Derya grew up in the town of Izmir, where she developed a strong interest in applied arts. She has worked in product and curatorial design at Istanbul Design Week, TetraPak and Vestel Electronics in different capacities, as well as at Marquis Projects as an assistant curator to Tom Keogh, alongside Aoife Collins on “Mirabilia”. She has also volunteered for “Delicious Garden”, an ecological design project (part of the Port Izmir Permaculture Project), where she worked alongside Carmen Bouyer to create self-sustaining structures.
In Conversation with Derya
Q: Your research on a spectacle case now forms part of the Victoria and Albert Museum archive itself. Tell us more about this.
A: For our first term essay, I selected a 19th century papier-mâché spectacle case that has been stored at the Blythe House archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum to research on. The case had no known maker, and “uncertain” production years. Using the national archives in London and Birmingham (where papier-mâché industry had its golden age) and comparing the trade catalogues and records from local companies, as well as the decoration techniques, I came up with ideas on the origins of the case. Contributing to the Victoria and Albert Museum archives has been an incredibly rewarding and motivating experience. For my second research project, I studied design changes in instant photography with a particular focus on the history of Polaroid cameras. This research forms the foundation for my dissertation on contemporary design subjects.
Q: As a specialist in Modern and Contemporary History of Design, tell us how you intend to apply your experiences and expertise in contributing to Izmir’s growth?
A: The skills and experiences we obtain in this course provides various career options in academia, journalism, design and architecture, museum and curatorial practices. My hometown Izmir is the third biggest city in Turkey and is in the process of developing its own identity in a social, academic and cultural context. Architecture, industrial design, city and regional planning play an important role in the growth of the city. With my knowledge of design history, coupled with curatorial practice, I look forward to contributing by using “design” as an element of growth.
Q: How instrumental has the diversity and community experience contributed to your growth?
A: I think one of the most important advantages of studying at the RCA as an Abraaj Innovation scholar is that you start off with a family of fellow scholars from diverse backgrounds. This support has inspired and increased my capability to think outside the box. Additionally, belonging to a diverse and unique community such as the RCA has broadened my horizons from a cultural and academic perspective.