The Istanbul-Based Animate Objects Makes Statement Objects, With a Surrealist Touch

We often talk about objects that have a life of their own, that shape the space around them and affect the atmosphere and tone of a room. The limited-edition décor and collectible furniture from Animate Objects – an apt name – not only seem to live and breathe, like characters in a story, but they emote, they perform. Zeynep Satik, an Istanbul-based designer, launched Animate Objects a few months ago, with the idea of creating “theatrical environments.” Think statement pieces, with a Surrealist touch, that are as functional as they are distinctive and playfully attention-getting. Like the Epona chair, made of laser-cut iron and inspired by the horse costume created by Picasso for Jean Cocteau’s ballet Parade. Or the Exposé mirror, which features segments of Matisse-like figures in gold or smoked mirror glass. They create scenes that are continually unfolding. “I see my pieces as storytelling devices like film props. They do interact with each other in my scenario; however, their stories are subject to different interpretations. They can become new characters in someone else’s life scene. The world they inhabit and their varying positions can create a brand new story which I find very amusing as a designer.”

In part, Satik credits her immersion in different cultures for her creative outlook; she spent her childhood in Istanbul, attended an Italian high school, and then moved to London for her BA in Performance Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. After graduating in 2016, she moved back to Turkey and founded a multidisciplinary creative agency, pursuing set design and art direction for fashion week, TV talk shows, music videos, and editorial shoots, learning to balance her own creative impulses with the desires of her collaborators. “Establishing dialogues between space, color, and form has always been my passion but when designing a set you have a brief and you need to react clients’ needs.” Animate Objects builds on this experience while allowing Satik to explore her own vision and follow her own inspirations.

“Traveling and discovering new cultures are probably what inspire me the most, but a movie or a conversation can also inspire me. I also see fashion and costume design as great sources for my visual storytelling because, like furniture, they use colors, textures, layers, lines, and shapes to create an expression.” In particular, she’s drawn to the works of visual artists who designed for the stage – Picasso, Marc Chagall, David Hockney, and Natalia Gontcharova. For the Traveling Performers collection, Satik has reached back to the 16th century tradition of commedia dell’arte, in which troupes of actors performed popular theater often with exaggerated, stock characters like Pierrot (here, a solid oak side table with legs that recall the character’s long sleeves), Columbina (a burled walnut side table named for one of the leading female characters), and Pantalone (a side table with ballooning pants). There’s also the glossy, mint green Isabella side table, named for Isabella Andreini, the most acclaimed commedia dell’arte actor of her time.

Though Satik is really just getting started with Animate Objects, she aims to reach a larger, global audience while continuing to research and experiment with new materials. “I love how they contain endless possibilities,” she says. Different and more exclusive versions of some pieces are on the way, along with plans for a lighting collection — sure to be wonderfully referential but equally as expressive of their own personalities.