The classic Istanbul tourism cliché of “the city spanning two continents,” becomes less applicable when you consider the fact that many Istanbul visitors never quite make it across the Bosphorus. Yes, the Anadolu tarafı, (Anatolian side) is more residential and permeated with a strong sense of community. But that is also what makes it the perfect hideaway from the attractive yet indifferent cosmopolitan chaos that defines much of the European side.
After getting off the ferry at the Kadıköy port, an invisible embrace called tranquility welcomes those who do not have the luxury of residing here. Walking up through the quiet streets, you might hear the voice of someone discussing Herman Hesse drifting out of an apartment’s open window and create daydreams that last just as long as your walk past each building.
By the time you reach Moda Caddesi, you begin to stop in front of window displays selling handcrafted bags, clothes, dolls, or jewelry, and if you happen to look a little closer, you will often see someone hunched under the burning spotlight of a lamp, working on their latest project. These workshops are the heart of Moda, where the young and intrepid have channeled their talents into small businesses.
Our first stop takes us to Zelazo, where a burst of color begins with a young designer’s cloud of orange hair and fills the two-floor space in the form of rainbow colored dresses, bags, accessories and more. The origin of these products is no mystery, with a sewing machine and different fabrics draped over the tables. Zelazo is not only a handicrafts shop but also a workshop space that provides the necessary materials for anyone to learn a new craft or improve their skills. A place for exchange and production, the collaborative spirit results in personal and collective exhibitions where individuals can sell their unique creations.
Kabine Nadire, is also both a store and a place for art workshops, and a part of the Halka Art Project, which develops art projects in a three floor historical building in Moda used as a working studio and exhibition space. Kabine Nadire describes itself as a “contemporary cabinet of curiosities,” where each artist/ designer brings their creations in a box or suitcase to be displayed and sold. Art objects, recycled and handmade goods, artist books, sketchbooks, and Kabine Nadire hand-sewn garments decorate the space, while workshops include the making of notebooks, leather bags, accessories, and much more, for children and adults alike.
One of our favorite ateliers in Moda is Bizon Studio where you will find different collections in the window display almost every time you walk past. Seçil Abdişler and Murat Gökçe Yılmaz have their workspace downstairs where molds and tools await their next round of inspiration. Currently, the display features glazed porcelain bowls in varying shades of incandescent blues, furniture made entirely of paper, and jewelry inspired by nature’s forms. Works from other artists are also present, including framed sketches and Müz terrariums. We recommend keeping an eye on Bizon, who also dabble in sculptures in both human and animal form.
If you have a passion for cooking, you probably also have a pronounced interest in kitchenware. Drop by Soy Türkiye in Moda to see a selection of professional-grade, durable and ergonomic copper kitchenware handmade in their Grand Bazaar atelier.
A rather peculiar space awaits you down a flight of stairs at Torna, which not only deals with independent publishing but also hosts international artists to create and exhibit their work. Three rooms with a rather industrial and bare feel are used as offices, an artists’ work space, and owner Merve Kaptan’s letter press printing studio and book shop where one of a kind English publications are for sale. The space is also home to Folio Magazine, an independent art publication, which aims to present itself as an exhibition space on paper. Come by to have a chat with Merve, to see the latest exhibition in a non-white cube gallery space, and to browse through the books and magazines.
If fashion is your thing, then Monochrom is an essential stop in Moda, where another atelier upstairs produces unique garments. Esra Kurtçu, a 2013 graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, combines unusual yet affordable fabrics with minimalistic garment cuts to produce an interesting variety of very wearable fashion. Even though the sizes run a little small, the fact that the workshop is right upstairs means that alterations can be made by request. Beautiful flower print dresses, crop tops, and short skirts, as well as eveningwear hang on racks awaiting perusal. Esra is always there to help you decide, while you admire your reflection in the mirror.
WHILE YOU'RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Situated on a charming street, and in an even more charming building, is Pappa Café. Head to this delightful little spot to kick back with some delicious food, listen to good music, and sip on a glass of refreshing limonella, their take on a lemonade. Caferağa Mahallesi, Ruen A¤a Soka¤ı No.18/A, Moda; T: (0216) 338 8050
Let the smell of freshly baked bread and mouthwatering pizzas hit you as you walk through the doors of Pinsa Moda. Expect to find pizzas with creative and classic toppings of everything under the sun.
Moda’s famous Çikolata Dükkan is a neighborhood classic. The shop windows are a chocolate-lovers dream featuring everything from bite- sized truffles to orange flavored chocolate with pistachios, and beyond. Caferağa Mahallesi, Yeni Fikir Sokak No.1, Moda; T: (0216) 345 05 26
Small and truly relaxing, Yer Café offers visitors a quiet haven decked out with salmon pink chairs and drawings by local artists on the walls. Enjoy a hearty breakfast, light lunch, or even a coffee or cocktail at this perfect little café.
If you ask most people in Turkey where to find the best pancake and crêpe, they will most certainly say Muchies Crepe and Pancake. This place presented the culture of pancake and French crêpes for the first time in Turkey. The menu offers pancake plate with all handmade sauces, pan burgers and French crêpes both sweet and salted, handmade lemonade and hot/cold beverages. If you fancy a different experience, visit this place for a delicious and special Munchies pancake breakfast. Open daily, 09:00am-07:00pm; Monday closed. Caferağa Mah. Dr. Esat Işık Cad. No:62/A Moda/Kadıköy; P: (0216) 336 30 39
In keeping with the micro-roasting trend and in order to achieve the best tasting coffee around, Çekirdek’s key focus is on coffee beans. Stop by to enjoy a cup of coffee, and, with it, one of their delicious homemade desserts.
This cozy Italian bistro is the perfect place to get authentic dishes, with fresh ingredients at reasonable prices. Get ready to carbo-load on Semolina’s scrumptious fresh pasta dishes. Caferağa Mahallesi, Ressam Şeref Akdik Sokak No.7/A, Kadıköy; T: (0216) 330 86 06