Sometimes a word brings to mind an image that inhabits its meaning so perfectly, so innately and intrinsically, that it can be difficult to imagine that word as applying to anything else. One such word comes to mind when speaking of Detay Mobilya, an industrial furniture and design shop in the ‘antique shopping’ area of Çukurcuma. The word would simply be ‘craft,’ and it’s impossible to keep the thought of it at bay when gazing upon the impressive array of wood-based home products in their workshop or showroom.
Burak Karamukoğlu, owner and son of the store’s founder, is a stout and spritely man whose spirit surpasses his physique and whose hands match their trade; thick, gnarled, and worn. 50 years ago, his family took over the shop, which has been in operation for over 100 years, from the Armenian community, and have since poured generations of their trademark quality into it. While they mostly produce tables and decorative veneers for home decor, they offer no standardized products, and the word ‘limitation’ seemingly isn’t in their vocabulary.
Nothing one might find here has been duplicated, and each piece is unique to the wishes of the customer, whatever they might be. That’s the beauty of Detay (‘detail’) Mobilya: bring them an idea, and their skill will see it through to realization. They are masters of any type of wood, old or new, and often meld them firmly with glass, stone, and metal to create would be furniture centerpieces for any household. Indicative of their experience in that line of work, the store recently contributed to the interior design of a number of private homes in Alaçatı, a region near Izmir, Turkey.
Whether by coincidence or craft the workshop manages to maintain an eco-friendly process. The wood they sculpt, chisel, and form from comes to them in an unobtrusive manner: a trunk of a dead and fallen tree, a stately door of an Ottoman-era village home, the support beams of an aged house that was abandoned and demolished. Massive old beams that are often 3-4 meters tall and of a single piece of wood, line the workshop like the old trees they once were. The experience is visceral and personal – you can examine, touch, and smell the exact piece of wood your design will emerge from. Instead of allowing wood to a wasteful, fiery fate, Detay Mobilya snatches them up for reuse, and gorgeously so. There’s a reassurance of such quality material being a part of your home.
Burak possesses an enthusiasm for what he does, and quite truthfully, what he has always and only been doing doing and what one doesn’t come across in the everyday shopping experience. Since the age of three he has been in the workshop, learning, absorbing, and building. He’ll often go for days without rest while finishing a piece. Given his history, one can’t help but notice the contempt he holds for the ubiquitous presence of industry giants that have homogenized the furniture market. But his passion far exceeds any bitterness, as, for example, when he proudly displays a wooden dibek, a mortar base that would normally be constructed of stone, but has instead been whittled to rough perfection after being pulled from the deep core of a 125 year old tree. There couldn’t be a more fitting symbol to what this store represents: variety, immense talent, and attention to detail. It’s in the name, after all.