How has your creative process changed over time?
My background is in industrial design, which has a more formulaic (compared to fine arts) creative process that relies on research and iterative prototyping. I still use the same design process, but I would say that it's less regimented now that I make more fine-art objects. I can say that my process has become more intuitive.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?
I’m a huge John Waters fan and I keep most of his aphorisms close to my heart. In 2015 he gave a speech at the RISD commencement ceremony and his last remarks were “Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully. Design clothes so hideous that they can’t be worn ironically. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. Make me nervous!” My work is not as subversive but still it is the most liberating advice any young and nervous artist can ask for.
Born and raised in Istanbul, Mercan Denizci is an industrial designer based in Brooklyn. While finishing up her degree at the Rhode Island School of Design she discovered that she has a passion for furniture design and moved to NY in pursuit of the creative community there. Currently, she works at a bespoke furniture studio and continues her personal projects that mediate between craft and technology at her home studio.
Who are some artists that you feel have impacted your own practice?
This is a very very hard question, there are so many. But if I were to pick one, it would be Zeki Müren (1931-1996). Müren is a renowned Turkish singer, composer, poet, actor, costume and textiles designer. He was called the “Art Sun”, and was known for his ornate costumes and effeminate style. I am a great admirer of all of his work, but what fascinates me the most is how much he was loved, revered and accepted by everyone in a macho country like Turkey. He definitely paved the way for other openly gay or transsexual Turkish artists. He was a phenomenal artist, but I believe it was his refined character that defied all social stigmas. He taught me that how you work, and the person you are is as important as your work. He aspires me to be a versatile creator as he was.
What have been some of your biggest strengths and struggles during your career so far?
I have a very impatient personality, which is a horrible trait if you are a maker. Craft requires meticulous calculation and doesn’t tolerate rushing. When I first started wood and metalworking I would make so many dumb mistakes because of rushing and would have to start over and over again. It’s true that you learn from your mistakes, but it was definitely frustrating. The only good thing about my impatience is it makes me get things done in time because I simply can’t wait to see how they will turn out!
What's in your margins?
Experimenting is a huge part of my creative process. I am always looking for new materials, techniques, and I try to learn new programs in my free time. Whether or not it leads to a final product the process is intellectually stimulating and always provides inspiration for the next work.
Edited by Joshua Duttweiler
What project are you especially excited about right now?
I am very interested in objects that are found in folklore, religion, and mythologies. Right now I am working on a series, where I am re-imagining how some of these mythological objects would look and feel today.
“We tend to dehumanize machines, and objects produced by them but in the end, it’s all human genius and it’s fascinating to me.”
Your work focuses on experiences created by technology and craft, how do you see these elements fitting together so well?
As much as I am a furniture maker I also really enjoy creative coding and digital fabrication and they inevitably feed each other.
I believe handcrafts add intrinsic value to objects because every object that comes from the hands of a craftsperson have slight defaults or tool marks which makes them unique. I used to undervalue machine-made objects because supposedly they are all the same and they don’t have enough human hours invested in them. I realized that machine-made objects have tool marks and defects (usually from a glitch in the process) and I grew to appreciate those. After all, the machine that made that object was designed and built by a person, so are all the machines that made the parts of the machine that produced that particular object. We tend to dehumanize machines, and objects produced by them but in the end, It’s all human genius and it’s fascinating to me.
All the pieces I make have both hand-made and machine-made properties. I like to use machines for things I can't do by hand and handcrafts for things I can’t make with a machine, obviously... But I accentuate those, and they become the detail in my work.