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Armaggan in Istanbul | Little Book of Wonders



Little Book of Wonders | January 2014 

Turkish Delight

Visit Istanbul's new Bosphorus suites and discover why master rug and textile maker, Armaggan, is Turkey's success story. By Laura Ivill

The Turkish rug - found in homes across the world, from the mass-produced, chemically coloured versions to the luxurious, antique, naturally dyed and care-worn possessions handed down the generations. Yet how many come authenticated with a label that details not only what it is made from, but what it is dyed with, the name of the artisan who made it and where they live?

Armaggan, the high-end Turkish brand, is one of those companies that sets out to go beyond the norm in terms of provenance, and suddenly finds it has a success on its hands. Set up in 2007 by Drs Yalcin and Serpil Ayasli (both eminent engineers working in Boston), this Turkish husband and wife partnership were so passionate about the traditions of their homeland and the skills of its artisans that they wanted to bring them to a wider public – to people in search of exclusive and handcrafted clothing, objets d’art, jewellery, homewares and leather goods.

As scientists, they first set up the means of production, establishing a natural-dye research centre and small-scale textile atelier on the Asian side of Istanbul. A jewellery workshop followed along with two stores, one near the city’s Grand Bazaar at Nuruosmaniye and the other in the upscale shopping district of Nisantasi. Weavers in towns and villages in rural Turkey are employed to create their rugs, widows of the 2011 earthquake among them.

The natural dyes, exact in every respect to those analysed from fabrics dating back to the 16th century come solely from plants and insects and will never fade in heat and sun. The handful of Armaggan weavers in the Istanbul atelier sit on 100-year-old looms working with gold and silver thread, creating just a few centimetres of fabric a day that will be used for the ultimate in upholstery or framed for their beauty.

Much of this craftsmanship is now displayed in a real-home Istanbul setting - VIPS and the well heeled can receive Armaggan hospitality at the company’s new Bosphorus Suites housed within three adjoining elegantly renovated yalis, or waterfront mansions, from 1863. And do ask about the rugs – your feet will be adding to the patina of some that are 150 years old.

Armaggan Bosphorus Suites, from 1,800 euros per double, including breakfast (

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