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In Conversation with Ceren Arslan: Architectural Designer


OFFICE OF THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE

Currently working as a designer at Bureau Betak's New York office and continuing to develop her own art project and brand EXIT, we talked with architectural designer Ceren Arslan about her practice and EXIT.


Who is Ceren Arslan? Can you briefly tell us about yourself?

Hello, I'm Ceren Arslan. I am an architectural designer and artist. After completing my architectural education at Pratt Institute in 2018, I worked at SHoP Architects, KPF, and Kelly Wearstler. I am currently working as a designer at Bureau Betak's New York office and continue to develop my own art project and brand EXIT.


EXIT is a brand focusing on concept architecture, spatial design, and storytelling. It has exhibited at events such as Milan Design Week, Miami Music Week, NYCxDesign, and Coachella. It has been published by leading magazines and platforms such as Forbes, Design Wanted, Archdaily, and Architect's Newspaper. I am currently focusing on developing EXIT through different forms of expression and art directing for various brands from product designers such as Pietro Franceschini and the fashion industry. With my latest installation work, EXIT Room, I am taking the brand, including product design, from digital to physical reality.


How did you decide to follow a more experimental path after receiving a traditional architectural education? Can you explain this transition process between architecture and art?


After graduating, I had four years of architectural experience and enjoyed it very much. During this period, I worked on large-scale buildings such as a mixed office building in Brazil, the NYU Campus in Hong Kong, residences, and hotels. As exciting as it was to see design merging with reality, the project processes, the long-term gradualism of the industry, and the limitation of design by budget and traditionalism drew me in a direction where design was more at the forefront. I started to play with my own unique and unregulated design ideas, and as a result, EXIT came out. With this, I began to discover my design style and experience it in different mediums.



Can you tell us about your EXIT project? What inspired you to start this project?

EXIT is an art project and design brand that I started developing two years ago. Focusing on conceptual architecture, spatial design, and storytelling, I aim to create spaces beyond the ordinary. In each EXIT (I named each design idea exit), I endeavor to use familiar contexts in an unusual architectural language. By adopting the concept of escapism, I have created a collection of alternative space designs with a unique style, often neo-brutalist. Before EXIT, I also had series like Episodes and, before that Lines. Honestly, I found the current version of EXIT by letting my originality flow, by trial and error, and it continues to change shape. I continue to explore my style with the element of the unknown.


Can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating visualizations? Which programs and software do you use while creating your works?


I am a storyteller and a designer, and I believe every design starts with a story, so before I start designing, I focus on questions such as "What do I want to emphasize? What am I trying to convey with this visual?" After answering these questions, I prefer to use Rhino or Blender in 3D design and Enscape in the rendering phase. AI-generated designs have also entered the EXITs these days, so I have been spending a lot of time learning new tools lately.



What advice would you give to young designers and architects? What tips would you give those wanting to start a creative career?


My advice for young designers and architects is to follow their passion no matter what. When you find an inspiration that motivates you and fuels your creativity, keep pursuing it. Also, be open to continuous learning and explore different disciplines. See your mistakes as learning opportunities, and don't give up because what you love to do will be successful in the end.


Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your work?

For me, inspiration is everywhere I look. I am fascinated by beauty, rhythm, sound, and anything related to visual pleasure. In my designs, I am inspired by anything I have experienced or historical episodes. When I open the design program, I think I am sitting in front of a blank canvas and let my imagination guide me. A few exhibitions I have seen recently, such as Refik Anadol's designs at MoMA, Basquiat's exhibition in Los Angeles, Monet's exhibition at Tate, and Battle of Versailles at the Met, are among the events that excite and inspire me. I don't have a special interest in a particular field, artist, or style, but I love discovering the stories of artists and their designs. And as a footnote, Alexander Wang's exhibition at the Cloisters made me decide to do what I am doing now.



Are you excited about the future? What are your plans?


Although EXIT is only two years old, it has achieved many successes, inspiring me to take it to the next level. I recently launched the EXIT Room concept for the second time, the first as a VIP Room with an after-party sponsored by LVMH as part of New York Fashion Week, and the second as a Dalmatian Room in collaboration with Tuleste Factory as part of NYC x Design 2023. I am currently interested in product development with brands and designers. I work with artists from many disciplines, such as product design and fashion, and it excites me to search for growth and detail in different fields constantly. It is among my close plans to continue this.



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