Established with domestic capital in 1956, Istanbul Porcelain is a very important factory in Turkey in terms of its product range of Turkish goods and their emblem of “Made in Turkey” and for it has saved houses from unhealthy melamine cups and brought them together with porcelain. In this research, general information is given about the raw materials, product range, decor techniques, marketing strategies and innovative approaches of the Istanbul Porcelain factory. The research was conducted as a result of interviews with people who worked at different times and in different parts of the factory. Key Words: Porcelain, Factory, Istanbul, Product, Decor The porcelain industry in Turkey started to grow with the production of tiles and porcelain products through bringing the Western technique and influence into Beykoz and Yıldız factories in Istanbul during the 19th century. Having produced with a capacity of 300 tons per year when it was re-established in 1960, Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory was at the front row for the development of porcelain home furnishings industry. In the Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory, which seemed like a palace plant, both daily necessities such as plates, bowls, cups and ornaments such as vases were produced with the porcelain imported from abroad with all raw materials including clay, to meet the tile and porcelain needs of the palace and its surroundings . The factory was followed by the Istanbul Porcelain Industry in 1963, the Sumerbank Yarımca Ceramic Factory in 1968, the Alemdar Porcelain Factory and the Kütahya Porcelain Factory in 1970 and the Güral Porcelain Factory in 1989. Primarily presented the opportunity of purchasing with 10% more affordable prices when compared to imported goods along with its product quality which was a result of local raw materials equivalent to imported goods and approved by the Central Europe quality through the “Made in Turkey” emblem, İstanbul Porcelain Factory is a highly important factory for it has saved houses from unhealthy melamine cups and brought them together with porcelain.
The Istanbul Porcelain Factory was established in 1956 in a closed area of 56,000 sqm (28,000 sqm according to Can Apak) on 177 acres of land in the Tuzla district of Istanbul, near the Tuzla Station . The project of the factory was realized by Seyfi Arkan, one of the distinguished predecessors of the Turkish modern architecture during the Republican era in 1959-60, who was also known as “the architect of Atatürk”
“The machinery of the factory was brought from West Germany” . A small studio was set up outside the main building of the factory in order to educate the staff that holds the necessary equipments since there wasn’t any qualified staff to operate a large porcelain factory in Turkey during the 1950s. This studio provided practical training by Kurt Witte, the German Business Trainer, Emil Köhler, the German Mold Trainer and Mr. Süser, the Hungarian Raw Material and Prescription Trainer . It is known that Hakkı İzzet, one of the contemporary Turkish ceramics artists, also worked as a pattern consultant in the factory . Tahir Yalçın Çötelioğlu, the first MSc engineer of ceramics in Turkey who has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Department of Ceramics and trained in ceramic engineering in Germany, is an important figure who also worked for a long time in the İstanbul Porcelain factory.Having trained the working staff with German discipline, Istanbul Porcelain has initiated mass productions with a capacity (3200 tons / year) that leaves no room for imports and meets the domestic needs of Turkey in 1963. The fabulous range of products of the factory in which the most modern German machines are assembled back then, was involved high quality kitchenware and tableware, coffee, tea cups and saucers and decorative ornamental items . “Before 1966, sanitary materials, toilets and bathroom sets were tried to be produced as electro porcelain manufacturing but were not produced later”
“The factory had more than one style throughout its product designs. Most of these products were designed within the scope of demands or influenced by products coming from Germany” . They were also heavily influenced by French “Limoge” products . Decal (transfer) technique was mainly used for the decoration of the products. “The decal products were initially obtained from Ran Dekal Decal Industry Inc. of Istanbul. These were consisting of extremely lowquality patterns” . Some products also embodied brush and finger decors. “One of the most famous products of Istanbul Porcelain was the frilly, red and white spaced, persian tea saucers, which were made with a ‘finger decor’ technique, where the decorator spreads the paint on a flat glass, then colors the edges of the plates with their fingertips”
5]. Persian tea saucers were one of the standardized products of the factory such as the dried bean plates and they are still being produced by various companies today. Can Apak, one of the General Managers of the Istanbul Porcelain Factory, speaks of this product as follows: “The bottom diameter and the edge angle of the Persian tea saucer is standard. When you put a standard tea cup on those saucers, sugar you will put next to it won’t touch the base of the plate and therefore it won’t get wet. Now some companies have reduced edge angle and expanded the base of saucers, so sugars are getting wet.” The Istanbul Porcelain Factory was unable to recover from the initial setbacks and misfortunes. Because of the dispute between German and Hungarian experts working in the factory in 1964, the factory operations manager Kurt Witte leaving the factory and the fact that there were continuous imports of porcelain goods (German Bavarian) into the market during this period, the factory went through a huge crisis in 1966. In this crisis, the owner of the factory, Credit Bank of Turkey financed the losses and prevented bankruptcy but the bank later failed to bear this burden and went bankrupt itself . “Istanbul Porcelain had its glory days on the introduction of Kurt Witte again in 1966 as the factory manager and Recep Gencer as the General Manager in 1967”
In 1973, an Extra Quality Manufacturing Studio was established in order to carry out innovation studies at the factory under the leadership of Turgut Tuna, the Operations Manager. This studio has cre – ated an environment for many ceramic artists to carry out their studies with the Decor Chief of the factory, Mr. Oğuz and his Assistant Ayşe Denizmen being in the first place. Turgut Tuna, about the studio works they have realized with Füreya Koral in 1974, says: “We worked together for about 6 months. We worked on all the objective features that come to mind when we speak of R&D. Initially with forms… As you can see, these forms belonged to Mrs.Füreya in its entirety. Secondly, we tried to approach the material if they need transparency, colors and related implementations. Because it was very difficult to obtain a highly white product with the materials in Turkey. But these were what we managed to do back then.”
Although the 1970s were a period that Istanbul Porcelain has been developed in terms of renewal and development, the financial constraints concerning the factory were still partly ongoing. As a result of the handover of the majority of the shares of Istanbul Porcelain Factory which was established with domestic capital, workers have joined the Istanbul Porcelain Camiş Group following the strike in the end of 1978 and all the marketing and sales activities regarding porcelain products were handed to Paşabahçe Trade Co. Ltd, the company which was responsible for the sales of the tableware group of Şişecam Company
Upon the participation of Istanbul Porcelain in the Şişecam community, many innovations were made regarding raw materials, production line and marketing strategies. The most important one of these is the raw material studies which were carried out to increase the product quality. Because the domestic capacity of the quarries was not very large and the continuous changes in raw materials and especially the presence of iron in the kaolin affected the quality of the products . “By the end of 1981, raw materials (clay and kaolin) were brought from England. At that time, Kazim Çokay, who was serving as the general manager of the General Directorate but was originally a world-renowned ceramist, increased the efficiency of the factory when compared to previous periods, through developing a new recipe by mixing domestic and foreign raw materials” . After 1982, with the use of imported kaolin, meridians embodying the shape of the world were removed from the emblem of the factory and later in 1984, a small star was added up to the letter “i”. In the years that followed, this star was marked by the year of production of the products, through shifting one letter each year . Can Apak, one of the general managers of the Istanbul Porcelain Factory, talks about the product range and marketing strategies as follows: “The best quality products were called as ‘Mansion Series’. Having brought the transfer decors from abroad, ‘Mansion Series’ was a product that was sold individually therefore you had the chance to build your sets as you like. Another production of ours was the hotel and restaurant series. We were producing all the porcelain tableware that a restaurant would need. Until that day, companies were ordering and transferring the emblems for the restaurant plates. Owing to the simple, inexpensive and fast method that aimed at direct printing and was developed by our decor service technician, Uğur Şapçı, we dominated 70% of the hotel-restaurant market in Turkey in a very short time and at lower prices than other companies. We have also exported 18-20% of our sales to Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. “ Another part of the improvements regarding the factory was the machinery and equipment system which the factory has developed itself. “The improvement works carried out in 1983 were 1480 units per year. These were not consisting of great discoveries, but of small inventions that were added on top of each other “. Can Apak exemplifies these inventions as follows: “Decorated products must be dried and fired at 800° C. This process was done by filling products in special baskets and than putting them in a small tunnel kiln. Two people were working to fill the baskets during their shift and another person was working to empty them. Also, when the plates were stacked on top of each other, the dyes could get in contact with each other. Through our design and Feridun Özbay’s implementation, we made a kiln that had a rotating circular base. A single worker was able to place the products in the narrow opening of the kiln. When the base completes its motion and reaches to the same spot, the same worker was taking back the plate. While the tunnel kiln was producing results at the end of 6 hours, this kiln was doing the same thing in about 20-22 minutes. We didn’t face any infection problems and on top of it, we saved labor, energy and time.”
In 1989, the Chairman Remzi Ormancı, General Manager Can Apak, Design Consultant Önder Küçükerman and Technical Manager Kazım Çokay of the Istanbul Porcelain Factory, took place among the Founding Members of the General Assembly of Tüsev Foundation. With the tile ornamentation project of the Mosque of Grand National Assembly of Turkey being in the first place, the collection works of the foundation, were also carried out in the factory . Istanbul Porcelain, which gave a significant impetus to the Turkish porcelain home furnishings industry, was completely closed in August 1991 with a sudden decision and it was taken to liquidation by the last General Manager Necmi Sürel . Önder Küçükerman, about the closure of the factory, says: “Istanbul Porcelain Factory went bankrupt because it was too per fect.” Established as a public company and operated firmly for about 30 years, the Istanbul Porcelain Factory competed against the idea of “doing the best with what you have” and today, it is remembered as an academy by the staff who have succeeded in different business sectors in Turkey as a result of their experiences in this factory . After the factory shut down, kilns inside were not sold because they could not be transported. Therefore various materials and especially the molds were sold to a company known as İmge Trade in that period . Emerged from the ashes of Istanbul Porcelain, Imge Trade obtained molds over molds which the former factory has sold as “plaster scraps” and developed its first products. Today, this company is known as Porland Porcelain, one of the leading companies of the Turkish porcelain industry.