Studio Visit: Design House Thislexik

Shipping containers in Brooklyn play host to furniture made from upcycled clothing

A set of five primary-colored shipping containers rests in a unified pile along a corner of a bus parking lot, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Inside, Vedat Ulgen and his team envision the possibilities of industrial design and execute in a meticulous, imaginative fashion. He founded his design studio, Thislexik, back in 2014. Since, they’ve developed a furniture series, housewares and several stand-alone pieces—all of which are out of the ordinary. We visited Ulgen in his eco-friendly studio and found that the space itself offers plenty of insight into the brand he is trying to develop.

While the exterior of the 1,500-square-foot, open creative studio bursts with color, the inside is filled with many wonders of its own—many of which Ulgen oversaw. “This construction took me a year,” he shares with CH. “This is pretty much my conceptual design. I started it off, bought the containers and then met this very cool architect Deger Cengiz, and he came in and we started to do it together.” Minimizing environmental impact was very important to the process. “I found these containers second-hand. They were recycled. I got them right here in Red Hook,” Ulgen continues. “I leased the land, and as I grow as a company I want to invest in another location here and move these. They are bolted together, not welded. They are pretty much Legos for big people.”

“Everything here—other than the electricity—is eco-friendly,” he furthers. “We collect rain water and air conditioner condensation, and filter it. We have compressed dust pellet heaters for the winter.” The interior walls are built from reclaimed wood and there’s a rooftop garden which acts like a natural insulator. Even the bathroom minimizes waste—as Thislexik is not connected to the grid for anything except for power. Ulgen ultimately sees them being entirely independent in the future, and is working on that in his spare time. Organized within the space are tools—some familiar and others less so.

Ulgen was born and raised in Turkey, before heading to Pratt for a degree in industrial design. It’s only been two years since he graduated, but beyond his incredible space, he’s already manifested several impressive products. His latest series, a furniture line built from upcycled clothing, is truly unique, as are its origins. “My dad is a boat-builder,” he explains, “So I knew a little bit about fiber glass. When I was flying back to New York from Turkey, I was looking at my jeans at the same time I was thinking about designs for chairs.” The “Worn” series was born. “I come up with ideas from scientific backgrounds. I want to do things unique for the market. Clothing is more than a fabric, it’s a material. I asked myself, ‘Why don’t I use fabric instead of fiberglass to make furniture?'”

Ulgen started the process without the aid of fiberglass. He would form the fabric into usable sitting positions, and coat it all in resin—but it wasn’t structurally stable. He then began to infuse the fabric with fiberglass dust, and coat them in resin. The result is the line as we know it. He treats the surface as well in order shift the look from glossy back to matte, giving the illusion of real clothing as opposed to a resin sculpture. From the scraps, his team has made vases and planters. No two creations will ever look exactly the same.

“I went experimental. I went to the maximum. It was a fun process,” he says. “It’s something that supports you. This is clothing. It’s supposed to be soft, but in fact, it’s not—it’s furniture,” he concludes. He’s applied the technique to other creations, like dresses-turned-chairs. All of the clothing source materials were collected at thrift stores, true to brand form. The “Worn” series is only one small facet in Thislexik’s portfolio, but it’s definitely representative of what they’re capable of doing—and it seems like nothing can slow down their output.

Explore all of Thislexik’s available creations at their webstore.

Product images courtesy of Thislexik, other images by David Graver