When I arrive at the door of the four-story detached house, I know I am about to uncover a chest full of precious memories.

Walking in Francesco Della Suda…
Antique is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Çukurcuma, one of the most historical and artistic districts in İstanbul. I am walking on Faik Paşa, one of the most well-known inclined streets of Çukurcuma, from the nineteenth century. The history behind the street is a noble one, you can even smell the antiquity as you walk along. The street takes its name from the Italian origin Ottoman pharmacist Francesco Dello Suda. He was honored with the title “pasha” due to his assistance for the Ottoman army during the Crimean War.

Erkal Aksoy recognized the potential in Çukurcuma, twenty-three years ago and opened A la Turca house in Faik Paşa street. He remarks that there have only been a few stores, at that time, which is full of splendid antique shops today.

We go up in the sitting room on the upper floor and begin our conversation after the warm welcome of Erkal Aksoy and the atmosphere of Alaturcahouse, familiar with guests more than anything else. Silver sets, service plates and porcelain cups indicate hints for Erkal Aksoy’s fine appreciation of beauty that’s highly expressed in the gallery. “I fell in love with this place when I first saw it. The building was ruined, it took us one and a half year to renovate.” The ceiling was opened upon his request in the sitting area. “I lost some space because of that, but I think it added a different dimension to the atmosphere.”

Various types of fine objects on the tables, objects made of different materials from different time periods and the lightnings welcome you as you enter the historical house. The old pieces, most of which are original designs, are in company with the new furniture and art works that belongs to the collector. The basement floor is like an ethnic oasis with its empty walls and dim light.

The room on the right on a lower floor is saved for the Anatolian jars and ceramics of Erkal Aksoy. The texture of the place is in so much harmony with the objects that you feel as if they have always been there. On the left is seen the majestic view of the copper bowls, through the quiet door of the hidden garden. The mirror was the first piece Erkal Aksoy bought for Alaturcahouse.

The fireplaces he brought from London have been with him since the beginning. Yet the leading role belongs to the rugs placed attentively in the shelves at the entrance. Rich in color, they sit in the shelves with a manner of wallpaper. Erkal Aksoy’s collection of antique balls, which he had collected from auctions and trips as well as the oil sultan portrait paintings are also worthy of mention.

“I am not an antique dealer.”
It all began with Aksoy’s passion for the old and textile. His interest in carpets, old rugs, fabrics and fabric patterns has added a different dimension to this passion. He still says that he is not an antique dealer when asked. “No, I am not an antique dealer, there are many antique dealers here though. It has always been my greatest dream to see Çukurcuma full of qualified connoisseurs of antiques. “This is a rug gallery.”

His starting point has been rugs and textile, he says he can distinguish a good carpet by its rubia tinctorum, hand wool and hand work. As seen in the name of the gallery, it is in Turkish style, Alaturcahouse.

The homy feeling of Alaturcahouse makes both his friends and guests who seek to be inspired feel comfortable. He hosted many well-known people in his gallery. He had been a representative for “Halı Magazine”, which is a subsidiary company of Sotheby’s for ten years. And he used to procure rugs and carpets for Ralph Lauren.

The chair I sit on is a new arrival, bought from Horhor. When I tell him that it feels very comfortable and looks very good on its spot, he tells me that he selects and buys every piece only because he loves them. “None of the pieces you see here was bought for the customers, they were all bought because I liked them.”

The art of weaving and painting are what inspire him most. “I am really inspired by traveling. I don’t even need to go far. I love Eminönü, Grand Bazaar and the back streets of Spice Bazaar. For me, İstanbul is the synthesis of the west and the east.”

“You can’t make the new without knowing the past.”
“This is true for everything else as well.” says Erkal Aksoy. “You need to learn about the past. A painter tends to imitate in the beginning. He should study and maybe practice drawing the original works before finding his own self in his art. Only then he can create his own method and style. I am only reminded of other designs when I see the works of many of the designers today, but it is different when the artist or designer adds something of himself to it.

He shows us the little pouches he designed using rug and leather. He complains that he sometimes can’t find what he seeks for. That’s why he had to use and stylize the fifteenth century Ottoman, İznik and Seljuk motifs for the ceramic plates he has designed.

When we begin to talk how artistic an Eileen Gray design could be, he says “It seems to have been designed just yesterday even though it belongs to a previous era. I think what makes a furniture or object valuable is its timelessness and uniqueness. It is a work that achieved to enter the world literature.”

The World is a Museum
“We derive inspiration from something either physical or abstract while we are creating something. We all have different sources of inspiration. I might see a four-legged chair and create something totally different out of it. For me, the world is a grand museum. We go around and see it… And the more we see, the more we are impressed. We create our own interpretation. Everyone creates as he adds something from his own unique spirit.”

The collector doesn’t deny his passion for the old, he admits that he waits for his new clothes to grow a bit older before he wears them. “I can’t wear anything I have just bought. But the gallery has both old and new pieces.” Erkal Aksoy loves contrast as well. While showing the works of Haluk Akakçe he says; “Many of the artworks are new. I buy special furniture and paintings.” The balance between the old and new enhances the energy in the eclectic gallery and the outweighing texture of the past leads us to a little art tour into the Ottoman history.