Member Blogs-Sylvie Atanasio
July 7th, 2015

Sylvie Atanasio, Head Designer and CEO of Studio S has traveled around the world to visit factories and build relationships. She is a long-time CTDA member and serves on the Board of Directors. Sylvie recently traveled to Turkey for the CTDA Trade Mission as well as China. Read about her travels below.


I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of the CTDA delegation that went to Istanbul to learn more about Turkey’s ceramic tile industry, as well as their culture. It was a learning experience not only about what advances the Turkish Ceramic industry has made in the last few years, but also how they see their roll in the future of ceramic tile. Turkey’s history of ceramic production reaches back thousands of years from the primitive sculpture of prehistoric Anatolia to the ornaments and crockery of the Hitites and the ornate hand-painted tiles of Iznik.
Below is a recount of my trip to Istanbul; I hope you enjoy the reading as much as Gigi and I enjoyed the trip.

The flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul was just over 15 hours or 5 long movies. We left Los Angeles on June 1st, but since we crossed the International Date Line we landed in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 2nd and that’s where our Turkish adventure begins:

Tuesday, June 2nd
My daughter and I arrived to Istanbul and after flying 15 hours, we were tired, smelly and just wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible. While we were rushing to get through immigration and customs we forgot to get a Visa, so after standing in line for an hour and a half, the immigration officer kicked us out of line and told us we had to get a Turkish visa first. So back to the visa desk, and after another hour and a half we finally got through the customs and we were off to hotel where the TurkishCeramics Commission was hosting a welcome reception for us on the rooftop of the hotel.

As we walked out onto rooftop, we encountered the most breathtaking view of the city and coastline, and also some familiar faces and we soon forgot about how tired we were. The reception was a great way to kick off the trip, it gave everyone an opportunity to connect with old friends and meet new CTDA members, and many of the Turkish Ceramic Commission members who were hosting the event. After the reception, an intimate group of us ventured off into the city for a traditional Turkish dinner.

Wednesday, June 3rd
After breakfast, we started off the day with an introduction to the TurkishCeramic Commission, followed by a mini tradeshow showcasing 17 different ceramic factories.
The TurkishCeramics was established in 1997 under the auspices of the Undersecretariat of the Ministry of Economy with the support of the Central Anatolian Exporters Union and the Turkish Ceramics Federation. The group’s main goal is to raise awareness of the quality of Turkish ceramics around the world.

The group undertakes many activities to communicate to a global audience, from participating in trade fairs to organizing design competitions, hosting exhibitions and trade missions. These events and activities are regularly published in some of the world’s most prestigious design magazines and journals.

Later that night, we all had the privilege of being able to experience a four hour dinner cruise on the Bosphorus /Sea of Marmara. It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying their time together, and of course the topic of the night was TILE. The night was filled with laughter and creating new friendships, and Just when you thought the night couldn’t have gotten any better, they brought out a belly dancer and that’s when the party got started, just ask Mark Carlson of Century Tile or Jack Knies of Tile America. The cruise ended around 11 o’clock and a few us finished the night off with a nightcap back at the hotel on the 15th floor overlooking the city.

Thursday, June 4th
Day three was quite an adventure. My daughter Gigi, Betty Sullivan of Architectural Ceramics and I got an early start to visit the Grand Bazaar and to do some shopping. It was great being able to walk around and converse with some of the Turkish people and try our hand at bargaining. We bought a lot of stuff whether we got a good deal or we will never know, I think we need to stick to negotiating tile and stones prices…. We rushed back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the group for a 5-hour tour of the city.

Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Europe and Asia, located between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara in northwestern Turkey. Istanbul was once the capital of three empires—Byzantium, Constantinople, and Ottoman and today Istanbul is one of the world’s most populous cities and ranks as world’s 5th-largest city. One of the many sites we visited was Topkapi Palace. Once home to many generations of sultans, the palace is filled with opulent gardens and courtyards, plush Turkish baths, and a secluded former harem, all overlooking the gorgeous Sea of Marmara. Afterwards, make you stop and enjoy lunch at the palace restaurant. Here are some other must see sites while in Istanbul:
• Aya Sofya
• Basilica Cistern
• Blue Mosque
• Grand Bazaar

After a full day of sightseeing we were on the move again… or not. The traffic in Istanbul is worse than being stuck on the 405 southbound in LA on any given day!

Once we arrived back at the hotel, we only had 30 minutes to freshen up for our black tie gala dinner at the Sultan’s summer palace. Of course, all of the women were frantically running upstairs trying to shower, do their makeup and squeeze into their cocktail dress all in less than 30 minutes. Needless to say everyone look like a million bucks! We arrived at Sultan’s summer palace, which was situated on the shoreline of the Borphorus. The view was spectacular in every direction. We enjoyed a 5 course dinner in a glass atrium ballroom looking out, over the Bosphorus, and for the evening we all felt like royalty as we ate, drank, and danced the night away. Thank you TurkishCeramics & CTDA for arranging this beautiful trip for us all.


Ni Hao from China,

Well, I never thought I would be celebrating the fourth of July in China. I have to tell you that nothing says “Happy Birthday America “ like a big bowl of fish heads and braised pork inners….

I am on the first leg of my China trip and I am currently at the Aria factory approving colors and pressuring the mold factory to finish the molds so we can start pressing the tiles to make the production samples for customer approval.

The good news is we have approved 23 of the 28 glazes for production, and while trying to match these colors, we have stumbled across some extra cool new colors. Don’t be surprised if we come up with a few new blends when it is all said and done.

The bad news is, we are only getting two glaze tests a day and there is a lot of down time between kiln firings. So I have been killing time by channeling my inner Andrew Zimmer, eating all sorts of weird things. I have packed on 5 pounds so far, and I am starting to look like a chubby Panda. The factory workers have re-named me “PONG”, Pong in Chinese means FAT.

The molds will not be done for another week. So, instead of sitting around and eating, I have decided to travel to the other factories to check on the production of the Perspectives, Ikat, Old Hollywood and 51 Shades of Grey, as well as conducting quality control inspections on containers that are about to leave.

I have included a few pictures from the factory and my food escapades.



Signing off for now,

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