Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Karbosan, Oerlikon and Teka, Istanbul

This must be Istanbul's most photographed ghost sign as it appears pretty much on any picture taken from the Galata Bridge of the Galata Tower rising above the Golden Horn. Yet in spite of its prime location few people may notice it because there is so much around to distract one's attention.

Additionally the fact that the name of one of the companies advertised there is written sideways doesn't help.

Oerlikon [written sideways]

Founded in 1967, Karbosan is a Turkish manufacturer of abrasive products.
As for Oerlikon, it is a Swiss corporation whose origins go back to 1907, the year the Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon (Swiss Power Tool Factory Oerlikon) opened in Zürich-Oerlikon. In 1937 it was bought by German industrialist Emil Georg Bührle and its name became Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon-Bührle & Co (Power Tool Factory Oerlikon-Bührle). In 1964 it was shortened to Oerlikon-Bührle. In the 1960s and 1970s the company diversified its production and portfolio by purchasing several companies involved in a wide range of sectors, from shoes and textile to hotels and real estate. By 1973 the group was composed of more than 100 companies. That year it went public and began trading as Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG. However the group was restructured in the late 1990s after the military equipment branch incurred heavy losses in the late 1980s and 1990s. Under-performing and loss-making branches were sold off, including Bally Shoe (which it had bought in 1977), Oerlikon Contraves (armaments), Pilatus Aircraft, Britten-Norman Aircraft, as well as those involved in hotels and real estate. From then on the group concentrated essentially on new technologies. In order to reflect this major development the name was changed to Unaxis in 2000. In 2005 the Austrian Victory Industriebeteiligung AG acquired a majority of shares and one year later the name was changed to OC Oerlikon to reflect its origins.
The sign must date from the time of Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG.

For several years these painted signs were hidden behind a large billboard advertising Teka's kitchen appliances. It was removed only recently.

As one crosses the Galata Bridge and approaches the northern shore of the Golden Horn, it appears the eastern side of this building is also covered with ghost signs.

However one has to cross the bridge and walk along Tersane Caddesi to get a better view and realise what a palimpsest this wall is.

...ayman elktrod..r

The Teka group specializes in domestic and professional equipment for the kitchen and bathroom, as well as stainless steel storage containers and electronics. The company was founded in 1957, although its origins can be traced back to the forge that operated in the 1920s in the village of Haiger-Sechshelden in Hessen. Teka was one of the first companies to use stainless steel to make sinks. Over the years it expanded its presence abroad and in 1990 opened an office in Istanbul.

My guess is that the different companies whose names appear on this building - Oerlikon, Kabosan and Teka, in chronological order - all had at some point their offices in this block.

As for the building itself, if it offers great opportunities in terms of advertising, working in it must be frustrating: in spite of its excellent location, its occupants can't enjoy the absolutely amazing view over the Golden Horn and, beyond, the historic centre of Istanbul. Instead their only windows face north and overlook a busy thouroughfare. Maybe whoever built this block didn't want office workers to be distracted?

Location: Tersane Caddesi, Beyoğlu, Istanbul / Pictures taken on: 17/06/2011


JBS said...

Fantastic write-up.
Your intelligence is somehow endowed with the means to get - and spread - it around. Thanks for doing this work. It is interesting.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thank you very much for your comments JBS. I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Now I feel the pressure is on!