Murat Katran and Mert Guzel (Nishane): “Istanbul is literally a bridge between cultures”

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Officially launched in Esxcence in 2015, the Turkish brand Nishane, born in Istanbul three years before, pays tribute to the roots, art and history of the city, half-way through West and Eastern traditions. Interview.

None of you was originally meant to work in the perfume industry. What idea led to the creation of Nishane in 2012? 

Murat Katran : Born and raised in Istanbul, just like Mert, I worked as an export manager in steel products. I’ve never been far from art since I had a professional career for thirteen years as an actor at the Istanbul City Theaters.
Mert Guzel : I graduated from Galatasaray University Sociology Department before I became a publisher. I launched a collection of coffee table books on the luxury hotels of Turkey. Our careers gave Murat and I the opportunity to make many connections with the luxury sector, and one day came the idea to create perfumes inspired by Istanbul. In Turkish, Nishane means mark, sign or symbol. To us, this symbol is the city itself.

In which way Istanbul inspires you?

Mert: Both western and eastern culture here combined together in a unique harmony. There are marks left from both sides, and this feels like a blessing. The music, the artifacts, the nature, even the richness of the four seasons make these lands so special, and we are just lucky enough to make the best of it. We are not educated in making perfumes, meaning we are not in the lab actually formulating them. As we said, we create a story and then this particular story leads to certain emotions which inspires us to come up with an olfactive repertoire. But I can assure you, when a story we have to tell finds its way to speak through a bottle of scent we create, there is nothing more thrilling.
Murat : As you know, for many centuries, Istanbul has been one of the most mysterious cities in human History. Once you have a deeper perspective on the heritage this city carries hidden, you immediately start to imagine! These lands welcomed so many different cultures and religions until this very moment and this endless cultural wealth inspires us every day. Istanbul is literally a bridge between civilizations and accordingly we believe that as the creative directors we take the advantage of this cultural diversity.

Could you introduce us to some of your iconic fragrances?

Mert: We are very proud, by example, of our shadow play trilogy collection, inspired by the Turkish Shadow, a popular traditional puppet art. Each scent is dedicated to a famous character. Hacivat is a tribute to elegance, kindness, competence, and love of art. This chypre is meant to help you live your best dreams by the everlasting sparkles of its joyful structure made of the stimulating notes of pineapple and bergamot backed with the genuine woody notes. Inspired by a female character, Zenne pays homage to beauty, energy, self-confidence, and flirtation, Zenne teleports you to the enigmas of the paradise gardens full of joy and romance with a deliberate mix of the fruity and floral accords along with vanilla, ambergris, and musk at the base. Karagoz represents the playful treats of life, straightforwardness, and sincerity. The cheerful opening with the pineapple and the herbs is followed by the strong personality coming from the rich heart made of neroli, jasmine and patchouli. Vetiver, agarwood, and amber were meant to be the final strokes of the brush to depict this playful character.

How do you lead the perfumers? Up to what point are they free to create?

Murat: Before agreeing on the story, we try to list down the perfume notes that could help us underline the emotion or mood we want to present. Afterwards, we try to determine the name of the perfumer with whom we believe we can carry out this project. Then, the voyage starts with our perfumer. We try hard to train our sense of smell and act almost as a half-nose during the creation stage of our new fragrance.

When you set up a new fragrance, what are your goals? Do you have a target in mind?

Mert: The storytelling aspect is the most crucial one that we want to achieve once we decide to set up a new fragrance. Afterwards, it doesn’t matter if this new fragrance is in line with the market or not. As a brand, all we care about is the story to be told and we really love to be shown as one of the trendsetter brands in the market. Therefore, we can say that coming up with something new is always what we aim for. 

Which are the main markets you target? 

Murat: The whole world is our target market. Today one can find our perfumes in more than 120 countries.

Why is it important for you to go to Esxence? 

Mert: Actually, as the brand, we have some emotional ties with Esxence since we made our global debut during Esxence 2015 after a 5-years preparation. Now that we have become a global brand, we are not in need of finding new partners via such organizations. However, it’s always great to meet our existing global partners at once in order to show them our new launches. More, we plan to party all together for the sake of the global success reached thanks to the amazing efforts of all our stakeholders.

Find out more about Nishane: 



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