Apart from her stellar reputation in the design industry for designing residences, hotels and restaurants in Turkey and overseas, Turkish interior designer Zeynep Fadillioglu made her most profound mark as the first woman in history to design a mosque.

the complex that comprises ‘sakirin mosque’


Being deemed as the first woman commissioned to create a mosque in Turkey was quite a feat. Indeed, for a mosque to be designed by a woman was unfathomable until recently. Fadillioglu’s brilliant talent in creating jaw-dropping modern spaces certainly played a big role in her being chosen to create an Islamic place of worship. Needless to say, the results were astoundingly noteworthy and exceptional.

the ‘sakirin mosque’ in istanbul features an aluminum composite dome


The Mosque

The mosque, aptly named Sakirin Mosque, is one of the 700 new mosques in Turkey, and is the only one designed by a woman. Fadillioglu was commissioned to do the mosque by a London-based Arab-Turkish family in memory of their deceased mother (and Fadillioglu’s great-aunt), Semiha Sakir. Sakirin is translated as “those who are thankful (to God),” and the name itself perfectly captures her ingenious representation of the Muslim religion. Sakirin Mosque is in fact a fitting place for worship because of its outstanding and magnificent beauty.

looking upwards provides the viewer with a richly layered landscape of color and reflective light


Thanks to her over 16 years of solid background in designing restaurants and hotels, Fadillioglu managed to incredibly mix the concept of the old and the new as well as Western and Eastern values. She blended modern materials with traditional Ottoman ones. Furthermore, she used Islamic symbolism and Ottoman artifacts and designs presented in modern-minded ways.


the exterior of ‘sakirin mosque’ features an ornately patterned wall which reveals inner light  


The mosque’s beauty and serene interiors are brought to life through her use of plate glass walls etched with verses from Quran and the intelligent use of space, giving it bright and airy ambiance.  Her feminine and modern touch can be seen through the grand details she painstakingly incorporated in the mosque’s interior design. A large metal sphere set above the entrance, a glass chandelier specially crafted in China, and a breathtaking staircase are just few of the breathtaking details of the mosque. These exquisite details successfully represent Zeynep’s flair in designing.


the interior of ‘sakirin mosque’ includes gold, textural details


Truly a sight to behold, the Sakirin mosque is a space where Muslims can worship comfortably. Most importantly, Fadillioglu created a place of worship where women’s comfort and place in the society and religion are given utmost importance. Unlike the rest of the mosques in Turkey where women are allocated small, dark spaces usually at the back, in Sakirin Mosque, women are given bright, airy space where they can pray at ease.  

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Fadillioglu didn’t initially study interior design – in fact, she studied Computer Science at the University of Sussex and at Control Data Institute. When she got interested in interior design, she took a course in art history and design at Inchbald School of Design in London. She married a restaurateur, and went on to design restaurants and clubs in modern Istanbul. Later, she formed a strong team of 18 creatives– architects, interior designers and artists – and called her firm Zeynep Fadillioglu Design or ZF Design. The firm is licensed in Qatar, the Netherlands, India and Turkey.

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Over the years, she has garnered rave reviews and won awards such as Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year in 2002; House & Garden International Interior Designer of the Year in 2002; Modern Designer of the Year, Design and Decoration Awards in 2005; and The Wifts Foundation International Visionary Award in 2011.


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Representing Turkish Design

Fadillioglu leads the new generation of Turkish designers who are embracing diversity. Growing up in European influences, she dares to marry the West and the East. Her 18-strong team is keen to incorporate the Western influence with Turkish culture and art. Fadillioglu believes that Turkey’s infinitely rich culture needs to introduced to the world. Despite a heavy European influence, she makes it a point to combine the elements of her heritage with her modern, European designs.

With her strong background in creating posh, urban interior spaces, Fadillioglu is clearly onto the right track. Her marrying of the urban with rural, her Ottoman heritage, makes her stand out among other emerging female designers today.


Designing Marti Istanbul Hotel

Known for her knack in designing plush, cosmopolitan restaurants and hotels, one of the notable works of Fadillioglu aside from the Sakirin mosque is the Marti Istanbul Hotel. The hotel’s extravagant modern interiors boast of modern Ottoman style. Grand, royal-looking, modern and visually stimulating, the Marti Istanbul Hotel shows Fadillioglu’s impeccable taste and appreciation in everything beautiful. Again, the European influences and Ottoman heritage that Fadillioglu aims to show in all of her works is evident. The luxurious rooms, suites, atriums and ballrooms have magnificent, airy, bright ambience, giving comfort to all guests. Each room in the hotel is equipped with modern technology, and designed and decorated with classic, rich Turkish details.



Design philosophy

Fadillioglu’s work shows her ability to tell stories – from combining the East and the West; the old and the new; the modern and traditional materials; and rural and urban. Her flair as an artist certainly knows no bounds; and it is not quite an easy accomplishment to meet her clients’ tastes, preferences and demands while putting great consideration on aesthetics and functionality. But, given her strong beliefs as an artist and experience in the design industry, she more than pulls it off effortlessly.


“My designs always serve the client’s requests and needs. Each is bespoke; designed with respect to the environment and to the architecture of the building. Designing a public space is always a challenge: As with residential projects, you are designing to a single client’s tastes and thinking of their priorities while combining aesthetics with functionality. In restaurant design, you need to fulfill the owner’s or manager's specifications and wishes while thinking of the comfort and expectations of hundreds of customers. It is a challenge because you have to be cost conscious and yet creative,” explains Fadillioglu.

As one of the emerging designers today, and being in the forefront of Turkish women designers, Fadillioglu dares to make Turkish culture, heritage and art known to the world, all with modern nuances. She explains, “In my designs, I am combining East and West—mixing traditional and contemporary. My designs reflect a modern understanding of our roots and I am telling my story through colors, textures, textiles, and artistic items.



Her furniture line

Brimming with creativity as evident on her brilliant work, Fadillioglu is ready to conquer the furniture industry with her first furniture line. Fadillioglu’s range of contemporary furnishings will represent her beliefs as an artist – her pieces depict creativity, functionality, spirit, quality, richness, and her respect for heritage and modernism.

To learn more about Zeynep Fadillioglu and her work visit ZFDesign.com.


Image Source: Interior Design magazine.

Interior designerTurkish interior designZeynep fadillioglu


Pillows & Beyond

Pillows & Beyond

Your designs are simply breath taking! I’ll be on a buying trip there in a few weeks and am definitely going to nudge my clients in the direction of approaching their design from a more global perspective. Especially when it comes to layering in patterns and textures.




Razia Awan

Razia Awan

ASA! sister, This Masjid is so beautifully designed, I have no words to express
All the detail explains it all
You are an amazing designer.
I am a muslim residing in US and some people build a small local Masjid but they put up some tiles, in a very
strange manor. I wish you were hare ,or is there any way you can guide me how to fix the foyer or the main member area.
I am a physician , interior design is my hobby and I want to help improve the Masjid which is my local Masjid
near my home.
Thank you

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