As the doors open to Nour al Nimer’s spacious Istanbul home, you’re immediately welcomed into a space that is part home, part private art gallery. The walls are lined with artworks – “most of which are from my father’s private collection,” the 32-year-old Turkish-Palestinian tells Bazaar – and the interior has been purposefully designed with copious amounts of character. Furniture is oversized, the colours bold, and that’s exactly the way Nour had envisioned her home of nearly two years to be. “The house has an eclectic, modern style. Our close family friend, the talented Berna Bora, orchestrated the construction. She has an early modernist style and impeccable attention to detail, which I greatly admire. Berna is heavily influenced by the legendary Pierre Chareau, Charlotte Perriand and Eileen Gray,a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture.” Before moving into the four-bedroom house, which she shares with her dog Mr Miyagi, Nour lived in London for 13 years. “I felt like it was time for a change,” she says of the move. “Even though I am half-Turkish and have spent a lot of time in Istanbul over the years, I had never really lived there full-time except for a brief period when I was very young. After a few years of construction work, the house was finally ready and I thought that it was the right moment to live in Turkey.”
Nour describes her house as her sanctuary. “I aspire to have a functional living space that is aesthetically appealing. What I love about my home is the amount of light that shines through, the high ceilings and the garden. In summer, the garden is magical and the ultimate luxury.”
An avid collector, her home is decorated with artworks and antiques that she’s sourced “from various galleries and fairs in Brussels and Paris, as well as from Mozaik and 1930s antique shops in Istanbul.” She makes informed purchases and likes to have a good level of knowledge about the creator before investing. One of her favourite paintings is by Palestinian artist Abdul Rahman Katanani that hangs in the living room. “He lives in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon. Most of the materials he uses, such as barbed wire and scrap metal, are sourced from the camp. I visited his studio in the camp a few years ago before he became increasingly famous and I was impressed and moved by his work. I have the most profound respect for him and the work he does,” she explains passionately.
A supporter of Turkish artists in particular, other treasured artworks include three pieces by the up-and-coming artist Gokcen Dilek Acay, who uses human hair to create “the most beautiful and intricate art pieces,” and her living room ceiling, a masterpiece in itself, is encrusted with glass artwork by Muge Arslan, which is also present on cabinet walls. The next work she is hoping to add to her collection is a video installation by female multimedia artist Inci Eviner from Polath, who is based in Istanbul.
In the dining room is a rectangular 575 Gio Ponti wall lamp from the 1960s, one of her favourite antiques, and a bespoke marble table with brass legs that’s perfect for entertaining (her go-to dish is spicy minced beef tacos). This is fitting given that stylish entertaining is the driving force behind Nour’s business. She founded luxury tableware company Nimerology in London in 2012 after studying surface print design and mastering in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design. “After college, I worked with ceramics, furniture, textiles and wallpaper and this is where my passion for tableware started,” she tells Bazaar, though she adds that her family also played an integral role in her career choice. “There’s no question that my interest in porcelain comes from growing up surrounded by my father’s Ottoman art collection. Plus, my mother’s elegantly dressed dinner table played a big role in what I do today.”
Nour’s inspiration for new collections originates from her extensive travels, before materialising into her intricate designs – the collection she is currently working on is inspired by “Ottoman floral motifs and geometric patterns” that will launch in late spring. Overall, she says, Nimerology is about high-end, luxury tableware in limited edition designs using the highest quality European porcelain or bone china – “I like to think of it as haute couture tableware design.”
With her eye for detail and heart for pieces with purpose, Nour al Nimer’s house is indeed a sanctuary. And whether in her plates, paintings or playful pieces of clothing, she truly leads a colourful life.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia.
Styling: Malak Rabbat. Photography: Ethan Mann