After Istanbul Hilton: Turkey's local-global dichotomy in the 1950s interiors of Divan Hotel and cinar Hotel

Atmaca Cetin H., Uz F., Tuna Ultav Z.

INTERIORS-DESIGN ARCHITECTURE CULTURE, vol.12, no.1, pp.19-49, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/20419112.2022.2018799
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Avery, Design & Applied Arts Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.19-49
  • Keywords: Istanbul Hilton Hotel, Divan Hotel, cinar Hotel, history of modern interiors, local/global dichotomy
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This study analyzes the socio-spatial qualities of hotel interiors built in Turkey after the opening of the Istanbul Hilton Hotel in 1955. It aims to reveal the construction of the modern interior in Turkey and its effects on social life at the Divan Hotel (1956) and Cinar Hotel (1958), which were Turkey's first modern hotels built with local capital and local architects. As Turkey's first modern hotel, Istanbul Hilton was regarded as a model for subsequent tourism buildings. Cinar and Divan Hotels hotels were usually compared with the Hilton's aesthetics, and seen as reminiscent of the Hilton, particularly the outer shell and building formation. However, their interiors have been completely overlooked. This is an important omission, because, contrary to its modernist outer shell, the Istanbul Hilton Hotel interiors were designed with a contrasting orientalist approach. This study therefore investigates how this dichotomy influenced the interiors of the Divan Cinar Hotels. Drawing on the theory of transculturation by Ortiz, this study challenges the view that these hotels were mere host sites, embodying and copying modern architecture without any filtering. A complete interior atmosphere was analyzed in terms of the hotels' materiality, such as furniture and art objects, but moreover, the social meaning of the space and transformation of social habits are examined to discuss local-global dichotomies. Information for the analysis was gathered through a literature review, observations, and an analysis of images obtained from personal archives and databases. This data was supported with oral interviews with architects, interior designers, craftsmen, tourism professionals, and contemporary witnesses. The findings show that the Divan Hotel and Cinar Hotel were both spatially and socially influenced by the Istanbul Hilton Hotel. However, they also sought a modernity of their own by carefully selecting and blending western influences, both spatially and socially. Most importantly, since the Divan Cinar Hotels refrained from the image difference between the "modern" and connotations of the "orient," these spaces can be read as interpretations of an internalized modernity.