Deniz Aktay likes to keep things simple. This isn’t to say that you won’t find his designs engaging or even challenging at times. But his work is clearly that of a designer who caters to strict priorities. Functionality, balance, and a sparse selection of materials are paramount throughout his work, making Aktay a designer to watch in the world of minimalism.
Born in Germany, Aktay studied architecture and urban planning at the University of Stuttgart. He graduated in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2020 that he began posting on his now wildly popular Instagram page, @dezin_design. Boasting over 80,000 followers, the page put Aktay on the map thanks to (in addition to his skill) the relentless pace with which he shares his creations. Early on, Aktay would post new designs daily, while today he’s more of an every-other-day kind of user. The frequency with which he posts isn’t inherently special — after all, anybody can throw a new piece of art up on social media. What’s made Aktay’s stand out is the high quality the work has maintained throughout the years.
Aktay uses 3D rendering to create his designs, which he’s credited in the past with allowing him to maintain his steady rate of work. He strives for realism and practicality, never letting the endless possibilities of digital creation run away with his intentions. Sometimes, that means rendering the texture of wood so specifically that you know how it feels with no more than a glance, while other times, it’s making sure the functionality of a piece (such as its materials or joints) seamlessly translates from the screen to the real world. There’s a sense of movement to much of Aktay’s work, which is cut through with lines of motion or made up of simplistic shapes. His acclaimed Moon side table — a piece that garnered acclaim in the summer of this year — consists of two pieces of shaped plywood and a circular glass top. Your perception of what the piece is, the purpose it serves, and the sum of its parts changes depending on your point of view. It’s only from an “omnipotent” overhead view that its totality (and simplicity) is evident: a circle with a simple crescent carved through the middle.
It’s the entirety of Aktay’s ethos in a single piece. At a glance, his works often impart a false sense of surrealism. It can feel like what you’re seeing is an optical illusion — his underrated Curtain side table is a prime example of this: a single sleek piece of steeply curved plywood that somehow forms a standing side table. Corners, curves, and points of connection often seem to defy logic or physics.
Make no mistake, though: Aktay’s gift is for creating fully functional furniture from minimal materials, often no more than one or two pieces at a time. His grasp of motion and sense of intentionality allow him to get the most out of each plywood panel or polymer sheet he’s working with. Smooth curves and sharp corners imbue each piece with a central dash of motion, guiding your eye across the work. It often feels as though the pieces are teaching you how to look at them in real time, showing you the way the unique physics of his work create the very practicality for which he’s garnered such acclaim.
The result is work aesthetically transgressive enough for a museum but practical enough for your living room. With Aktay’s star firmly on the rise, odds are they’ll end up in one (if not both) sooner rather than later.