The First Mask

İlk Maske



From Refik Kutluer’s notebook:

“In those years, those who were in Ankara know that air pollution was a terrible problem. In the mornings, garbage cleaners would sweep up birds that had died from pollution. I was working on different subjects with my REF Advertising company, which I’ve founded in 1977. While I was studying at METU, I took the advantage of the long boycotts of those years and founded my second company! (The first one was the “Rep Pazarlama” company that I’ve established with my partners) Thanks to the International Telecommunication Directories I represented in Turkey, I had close relations with many large scale companies. I decided to manufacture a mask as a remedy for Ankara’s air pollution. As a result of long research, I determined the technical requirements. I had the molds made in Italy,  the special fabric required to hold 5 micron+ particles was manufactured in Bossa. At the Melamine plate factory in Istanbul, my molds were assembled and the masks were pressed until the morning during the night shifts. Afterwards, we shared the masks that came to Ankara between our relatives’ friendly houses, and we were doing the nosepiece sticking, rubber fastening and packaging processes and getting the masks ready. My masks were starting to become common in the streets. At that time, the recently deceased Bekir Coşkun (RIP), who was writing in the Ulus newspaper, devoted an article to this subject. Later on, I had the privilege of being friends with that precious person. This fast manufacturing venture that lasted about 1 year slowed down due to my intensity in different works, and competing companies that multiplied like mushrooms.  The process ended as a result of my molds being confiscated by mistake at the foreclosure that came to the factory in Istanbul. When there was a decrease in air pollution, I sold the remaining masks to car painting shops. If I had continued, the first masks on the market after this Pandemic could have been mine. Moreover, it would have been the ones that are pressed and in quality that retains 5 micron particles…”