The way Georgia Frances King and Mete Erdogan met – in New York City at a cheap late-night dumpling spot – could have been pulled out of an indie rom-com. Erdogan was taking himself out for dinner as consolation following a bout of bad dates. King was up to her usual Sunday night pastime: getting dumplings with friends after watching Mad Men at the bar next door.
“I was sitting at a table eating my feelings, soy sauce dripping down my face, when in walks this beautiful redhead,” Erdogan says. “I initially wasn’t going to say anything, but then I heard the Australian accent. I said to myself, ‘Okay, think of the coolest thing you can say right now,’ so I leant over and stupidly asked, ‘What did you order?’”
The pair chatted briefly but didn’t exchange numbers. The day after, Erdogan found King’s Instagram profile and hit follow, though they wouldn’t end up connecting again for eight years.
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Mid-pandemic, King was still in New York, working as a literary agent, when she posted a call-out on Instagram for book ideas. Erdogan, back home in Melbourne, was illustrating a kids’ book and thought he’d shoot his shot again, this time with a manuscript.
The book didn’t go anywhere, but over the next few months (and after King’s move back to Melbourne) the relationship did.
When Broadsheet visits the couple’s Brunswick apartment, it’s filled with mementos and the lived-in charm of two people who know and love each other well.
Adorning the walls are paper bags from their favourite sandwich places, old illustrations gifted by Erdogan to King, and art collected on their travels. Disney figurines, books King has produced, and even a vintage Chinese opera vest fill the shelves. Their cat, Lila, is almost unnoticeable among the furniture.
“I’d describe our style as ‘maximalist Australiana’. These placemats with the native flowers on them were my grandfather’s, and this vase is one that my friend’s mum sculpted herself,” King says, gesturing around the room.
Most furniture in the apartment has been collected over the years from Facebook Marketplace, including a tropical painted lampshade that sits in the aptly named “jungle room”, where King and Erdogan relax on their lush sofa and watch movies or play video games on a projector.
As well as the decor, the apartment block holds sentimental value for Erdogan. “My whole family used to live in this block, sisters and everything. Now it’s just my parents and us, but it’s still pretty special,” he says. “Over lockdown, my mum used to drop food off right at our door. We’re Turkish Cypriots, so food is how we show we care. I’d say my love language is snacks.”
This often manifests with Erdogan bringing King plates of fruit and nuts while she works at home. After serving as an editor for the likes of Frankie and Kinfolk magazines, then leaving her New York job as a literary agent, King is now the first Melbourne-based adult non-fiction publisher for the ABC Books imprint at Harper Collins.
“A lot of my job involves editing very large amounts of text, and the only way I can do that is cross-legged in bike shorts on the couch,” King says. “The desk is for emails, and then there’s a little nook where I do my manuscript reading that we call the ‘phone-booth harem’.”
Erdogan prefers working around people at his office, which is just a four-minute bike ride away. He spends four days a week as an art director at production studio Monster & Bear, setting Fridays aside to work on freelance illustration projects and watch cartoons at home (“for research”, he says).
“I’ve shifted gears in my professional life so many times. I’ve been an illustrator, a designer, a muralist, and ended up in New York at Saatchi & Saatchi as an art director,” Erdogan says. “When I moved back to Melbourne I started a freelance collective with a friend, called Either Either. I’ve just recently started at Monster & Bear.”
As art director, Erdogan does everything from pitching ideas with the creative team to sitting in the writers room, and even styling the shots on set. “We just finished a shoot for Peroni where I was there spritzing the bottles with wax and salt water, and beating egg whites to make the foam on top look nicer.”
His passion and confidence in his creativity are what first attracted King to Erdogan, she says. Now they’re the things she loves the most. “He’s just such an intoxicating person to be around because he’s so comfortable in his own skin and so good at what he does,” King says. “I love looking over at him when he’s drawing. He’s so talented, and I find it endearing.”
Erdogan and King still live up to their rom-com roots, doing things like putting love notes in packed lunches and hiding date pits in each other’s jacket pockets. (“It’s just a funny thing we’ve always done,” Erdogan says.)
“Since we’ve both started new jobs, we’ve really learnt that relationships are not about equality, they’re about balance,” King says. “You don’t have to make sure that everything is split down the middle. There are times I need to rely on him and there are times he needs to rely on me, and that’s alright.”
Read more in our Creative Couples series.