Over the past 12 months at The Greek Foundation, we’ve been trying to showcase some of the best projects related to Greek design, architecture, photography, the arts and cultural production in general. Our aim has been to bring our readers articles that will interest and inspire them, but also to connect artists to the world and bring the world closer to them, too. In this context, we have compiled a list of the most popular articles of 2015, which essentially offers an opportunity to go through some of the most impressive projects of the year, step by step.
At the same time, however, it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that in the midst of this huge economic, political and social crisis in Greece, creativity can become a synonym of hope: despite all the economic burdens, budget cuts and all kinds of difficulties, cultural production is still there, and it’s thriving: photographers exploring the interrelation between human nature and natural and urban landscapes, modern takes on traditional architecture, Greek artists opening up about their craft and their personal perspective of life and society in general, narrations of imaginary realities through colors, forms and elegant designs inspired by Greece’s long history and compelling tradition, are some of the main highlights of the year we are now leaving behind us.
Of course, this list would not have been possible without the support and contribution of our readers, and most important of all, the architects, photographers, designers, painters and all the other artists who shared with us the outcomes of their efforts, talent, imagination and vision. So, on behalf of the Greek Foundation, a big thank you to you all and we wish you a happy and creative New Year!
Daniel Egnéus decided to do these drawings of Athens as a reaction to the city often being depicted in foreign press as a gruesome hellscape. “In foreign magazines you see all these black and white photographs of beggars or an empty street with abandoned houses, a total cliché. These images represent my daily surroundings, which I find both beautiful and interesting. I have a studio in the center and every morning I come from the metro at Monastiraki walking up Athinas Street towards it. These pictures are from places I see everyday, Monastiraki, Pittaki Street, Athinas Street, Plateia Agias Eirinis, The market in Athinas and Omonia, when I take the metro home I jump of at Evangelismos and walk up Marasli in Kolonaki where I live. So it’s a pretty simple idea, it’s a one hour walk in Athens if you work in the center and use the metro to return home in the evening.”
The restoration of this house in Tinos retained and highlighted its basic characteristics, transforming it into a modern functional residence adaptable to the future needs of its habitants. One of the main concerns throughout the design and construction was to retain the nature of the materials, the construction entity and the intriguing spatial arrangement, within the cost and time requirements of the project. In the spirit of determinist economy, user functions were planned on the basis of a unified space (the ‘wet site’) joining in this way the new shell to the old.
In this series, Nikos Vavdinoudis photographs the Bell-wearers (Kodonoforoi) of Macedonia, a Dionysian tradition that has survived from ancient times to date in the Drama and Kavala Prefectures in Greece. Between 6-8 January those region feel the earth tremble beneath their feet, as rituals are performed to cast out any evil. Participants can be seen wearing masks made of animal skins, ringing bells strapped around their waists and having their face covered by ash. According to the natives’ account, it’s a symbolic call for a fertile and good year, full of fruitfulness and productivity.
The Landscapes series by Kostas Kapsianis explores the landscape as a space irrevocably alienated from human imposition. The site is not intended as an objective ground for aesthetic contemplation and relaxation mid occurring events and/or situations, but rather the opposite. The apparently invisible – but nevertheless existing – relationships create situations that are interwoven to form a space anew. The perpetual state of human intervention and the hidden social desire are what determine the properties of space, their effects evident in the structures, semantics and everyday practices of political behavior and identity.
An icon of Greek post-war modern architecture, the Doxiadis building, having decayed during the last 20 years, finally came back to life through its conversion into a residential building by Divercity Architects. This conversion raises crucial questions about the notions of memory, preservation, integration into natural and built environments and innovation inspired by the potential of existing spaces.
The aim of this Neoclassical House Renovation in Exarcheia, Athens – a historic neighborhood formed around 1870 that has played a significant role in the social and political life of Greece – was to transform an old house into a modern, single-family residence while maintaining its character. It’s a place where many intellectuals and artists live, among them Karolos Koun a famous Greek theater director who was a former resident of the house in the 50’s and 60’s. In the years that followed, this neoclassic residence also hosted a local tavern.
Part of a two-year project by Giorgos Georgiou that took place in the streets of Athens between 2011-2012, these are images that have become so common that are almost worthless. A devastated society, terrified, sick, in perpetual war with common sense, suddenly gets in conflict with reality but mostly with itself, creating unprecedented situations and often painful sights. Lack of altruism and compassion enhance the impact and society almost collapses in terms of everyday life.
London-based industrial designer Michael Anastassiades talks about his work, influences and his Greek heritage.
Ioannis Exarchou designed this vacation house by reconstructing a 100 year-old abandoned stable in the countryside of Tinos island, creating a summer retreat with minimum cost that enjoys views to the surrounding mountains and the valley beneath. The architect’s main objective was to retain the unique cavernous feeling of the space. The original stone building structure was left intact and the interventions were limited to plastering the inner side of the walls, the mortar joints on the external walls and the colored concrete floors of the interior. The few new structures created include a rough concrete bench with a sink, and a shower space and toilet room surrounded by concrete walls.
Violent Silk was created by collecting and rearranging digital fragments, coming from an online research. The digital arrangement in every Kalos&Klio work creates ipso facto a particular archive-collection. For the first time, the artistic duo incorporates a parallel archive to the presentation of their works. This archive, consisting of images, pictures, diagrams and articles from on-line and printed media, which were fished on the internet, is not something separate from the works, but it accompanies it, it documents and gives us a more complete, raw picture of the violence as a means of control, enforcement, power, revenge and instinct in both public and private space. Sometimes violence is the expression of an official state practice and some others an illegal and criminal act.
This project by Marily Konstantinopoulou is about the history and the people of Salin-de-Giraud, a village located south-east of the Rhône river in Camargue, France. The village was built at the end of the nineteenth century and became the hub of the emerging salt industry of the time; it is renowned for its salt production still today. Among other minorities, Camargue became home to many Greek refugees from Asia Minor.
Palimpsest designed the Vacation House Villa Fabrica in Santorini using the structure and spatial qualities of a complex operated in the past for the production and storage of wine and tsipouro. The original layout consists of spaces used for grape stomping attached to large double height spaces where the wine is stored, a pattern repeated with variations throughout the complex. Vaulted spaces of various sizes and uses are organized into two basic building volumes: some spaces are of cave-like, hidden form (yposkafoi) and others are cubic volumes.
Photographer Petros Koublis talks about his work, his approach to photography and art, and his sources of inspiration.
In Kafouros’ works a tangle of seemingly different stories unravels. These stories are being developed along intertwined paths. The relations created between individual forms arise either from instinctive and unconscious or from conscious and rational processes. Hence, despite the fact that the final image is articulated by classical forms, it acquires an intense psychedelic character. The structural complexity of the artist’s works undermines the clarity of the images, merges their limits and fertilizes new forms and associations. The more detailed the data that construct the partial narrations of the work are, the more obscure and remote the central narration seems.
Inspired by the archaic harmony and the essential simplicity of Greek civilization, the Althaea Collection is an exclusive line of eclectic home accessories that resulted from a collaboration between Two Is Company and Zeus + Dione. Industrial designer Dianna Karvounis and architect Vivian Philippa (Two Is Company) referenced prehistoric patterns and embraced symbols and intricate details from archaic and Geometric vessels, liberating them from their complex background and transforming them into functional, lifestyle objects.
Painting has always possessed the capability of crystallizing out what is precious and expanding the subjective; of creating, starting out from the world, another world, transcending the obvious appearance of things. Today, in an age of vulgarity – that is, of images without flesh and without meaning, painting still defends the metaphysics of image-making, the vital myth of re-presentation. Adrianos Sotiris, a romantic in an anti-romantic age, is a painter of a gifted generation who lays claim to the lost (?) honor of painting and re-negotiates its position in History as well as in a culture which has learnt to consume simulacra instead of creating values or formulating interpretations.
Having superseded the false dilemma between representation and abstraction, and painting at the exact opposite end to the current pictorial nihilism, Stefanos Rokos creates one of the most vital incarnations of the contemporary one could wish for at this day and age. The particular brand of happiness offered by his works consists in the gradual activation of our desire to inhabit them. At the formal level, and despite their iconographic immediacy, his paintings achieve their elan by means of an imperceptible reversal. Their pictorial codes derive from the post-modern mass-culture (pop-art, graphic design, comic strips), yet at the same time they serve a powerful personal modernism.
Product and Interior Designer Afroditi Krassa talks about her work, her approach to design and her influences.
Ioannis Fetanis designed the packaging and branding of this eloquent bottle of Grecian olive oil by transcribing it with a unique letter shaped like a drop of olive oil. The bottle is sealed with oak wood engraved with the Dogma logo, ultimately bagged in burlap. Exclusively sourced from the Koroneiki variety of olives (the so called ‘queen of olives’), and cultivated in the orchards of a family buisnees in the area of Kalamata–Greece for more than 3 generations, this premium quality olive oil is known for its fresh fruity aroma and strong flavor.
The Autumn/Winter “Antithesis” 2015 collection of Zeus+Dione uses as a starting point the unity of the opposites, a philosophical concept proposed by Heraclitus, which explains how the material world is composed of elements that derive from pairs of opposites which then define the Apeiron. The collection concentrates on the unity of the genders, an oppositional pair, and its derivatives developed into single objects that embody the soft focused effect of femininity versus the sharp masculine tailoring.
Inspired by the ‘Black Paintings’ of Francisco Goya – a group of paintings from his later years that portray intense, haunting themes – Dirty Harry created this series of photos, his own tribute to the Spanish painter. “When I visited the Prado museum in Madrid, the sector that impressed me most was the hall with Fransisco Goya’s “Pintura Negra”. Was this work a result of the of the painter’s late years’ mental disorder as many critics mention or there was something else going on? These images are my prayer to Goya ‘s nightmares.”
On a sun-drenched southern tip of Mykonos Island, a weatherworn house was transformed into a modern day agora, the Scorpios Beach Club, offering an atmospheric experience that celebrates beach culture and presents a total experience to visitors, taking the mystical charge of nighttime rituals into daytime.
The photographs of Alexis Karnoutsos capture a world of companionship, innocence and compassion, in stories whose heroes strive to hold up against an otherwise ugly decadence. Often hidden in the shadows, away from the lights of the main stage, it’s a world in black and white withdrawn from the colors of the everyday reality. These are stories told through the protagonists’ gazes; sometimes innocent and peaceful and at other times agitated, whether in nature or in their urban surroundings, they persistently refuse to surrender to the mundane.
The renovation of this traditional tower in Mani, Peloponnese resulted to a unified set of buildings with a strong and unique character that respects the surrounding landscape and traditional architecture. The towers, these imposing tall and narrow prisms, are the most prevailing and defining characteristic of a Mani building. Located on the outskirts of the settlements, the so-called ‘xemonia’ were erected in order to protect or expand the enclosed land. They served to control and keep out the enemies, but also to connect the main settlement to new territories. The Tainaron Blue Retreat is a typical example of a traditional xemonia in South Greece. The tower – now transformed into a small guest house – is built on solid ground and rocks known as ‘rizomies’, at a strategic spot that offers an amazing view of the sea and the surrounding landscape.
The main idea behind the design of the Ktima house on the island of Antiparos, Greece, was based on using the existing site walls and topography to create two dissimulated house elevations. ‘Ktima’ in Greek stands for farm or plot with fertile land. The project site consists of mostly green steep slopes, with a few trees – an exception in the context of the island. Order and chaos can be found in Greek civilization throughout the ages, including in our days, and the architects were particularly interested in these aspects when developing the design concept of the house.
This house in Kea was designed and built respecting the special characteristics of its surrounding landscape and using the island’s traditional building techniques. The designed evolved around maintaining the existing flora, restructuring the site’s terracing and organizing the house in volumes that are either independent or ‘rise’ as intermediate gaps.
Natalia Kokosalaki intervened in an abandoned neoclassical house in Psyrri, Athens, converting an empty space with a beautiful shell into a flexible and multi-functional loft. Psyrri is one of the most controversial areas of the city, and the particular building is one of the few residential spaces in the neighborhood, as all other buildings are used as places of entertainment. “My general philosophy in architecture is avoiding to create a final product, to dissuade myself from seeking absolute control of the designed spaces. In this matter, I was interested more in the physical quality of the spaces rather their uses. Besides, the owner is a photographer and his desire from the beginning was to be able to explore the prospects of each corner of the house for various fashion shoots, as indeed he has done.”
Stratos Kalafatis’ pictures document the self-governed Greek Monastic State of of Mount Athos – and center of Orthodox Monasticism – revealing its essence, experientially and spiritually more than aesthetically. They paint the tales of more than 25 journeys, 200 days and nights using saturated electric hues, full face portraits, wide-angle shots and –above all– impressively skilful nocturnal landscapes. The photographer’s gaze conveys the weight of the Holy Mountain’s thousand-year tradition, its history and spirituality, its inner riches and outward poverty, in entirely contemporary forms, with the sensibility of our own era, blending the glossy and the imposing into an entirely idiosyncratic Pop style.
Designed as a composite ‘terrace’ on a steep slope, this bioclimatic residence in Serifos follows the Cycladic typology, providing internal and external areas of distinct qualities. The rocky slopes of the Cycladic landscape are dominated by the picture of a complex consisting of longitudinal dry stonewalling whose function is to hold in the precious soil on the terraces formed there. The dry stonewalling here is transformed into a tool of composition which defines the enclosed spaces, shapes the courtyards, gives protection from the northerly winds, and frames the view, thus creating a complex of interior and exterior spaces, in sequence with the natural flow of the slope.
Adam Martinakis is an artist who works and experiments using computer-generated visual media (3d digital image/rendering – animation, digital sculpture, digital video, new media). Through his art, he transforms his memories and feelings into complex worlds in 3d digital space, which stand out for their sculptural elements, strong forms and emotions.
This traditional art book by Fotis Varthis is a fairytale he wrote and illustrated with 14 woodcut prints. The story talks about a King who finds a boy in the woods and decides to raise him as his own son, along with his other two. However, the day arrives when King is old and sick. The castle receives news of war. An evil army is marching towards them. The three young boys start a journey to find the way to save the Castle and their father…
This summerhouse on the island of Syros is defined by clear and square volumes and blends in with the Cycladic landscape, offering spectacular views of the Aegean. Hosting a family of four and their guests, the design of the residence was dominated by the steep and intense topography of the site. A massive staircase leads to a gradual descent towards the house, intensifying the experience of the surrounding landscape. The entrance is surrounded by the higher volumes of the main areas of the house, ending the descent path, then opening immediately to an ample view of the Aegean.
The concept of ‘Vedema’ was to bring into surface and reveal a different face of Santorini, its hidden aspects and less known parts. The idea was to turn the eyes away from the famous caldera of the island, one of the most breathtaking and photographed parts of the world, and investigate the peculiarities, the secrets and the mysteries of the landscape that spreads towards the eastern part of the island.
Built on a plot of land at the port of Ios Island and overlooking Sikinos across the sea, the Hotel Relux Ios Island was redesigned by A31 Architecture in a way that blends it with its surrounding natural setting, creating rooms with unique morphological properties. The landscape design takes advantage of site-specific features such as microclimatic and topographical conditions, as well as the existing vegetation. The uneven shape of the plot, which seems to be “embracing” the complex, forms private gardens as well as adds outdoor spaces for the hotel’s function.
Kanella designed a strong and elegant identity and packaging for Meliartos, a contemporary Athenian bakery that pays homage to the candidly quaint style of old Athens by creating and serving fresh bites and drinks. The company’s logo and its various applications, inspired by the Byzantine bread stamps, take a rather typographic route. Each component of the name ‘Meliartos’ is illustrated in the logo. The hexagon resembles a hive for ‘meli,’ Greek word for honey, and the circle brings to mind ‘artos,’ Greek word for bread.
Architect Prodromos Nikiforidis talks about urban regeneration, public spaces, the city of Thessaloniki and Greek Architecture.
“I’ve always been interested in the defeated. My main interest is to portray a person trapped in dire straits, caught in the snare of denial while those living in victory, happiness or joy mean nothing to me. Happiness has no depth. The taste of water has no depth either and that is why it is so important to everyone. Defeat is a fate we all share even though we try to fool ourselves with petty successes, university degrees, awards, beautiful wives, bravery medals promotions, luxurious cars, luxurious houses, business deals, expensive funerals. Defeat is the inescapable destiny of mortal beings, nations and civilizations.”
Located in the northern suburbs of Athens, an imposing stone-built edifice was renovated by Proplusma Arkitektones to accommodate a kindergarden with a vigorous environment that triggers the eye and stimulates every child’s imagination. In view of the distinct historical identity of the building, which still stands as a prolific example of the iconic architectural style of the Greek interwar period (originally designed by the distinguished Architect N. Zoumpoulidis), the main intention of the architects was to highlight the particular morphological elements of the kindergarten’s premises, by creating a bold and contemporary design for the building’s interior spaces.
“The project is called Recycle because it’s an effort to find a way to convert something useless to something useful. In photography, everything should serve a purpose. Every photograph should reply to the question ‘So, what?’. This project was an experiment on how memory works, the connection between places you have lived in and the people you’ve had in your life in that specific time and space. It is a game about how the urban landscape can coexist with a portrait within your mind and create an interesting visual effect, as the stability of buildings is combined with the naturalness of portraits of people.”
Krama Studio designs premium quality pens that combine functionality, elegance and refined aesthetics. The studio is dedicated to delivering premium quality products and services to an elite clientele, aiming at achieving functionality through unconventional thinking and practices. The outcome is minimal objects that are intricate in concept, simple to use and admirable. The pens are made of brass and come in various colors, including gold, bronze, blue titanium, burnt bronze, and black, and there is no need to worry about retrieving special parts, as they are compatible with most standard Rollerball type refills.
Nadja is a pair of apartments in Athens that were renovated by Point Supreme Architects using bright and warm colors, and custom-made, playful constructions. Instead of the typical division of rooms for kitchen, dining, living and playing, spaces in Nadja are flexible and look towards each other. They are furnished with custom made constructions that serve as viewing devices; the cupboards, seats, stair, shelves and tables are mixed with different typologies of screens, interior partitions, curtains and other visual filters that physically delineate while visually connecting.
Suvlaki is a restaurant that brings authentic, traditionally cooked Greek souvlaki – a time honored, everyday staple of the Greek diet – to the heart of London’s Soho. Designed by AfroditiKrassa, it features a category-defining interior and brand design that reinvents Greek food and restaurant design, stands out and creates presence in a very competitive and busy locale.