Greece is for Lovers - studio/brand profile

While it is true that Design daily is travelling through Spain and France at the moment, dropping in on a few design and photographer friends (with a few corresponding posts to be delivered soon), this weeks post on Greece is for Lovers might lead to you to believe that D.d has also popped over to the land of sun, sand and taramasalata. Unfortunately this is not the case but ever since coming across a window display in a fashion boutique in Milan in April that featured their wonderful ‘The Harder They Come’ stools, I have been keen to do a post on this intriguing Greek design studio……so here it is:

All photography by Nikos Alexopoulos

‘Demigod’ - A pot coaster or paper weight by Greece is for Lovers, in water-jet cut black or green marble.

‘Demigod’ - A pot coaster or paper weight by Greece is for Lovers, in water-jet cut black or green marble.

The three founders of Greece is for Lovers, Vasso Damkou, Thanos Karampatsos and Christina Kotsilelou became acquainted while studying in London in the early 2000's. After showing their first collaborative piece at the Galerie Sofie Lachaert in Belgium in late 2005, the trio returned to Greece and in 2006 founded their own design studio under the Greece is for Lovers name. 

‘Slice me nice’ A marble chopping board-come-herb crusher. In the shape of the ultimate seaside accessory, the beach racket plus ball. In black or white marble.

‘Slice me nice’ A marble chopping board-come-herb crusher. In the shape of the ultimate seaside accessory, the beach racket plus ball. In black or white marble.

Playing on stereotypical themes of ancient Greece using traditional materials such as marble and leather, the studio creates interior objects lighting and furniture which reference modern day Greek tourist kitsch. The studio’s aim is to convey their particular ironic aesthetic by using healthy amounts of humour. After the studio launched at the Pick-nick for 2 exhibition at Galerie Sophie Lachaert, they moved onto showcasing work like the 'Slice me Nice' chopping board at Milan's Salone Satellite in April 2007 and at events such as Designers Block and 100% Design in London.

'Tan Lines' series. Described as “sun-kissed, foldable furniture” by Greece is for Lovers, the pieces are in aluminum and untreated leather, decorated with sun–dyed nautical patterns. Limited edition of 4 sets.

'Tan Lines' series. Described as “sun-kissed, foldable furniture” by Greece is for Lovers, the pieces are in aluminum and untreated leather, decorated with sun–dyed nautical patterns. Limited edition of 4 sets.

Vasso Damkou left the studio in September 2010 but the remaining two founders have continued to design and release objects and to show regularly at various design fairs and events across Europe and America. Greece is for Lovers - the unofficial slogan for Greece in the 1970's - was chosen as the studio and brand name because of how it perfectly reflects the studio's interest in kitsch slogans and Greece's ongoing obsession with their ancient history.   

‘Tougher than Leather’ A leather covered skateboard incorporating a pair of Greek sandals.

‘Tougher than Leather’ A leather covered skateboard incorporating a pair of Greek sandals.

The accessories, furniture and one-off objects sold under the brand Greece is for Lovers, start at as little as 15 euros for the hilariously named “No Sleep till Hades” range with the most expensive piece in the collection being “Ridden in Stone”, a 2500 euro limited edition skateboard carved in marble.

‘Atlantish Scarf’ A silk scarf featuring the map of the Lost Atlantis. Reminiscent of the disposable paper tablecloths found in many Greek restaurants;  Digital print on silk.

‘Atlantish Scarf’ A silk scarf featuring the map of the Lost Atlantis. Reminiscent of the disposable paper tablecloths found in many Greek restaurants;  Digital print on silk.

While the studio does create some limited edition work their production pieces are extremely well priced and offer a genuine alternative to trashy souvenirs while simultaneously poking gentle fun of them. The 'Atlantish' scarf printed on silk is just 50 euro for example.

'Atlantish Decanter’ A ceramic take on the ubiquitous styrofoam water cooler made from glazed red clay with a macramé handle. Limited edition of seven.

'Atlantish Decanter’ A ceramic take on the ubiquitous styrofoam water cooler made from glazed red clay with a macramé handle. Limited edition of seven.

‘Amen Tableware’ A humorous view on the rebellious attitude of modern Greeks. Printed china in two sizes. 

‘Amen Tableware’ A humorous view on the rebellious attitude of modern Greeks. Printed china in two sizes. 

Unlike Versace who seemed to worship the Greek key pattern, Greece is for Lovers manages to find ways of using it that are surprising and contemporary. Of course the pattern is another example of how the studio uses overdone tourist motifs and icons to create humorous and interesting objects.

‘Got Milk?’ A stone version of the wooden folk stool with fluffy goat fur held in place with a leather strap.

‘Got Milk?’ A stone version of the wooden folk stool with fluffy goat fur held in place with a leather strap.

‘Flavour of the Month’ A delicious-looking paperweight made in white marble and chromed brass.

‘Flavour of the Month’ A delicious-looking paperweight made in white marble and chromed brass.

Everything from the witty copy writing to subtle Grecian references such as the way 'GIFL' is given the traditional 'Greek Key' tiling treatment in the 'Flavour of the Month' paper weight, is carefully considered and designed. This may at first appear like a light-hearted romp but beneath all the fun is some seriously good product design.

‘Vanity Faith’ - table and floor lamps featuring orthodox priests' hats as lampshades. Made from felt, satin and leather with powdered coated steel frames.

‘Vanity Faith’ - table and floor lamps featuring orthodox priests' hats as lampshades. Made from felt, satin and leather with powdered coated steel frames.

One of the products that shows the studio's ability to cross over to a more orthodox market (no pun intended), the 'Vanity Faith' lamps take a ready made component - in this case a priest's hat - and turns it into a beautifully realised lighting concept.

‘Vanity Faith’ Tissue box. Iroko wood cnc-milled from a solid block, and hand-waxed. Limited edition of 15.

‘Vanity Faith’ Tissue box. Iroko wood cnc-milled from a solid block, and hand-waxed. Limited edition of 15.

In recent years the Greece is for Lovers duo, Thanos Karampatsos and Christina Kotsilelou, have shown at a variety of events and shows in Europe including at a group show called "Oukan Introduces: Skin 1" at the Oukan Concept store in Berlin in late 2012 and at The Sluice Art Fair in London the following year. 

‘The Harder They Come’ Limited edition of 3 swivel stools made of reinforced steel bars and Aegean marble pebbles. The rock seats are a natural phenomenon and were found lying on the beach.

‘The Harder They Come’ Limited edition of 3 swivel stools made of reinforced steel bars and Aegean marble pebbles. The rock seats are a natural phenomenon and were found lying on the beach.

First shown in Athens in 2014, 'The Harder they Come' stools adorned the windows of Bel Boutique in San Babila during this year's Salone del Mobile. As usual the GIFL team came up with a witty one-liner for their collaboration with fashion designer Angelos Bratis - 'Only the tanned survive'. The stools combination of industrial concrete reinforcing steel and marble might just be a comment on Greece's contemporary building industry..........As usual with Greece is for Lovers products, the name itself is a work of art.  

‘Build Your Myth’ - a design from 2011. A set of Herculean dumbbells in solid brass. 

‘Build Your Myth’ - a design from 2011. A set of Herculean dumbbells in solid brass. 

Many of Greece is for Lovers products borrow the kitsch visual language of modern souvenirs but then inject them with worthy old world materials like brass, marble and leather. The 'Build your Myth' dumbbells created in 2011 are a case in point with their corny poorly proportioned Ionic column being cast in solid brass. 

‘Zeus!’ A letter opener named after Zeus, the bolt - throwing ruler of mount Olympus. In solid or silver–plated brass. 

‘Zeus!’ A letter opener named after Zeus, the bolt - throwing ruler of mount Olympus. In solid or silver–plated brass.