The original idea was conceived, as many good ideas usually are, between friends over lunch at Thission. Three creative offices, talking about the Psyrri area of Athens, design and the teams gathered in that area and its surroundings. An idea that became a reality in January 2007 for the very first time. All participating offices would open their doors to visitors for three days. People from every strata of society could see their work, their surroundings and ideas and projects, talk with them and find out about creative people and their way to work! Showing projects created especially for this event, they could give their very best and have no limit to their creativity. I could not experience it that first time (and was so jealous of those who did), but this year I made it.
As the concept was collaboration, each participating office could bring one or more collaborators from Greece or abroad and make a common project. This proved to be a genius idea, as it allowed creative people from outside of Psyrri and Greece in particular, to participate. Secondly it gave everyone the chance to do their very best, proving that a great collaboration can yield excellent results far easier than one mind working alone.
Our first stop was at the Typical Mutations offices. They had Makebelieve as their partner in crime... and yes, it was a crime that we, the visitors, were asked to solve: Maria Roussou from Makebelieve was a suspect of killing Panagiotis Chatzidakis from Typical Mutations.
We had a briefing and then inspected the cleverly designed crime scene.
Then we were given some clues:
With the use of technological novelties such as mixed and augmented reality installations alongside visual and traditional techniques, we had to decide whether Maria was guilty or not.
The results of the collective investigation were published the very next day in a specially designed web site. One of the most original and funny presentations!
Then we were on for another treat: the collaboration between Poor Designers and Dimitris Arvanitis, one of the pioneers of Greek graphic design.
Their theme was centered around a visual commentary, in a highly creative way, of Society and Hypocrisy. It was the most (if not the only) political work presented in the studios I visited.
The messages were strong and clear, usually infused with irony. The atmosphere was great and you felt you were in the company of old friends (in fact we met a couple of friends there!).
One of the highlights must have been the visit of Freddie Karabott and Michalis Kantzourakis, two living legends of Greek Graphic design. Surely a day to remember! (Their exhibition, Design Routes, curated by Dimitris Arvanitis, will be presented in another post).
And the photo below to give you an idea of the crowds inside the office:
Then it was on to Design Shop, two floors below. The team here collaborated with French graphic designer Xavier Antin.
"The experience of being human" was presented by a non-linear, graphic installation, activating visitors' participation, providing them with clues, asking them to "connect the dots", in order to get the meaning.
This installation dealt with basic issues that define human identity, such as friendship, companionship, sexuality, vanity etc. I also found the surroundigs great! Kudos!
Then it was on to The Switch Design Agency, collaborating with Fabio Novembre, the famous Italian designer.
This team recently moved their offices from the second floor of the building they were in, to the third. This left an empty space that could be used in a number of ways. What could these be? The collaboration resulted in the concept USP (Useful Spaces in Psyrri).
The alternative uses of the space aim to contribute to the quality of life in the centre of Athens, taking under consideration the cultural elements, the urban environment and the current state of the Psyrri area.
The result was ten concepts for using the space, while at the same time visitors could vote for their favourite concept AND also propose new ones! It was an amazing idea, with great execution in pristine white surroundings with a touch of black and green.
Then on to a collaboration of graphics and fashion: Sereal Designers and fashion designers WALM, set up an iconoclastic game, starting with the forms that emerge from the counterpoint between the human body and its surroundings.
Setting up the Amazing Humanoid Circus, they recreated their forms in 3d, in a way that dilutes the sense of reality, uniting graphics and fashion in a changing project, aiming to give shape and essence to the (non-)existing.
It was great fun seeing all the colourful graphics created with the fashions as inspiration (and usually being part of them). A huge circular aquarium occupied the centre of the space, doubling as a fantastically big magnifying lens. The magnetic paper dolls provided hours of entertainment!
Moving on, as the night fell, to a trio of collaborators: Bend (Black & Decker), Designpark and No Logo!
All three involve themselves with graphic design as well as audiovisual projects. The result was the combination of them in various forms, presented at B Station, the transmission space for all three teams.
The space was like a makeshift club, with people being asked to make their own posters with various typographic methods, while they were being filmed.
The film was projected live on the windows of the building, making the experience go out to the streets of Psyrri.
I loved the raw feel of the space, the amazing desks and the energy in everyone while making great art to take home with them! The music was great too (Nektarios at the decks below).
Our final destination was the offices of G, collaborting with Company from the UK.
The concept here was very concise: The cogs. Cogs of a cogwheel, positioned parallel, tilted or t an angle to each other. They ensure safe function, correct gear ratio, ability to withstand the pressure of overloading, long shelf life and therefore offer a great degree of satisfaction!
To make the idea of cogs and collaboration a little bit more concrete, there was a great table in the middle of the room, with lots of blank pages ready to be transformed by the visitors into works of art, custom-made posters for the event itself. Using stencil cogs and coloured pencils and markers, people drew and drew and drew, having fun and collaborating!
I am really sorry we did not have the time to visit the rest of the participating teams. I hope next year I can make it to all of them. But here is the list of those we did not have the time to see:
3 in a Box (GR) + Stylo Design (UK)
Bios (GR) + Belio (ESP) + Raster-Noton (GER)
Mnp (GR) + Ed Gill (UK)
Mums Design (GR) + Maria Alipranti (GR)
Oxy (GR) + Eggandspoon (GR)
Pi6 (GR) + Human Empire (GER)
We Design (GR) + Nobek Zeistein (USA)
Photos by Maria Roussou, Dimitrios Kanellopoulos, Design Shop, The Switch Design Agency, Bend, Rena Nikolaidou.