Monday, March 31, 2008

Konstantinos Bhta : live at Liebe, Thessaloniki

Last night I was lucky to attend a great concert in Thessaloniki: Konstantinos Bhta (the last name is Vita for our English speaking readers, he just spells it like this) played in the Liebe club in Mylos complex. It was the first time I saw (and heard) him live, and I must say it was about time!

I was outside Liebe exactly at 21:00, the supposed starting time of the concert. But, as usual, the doors were not even open. I got my ticket there (20 Euros, same price as in pre-sale at the record shops, and two Euros cheaper than the internet price) and waited. There were some people waiting outside but not many.

The doors opened around 21.15. I went inside and secured a place at the bar, so that I could stand easily and also not be pushed by people (ha, little did I know).
The venue: Liebe is basically the old Mylos Club, a place where I have seen The Creatures (Siouxsie rulezzz) and others in the past. Now it is a dance club, owned by one of the prominent radio DJs of Thessaloniki, Nikos Portokaloglou. The place could use the help of a decorator, it looks shabby and as if no one actually cared for it's design. From the promotion the place is getting on the radio I was expecting something different, I was wrong. And the prices are exorbitant, I paid 8 Euros for a bottle of beer (on top of my ticket), which I consider a blatant theft. One thing is for sure, I'm not going back for more.

The concert started at 22.15, with Netrina, an Electronica group (with members such as Kostas Giannikopoulos, a long time collaborator of Konstantions Bhta in his recordings), who played three tracks. Then Konstantinos came onstage with his collaborators (Vaios Mahmoundes on keyboards, Kostas Giannikopoulos and Kostas Skaltsas of Netrina plus a young guy on guitar whose name escapes me). They started a bit awkward but soon felt the warmth of the crowd and felt surer about their music, displaying to us all their talent.

They played songs both from Konstantinos' solo works and Stereonova albums, almost all the crowd favourites like "Klemmeno Podilato" (Stolen Bike), "Kyma" (Wave), "Proastia" (Suburbs), "Opalita", "Soma" (Body), "Pornostar", "Exostis" (Balcony), "Astronaftis" (Austronaut), "Taksidi Sti Gi" (Journey to Earth) which was repeated at the encore with Konstantinos playing just his guitar and singing, "Pote Pote Pote De Tha Gino Filos Sou" (I will never never never be your friend) and others. The set was just shy of two hours, but we definitely wanted more - he played only one encore, asking us what to play next. He was in a good mood, smiling and thanking us all the time. It looked like the band enjoyed the concert as much as we did, which is precisely the point for me.

The funny thing is that there were people there that looked totally out of place. There were many times that people passing before me obviously belonged to some "skyladiko" (popular Greek music club of the lowest denominator) and not this concert, all coiffed and high - heeled and wearing cocktail attire (i do not mind this as long as it is for somewhere else and not an electronica concert). Obviously they found out about Konstantinos from his work for Dimitris Papaioannou's "2" or from the heavy promoting of his latest album on a Greek TV channel (Alter), it is so "fashionable" to listen to Konstantinos now. My suspicions were confirmed when these people started leaving the venue soon after the concert had started or, the last of them, after he played the "2" tracks and he was obviously not playing another from that work. That's the price of popularity I guess. Nevermind, I had a great time and so did most of the people present, the ones who know Konstantinos' work and came here for all of it, not just the recent stuff. I hope he comes back soon!

Konstantinos website:
His Myspace:

Small Blue Thing

To start the week off! Thanks to Po Po Culture!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Vassilis Papatsarouchas

When, back in January, I had the pleasure to supervise the set up of the 1st Children's and Young Adult's Bookfair in Athens, I was privileged to meet, amongst other talented people, one of Greece's most prominent illustrators: Vassilis Papatsarouchas.

From Peter & The Wolf

Vassilis Papatsarouchas was born in 1975 in Athens (in Perissos). He studied Painting and Graphic Arts at the Athen's School Of Fine Arts. He has participated in many collective exhibitions with paintings, constructions and video art. Up to now he has illustrated almost forty books, three of which were also written by him. Amongst his awards, he received in 2004 the State Award of Illustration for the book "Little Red Riding Hood", an adaptation by Argyro Kokoreli, in the same year he also got the 1st award from the Greek division of IBBY for illustrating "Chrysoula" by Lila Patroklou.

From Peter & The Wolf

This year, he is nominated for the Andersen Award for Illustration. The Andersen Awards are international awards given for children's literature and are very prestigious. Vassilis' talent is so obvious, it surely was a matter of time before his nomination for such an award was announced.

From The Wizard Of Oz

His latest work is for the"The Twelve Little Red Riding Hoods and The Clockwork Wolf" book, an ingenious sequel to the original childhood tale by Christos Bouliotis. The superb, surreal illustrations of Vassilis Papatsarouchas add to the quirky storyline, making the world of the twelve twin sisters seem more real to the book's readers, transporting them into a world full of fantasy and imagination.

From The Twelve Little Red Riding Hoods and The Clockwork Wolf

His style is completely original. Idiosyncratic and rule-breaking, he combines high-brow seriousness with childish fun, all in a modern context. His use of colour, combined with minimal lines and intense perspectives, contributes in making the storyline stand out.

From The Cat Leopold At The Art School

His illustrations have graced editions of "The Wizard Of Oz", "Peter And The Wolf", "The Clown's Magical Umbrella" (also written by him), "The Notebook Of Coincidences", "Pinocchio In Athens", "The Mystery of Anomvrida", "Don Quixote", "One Love, Seven Colours And A Wolf" (collection), "Chrysoula", "Mitsogatos in the Open Market", "The Cat Leopold at the Art School", "The Ghost Of Prince Gelastroni", "And Tell Me About Your Toys", "A Forest For Thirteen" (collection), "The Sleeping Button-y" (written by him), "You'll See, You'll Like It", "The Clown's Magic Umbrella" (written by him), "Dorilenia", "The Him", "Stories That Nobody Knows", "The Show Starts... Now", "Schooner Corallia", "The Tale Is...", "The Abduction of Princess Hammock", "Six Small Big Tales" (collection), "Parsifal", "No To The Mutated Bad Wolf", "Pizza Strawberry", "The Boy That Drew Goblins", "Bliah", "Hop O' My Thumb", "Pinocchio And the Discobolus Statue", "Pinocchio Torch-bearer", "Jack And The Bean-Stalk", "Games With The Wolf", "Panic in The Geometry Land", "The Coincidence Notebook", and others.

All photos were taken by me during the Bookfair last January and they do not do any justice to Vassilis' talent. I promise to make up for this by scanning some images off his books and putting them up in a future post.

UPDATE: Unfortunately Vassilis did not win the Andersen Award this year, but I am sure he will in the future!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Uma Thurman: a goddess incarnate

The print cover

The web splash page

Amazing photographs from Another Magazine. With butterflies as inspiration, Craig McDean shoots Uma like never before. Feast your eyes!

Tuxedo jacket and white shirt by Dolce & Gabbana.
Bow-tie by Ralph Lauren.
Jewelled leather belt by Fendi.

Hairstylist is Sam McKnight, one of my favourites from the eighties, the man behind the geometric + sculpted hair look so characteristic of that era.

Metal snake arm bracelet by Early Haloween

She mentions in the magazine interview that being photographed "it's not really your style. Whether it's Another Magazine, Vogue or Baazar. In the same way, you end up playing a part".

Sequinned jacket by Maison Martin Margiela

Silk dégradée dress and metallic belt by Alexander McQueen

Even the graphics of the magazine are bold and beautiful!

Photographer: Craig McDean
Styling: Tabitha Simmons
Hairstylist: Sam McKnight @ Premier
Make up: Diane Kendall @ Art + Commerce
Manicure: Joanna Czech
Photographer's assistants: Chris Ferretti, Huan Nguyen
Styling Assistant: Tracey Nicholson
Prop Stylist: Stefan Beckmann @ Exposure
Retouching: The Box Ltd.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Drew Barrymore's office - colour galore!

The US edition of Domino magazine has actress and entrepreneur Drew Barrymore's production company offices as their cover story for April. She hired designer Ruthie Sommers to help her decorate and the results, while not my cup of tea style wise, are great:stylish, elegant and very personal (as all great interior design should be).

The reason it stands out for me is the use of colour: bold, ingenious and eccentric, it makes each room of the building stand out, while acting as a great background for furniture and accessories.

The kitchen

The concept was named "un-office": a space looking more like a home-away-from-home, chic, relaxed and reflecting each partner΄s personality. The office incorporates an eclectic collection of styles and artefacts.

The "powder room"

I also liked the quirky use of personal items and furniture, like the old record player in a suitcase in the pic below:

I really dig Chris Miller's office space. He is the production vice-president of Flower Films. His favorite feature is a recess in the L-shaped room that Sommers turned into a bar. "It really is fun," he says. "And on a bad day, that I-could-have-a-whiskey thought is a serious comfort."

Chris Miller΄s minimal desk - get me one!

The bar corner at Miller's office.

The wall covered with numerous pictures is amazing - it really gives me ideas...

Drew is looking lovely in the photo spread and it seems that everyone working there must be enjoying the new décor - and why shouldn΄t they:

Check out the use of brown and beige/gold at the photos above left-looks great!

The photo below shows the entrance corridor - the amazing red door with an antique door knob makes a bold statement. I hope you all enjoyed peeking at Drew΄s office as much as I did!

Footnote: compare the above with the Greek edition...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chocolate Pencils: yummy writing!

Pencils are an essential tool for most designers. We doodle with them all the time, even when doing other things then design (like talking on the phone or being in a meeting). We pick them carefully, choose those who fit our style and work method, take good care of them until they become unusable.
Another favourite staple of mine: chocolate! I cannot imagine living without it, it is one of the things I always have in my house and love giving it as a gift to friends and loved ones.
So imagine my surprise at finding something that combines these seemingly totally irrelevant things into one: chocolate pencils.

These are the brainchild of Japanese architect and designer Oki Sato and the famous japanese patissiere Tsujiguchi Hironobu, the man behind Tokyo's dessert shops Mont St. Claire and Le Chocolat de H. He created a new dessert based on his impression of Nendo after conversations with Oki Sato and his team, so then they designed new tableware for Hironobu. The concept was to have the plates show off the beauty of meals and desserts like a painting on a canvas.

Based on this idea, the "chocolate pencils" come in a number of cocoa blends that vary in intensity, and chocoholics can use the special "pencil sharpener" that comes with the plate to grate chocolate onto their dessert. Pencil filings are usually the unwanted remains of sharpening a pencil, but in this case, they're the star!


via The Style Files

Monday, March 17, 2008


In Greece gays, lesbians and transsexuals know about discrimination. Many of them face it daily from their families, in their social lives and in the professional field.
But sometimes, all it takes is a single straw to break the camel's back.
According to press reports, the Greek government is preparing to introduce a domestic partnership "contract" EXCLUSIVELY for unmarried heterosexual couples. We do not believe that a mere "contract" can resolve the issues same-sex couples face or ensure their fair treatment under the law. However this discriminatory proposal is a direct contravention of the greek Constitution, as well as European human rights treaties. Especially since same-sex couples already enjoy legal rights in 18 European nations.
The aim of this intervention is to make sure that European institutions, human rights organisations, websites and weblogs from around the world learn about these proposals. What we ask for is equal rights for all. Nothing more and nothing less.
This time around we will not sit idly by. This time around we will not keep silent.


Στην Ελλάδα οι γκέι, οι λεσβίες και οι τρανσέξουαλ γνωρίζουν από διακρίσεις. Αρκετοί απ' αυτούς τις αντιμετωπίζουν καθημερινά στην οικογένεια, την κοινωνική ζωή και τον επαγγελματικό στίβο.

Καμιά φορά όμως φτάνει μια σταγόνα για να ξεχειλίσει το ποτήρι.

Σύμφωνα με δημοσιεύματα του τύπου το Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης ετοιμάζεται να καθιερώσει ένα "συμβόλαιο συμβίωσης" ΑΠΟΚΛΕΙΣΤΙΚΑ για τα ετερόφυλα ζευγάρια. Δεν θεωρούμε ότι ένα απλό "συμβόλαιο" μπορεί να λύσει τα ζητήματα των ζευγαριών ίδιου φύλου, ούτε να εξασφαλίσει την ισότιμη μεταχείρισή τους. Πιστεύουμε όμως ότι η προτεινόμενη διάκριση είναι κατάφωρα αντίθετη τόσο με το ελληνικό Σύνταγμα όσο και με τις ευρωπαϊκές συνθήκες για τα δικαιώματα του ανθρώπου. Πόσο μάλλον όταν 18 ευρωπαϊκές χώρες ήδη παρέχουν νομική κατοχύρωση στα ζευγάρια ίδιου φύλου.

Σκοπός αυτής της πρωτοβουλίας είναι να ενημερωθούν σχετικά οι ευρωπαϊκοί θεσμοί, οι οργανώσεις για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, ιστοσελίδες και ιστολόγια σε όλο τον κόσμο. Αυτό που ζητάμε είναι ίσα δικαιώματα για όλους. Τίποτα παραπάνω, τίποτα λιγότερο.

Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα μείνουμε σιωπηλοί. Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα κάτσουμε με σταυρωμένα χέρια.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The girl in the elm tree: Alexander Mc Queen's Fall 2008-2009 collection

One of my favourite fashion designers is Alexander McQueen. The enfant terrible of fashion manages to make each collection seem better than the last, managing to transport you to a unique, fantasy world, but firmly based in harsh reality. Only a very talented person can do that, season after season, while keeping his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

No surprise then, that this season΄s collection, presented in Paris on the 29th of February, was a tour de force for McQueen. Many say it was his best ever. I do not know if that is true. What I do know is that, while watching photo after photo of his amazing designs, I was left with my mouth gaping with astonishment, marvelling at the excellence and brilliance of his talent.

I will post here the review of Sarah Mower from, who sums it up in words far better than I ever could.

The one element that has gone missing in the collections is the spine-tingling, eye-welling emotion of a show so exceptional to witness that—despite all exhaustion, cynicism, and workaday pressures—it suddenly transforms being involved in fashion into a magical privilege. Just when it seemed like that feeling was virtually extinct, Alexander McQueen handed his audience a self-imagined fantasy of crinolined princesses and British-colonial romance of such beauty, it arguably surpassed anything he's achieved in 14 years.

"I've got a 600-year-old elm tree in my garden," he said, "and I made up this story of a girl who lives in it and comes out of the darkness to meet a prince and become a queen." After a trip to India, the designer worked like a fiend for months in his studio, with images of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and the Indian Empire running through his mind.

They were transformed into ballerina-length multi-flounced dance dresses, each more insanely exquisite than the last: A miraculous red-feather-fronted number turned to burst into a froth of creamy frills in back; another came covered in baby-fine knitted lace; a third had a pair of peacocks—again fashioned from cut out black lace—with their tail feathers fanning out over ivory tulle petticoats.

Interspersed were rigorously cut military tailcoats with taut pants detailed with military frogging, and slim brocade and cloque pantsuits with crisp white high-necked shirts. Then there was a stately parade of imperial-red and velvet jackets bedecked with millions of dollars' worth of antique Indian diadems and diamond neckpieces, and yet more incredible rich Empire-line saris and wispy dishabille transparencies.

These were followed by a sequence of gold-encrusted, ermine-coated glory, echoing the heyday of Norman Hartnell and Hardy Aimes' fifties British couture as worn by Elizabeth II.

Whatever had triggered this new lease of inspired design, it went further than the mere rendition of fanciful costume for the sake of telling a story. Importantly, McQueen finally found it in himself to quash the confining, uptight carapace that had held back former collections, replacing it with a new sense of lightness and femininity.

Meanwhile, for all the transporting spectacle and extravagance, the narrative never submerged the sense that, within this wonder, there's plenty to wear, too. No coincidence, then, that McQueen today announced that his company has gone into profit for the first time. It was a day when his brilliance had never shone more brightly.

Regarding the gown seen above, John Galliano had done a similar dress for Dior years ago but that had only a feathered corset, while this goes all the way into aviary fantasy.

His mix of Directoire and India inspirations is amazing as seen above. The imperial influence and colours are evident in the gown below.

McQueen is an arch romantic - albeit one with a hard streak - but this show focused on his softer side, Exactly the combination I love. And he seems never to be restrained by the commercial aspect of his work.

It is good then that his company announced they have just managed to turn profitable. It means that his talent can continue to soar at dizzying heights without worrying about making clothes for every day consumption. Because we all need the touch of a fairy tale in our every day lives from time to time.

All photos by Marcio Madeira, courtesy of

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Where does a Blue Frog swim?

Answer: in Mumbai of course! Designed from architectural firm Serie, a new entertainment space that creates new dynamics in the staid world of night entertainment establishments.

One might never think India as a place to find pioneering interior design, but things are changing fast all around the world and the vast exotic country is no exception.

A large north lit industrial warehouse within the old mill district in Mumbai is converted into a complex of sound recording studios and an acoustic lounge. This lounge will consist of a restaurant, bar and a live stage. Beyond this amalgamation of provisions, Blue Frog seeks to stage an acoustic experience par excellence.

Based on this desire to have it all, the question is: how do you collapse a theatre, restaurant, bar and club into a warehouse whilst maintaining all the performance characteristics of each individual type?

The deep structure that was employed is of a cellular organization composed of circles of varying sizes in plan approximating a horse-shoe configuration.

The differential extrusions of these circles encapsulated at different levels as tiered cylindrical seating booths, allow the eye level of diners and standing patrons to be distributed across staggered levels that increase in height away from the stage.

These booths seat between 4-10 people and are arranged around an open centre that can either double up as a potential 360 degree stage or accommodate standing patrons, bringing them closer to the main stage to create an intimate viewing experience.

These mahogany panelled cylindrical booths maintain not only uninterrupted views to the stage, but also constant distance between diners irrespective of how crowded the lounge gets.

The undulating height of the seating booths is gently modulated by a glowing acrylic resin surface, ...

... which unifies the disparate types together and retains the presence of the architecture even in the midst of the spectacle of a state-of-the-art sound and light show at the Blue Frog.

Client: Blue Frog Media Pvt. Ltd
Area: 1000 sqm
Duration: October2006- November 2007

Design: Chris Lee / Kapil Gupta

Project Team: Tomas Ruis Osborne, Santosh Thorat, Purva Jamdade, Suril Patel, Dharmesh Thakker, Niti Gourisaria, Vrinda Seksaria and Udayan Mazumdar.
Acoustic Design: Munroe Acoustics (UK)
Lighting Design: Abhay Wadhwa Associates
Project Management: Masters Management Consultants
General Contractor: Zigma Enterprises

And a bit about Serie:

Formerly Chris Lee Architects and Contemporary Urban, Serie is an international practice based in London and Mumbai. Serie works in the diverse field of architecture, urbanism and design.

The practice is fascinated by the evolution and mutation of building types in today’s cities and the projection of these forms of intelligence into spatial solutions. Working typologically, or in our terms, thinking and exploring in series - harnessing the cumulative intelligence of building types - is key to the work of Serie.

The practice consistently pushes the boundaries of architectural and master planning projects worldwide and provides full architecture and master planning services for private and public sectors.