The Boundary-Pushing Designers of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki's vibe has helped a handful of pioneering creative individuals develop a thriving and innovative design scene.


RED CREATIVE

Founded: In 1989, by Simos Saltiel.

Projects include: Sani Resort and Sani Festival, Halkidiki.

We spoke with: Costas Kalogirou, who helped Stergios Delialis in the creation of the Design Museum of Thessaloniki, and who joined the Red Creative team in 1996. Since then, he has also taught graphic design at Athens College, the International Hellenic University and the Applied Art Studies (AAS) College of Thessaloniki.

My city: “The city’s pace is still pleasant. The good thing about Thessaloniki is it’s a small market, which allows our work to show. In the ‘90s and the ‘00s in particular, we proved that we can produce fresh and often edgy ideas. Designers, however, aren’t like artists working for themselves; they need clients to help them unfold their ideas.”

My work: “Thessaloniki’s design community itself has started getting over the White Tower and Alexander the Great. It has said ‘enough with that’ and is looking for new ways to ‘sell’ Thessaloniki.”

Website: redcreative.gr

BEETROOT

Founded: In 2000, by Vagelis Liakos, Alexis Nikou and Yiannis Charalambopoulos.

Projects include: The Greek Monsters traveling exhibition, The Onassis Cultural Center’s visual identity and the 2014 election campaign of Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris. In 2008, it was named Design Agency of the Year at the European Design Awards and, in 2011, it was similarly honored at the renowned Red Dot Communication Design Awards.

We spoke with: Co-founder Yiannis Charalambopoulos.

My city: “Even though we live here and are committed to loving the standard of living, we don’t get work in Thessaloniki. We recently opened a new branch in London and already had one in Athens. In Greece, demand for ‘Greekness’ in product identity is on the rise and here in Thessaloniki, the most frequent request is for the Mermaid or the White Tower – they’re like this city’s evzone!”

My work: “It’s not the wrapping we need to change in Greece, it’s the product. The rebranding of a city or a country needs someone to take responsibility and hire an expert company (this is not something that can be achieved cooperatively) that will do nothing but this.”

Website: beetroot.gr

SEMIOTIK

Founded: In 2012, by Dimitris Koliadimas.

Projects include: Euroleague Basketball Final Four 2016.

We spoke with: Founder Dimitris Koliadimas.

My city: “This city is very conducive to a designer’s life – you save time and energy because it’s easy. At the same time, it is becoming a tourism destination, thanks to its cultural and culinary legacies. The museums are starting to understand the concept of design. The city has opened up to the world and in many parts resembles Berlin or Athens. The beautiful and elegant has become casual. Thessaloniki is no longer self-referential; it constantly imports and exports intellect.”

My work: “The Acropolis, the Presidential Guard and the White Tower are exhausted themes. I am interested in interpreting tradition, not reproducing it as is.”

Website: semiotikdesign.com

Dimitris Papazoglou

Founded: In 2014, by Dimitris Papazoglou.

Projects include: Nike, National Library of Greece, and the 57th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF 2016). We spoke with: Dimitris Papazoglou.

My city: “Thessaloniki as a design capital may be a myth – after all, it’s unfair on our colleagues in Athens and other cities to claim this title. However, we do have a lot of new award-winning designers and design is an intrinsic part of Thessaloniki, which has a long history in it. Let’s not forget that we had some of the greatest cultural venues and that some of the greatest pockets of literature and Greek rock music started here. In the past few years, we’ve been getting a lot more work from state agencies, museums and businesses.”

My work: “I am concerned by the notion of ‘Greekness’ in contemporary Greek design. You can’t single out one or two elements to define us. Everything always depends on the project you are undertaking and the market you’re targeting.”

Website: dimitrispapazoglou.com

BLIND DESIGN STUDIO

Founded: In 2014, by Haris Karatzas, Nikos Taousanis and Panagiotis Hatzis, all former students of Costas Kalogirou at the AAS College.

Projects include: CERN 27km in 27 photographs.

We spoke with: Co-founder Haris Karatzas.

My city: “From a visual perspective, Thessaloniki has something that all graphic designers like. The fact that you can always see or feel the water plays a role. For years, though, it had a very non-functional branding as an exclusively Christian city. It was a city known for the wrong reasons. This has started to change. It is finding the look that suits it, and it’s building on that. It knows that by opening up to the world, even small can work well.”

My work: “I am personally skeptical about the word ‘inspiration.’ Design is a constant balancing act between art and technique. I know that living in Greece today is practically madness. But this can create bonds, if it doesn’t screw everything up. There’s a weird sense of satisfaction in the daily, difficult task of being here.”

Website: blindstudio.gr

FROM THESSALONIKI

Founded: In 2016, by Evangelia Giapountzi and Athanasia Tsoukala.

We spoke with: Co-founder Evangelia Giapountzi.

My city: “Every time we’d come back from a trip to a big Western city, we’d ask ourselves: ‘Why don’t we have a shop like that here?’ So, we decided to create From Thessaloniki, selling souvenirs made here, like T-shirts from the designer Yiannis Karlopoulos, lighting fixtures from dimmer, the lighting design company, and games based on the ancient gods and made by My Greek Games (Efi Karagouni and Christos Papachristou).”

My work: “I’m very proud of the fact that we started this store, and not only to showcase our own designs but also those of brilliant artists working in this city and in the rest of the country.”

Website: fromthessaloniki.gr

HELLOFROM

Founded: In 2017, by Konstantinos Drakotis.

We spoke with: Founder Konstantinos Drakotis.

My city: “Thessaloniki is a city of memories, with a multicultural background, an urban culture and a cultural history. We want to establish the souvenir as a reminder of an experience in this city, which is why our products are based on the three notions of country, city and memory. Our concept space – with the only product created by Coco-Mat that is sold outside the company’s own sales network, its amazing wooden bicycle, and with design creations by the design firm Beetroot (that also created the shop’s visual identity) – is a venue that aspires to become a guardian of Thessaloniki’s memories.”

My work: “The souvenir market is an impulse market. You don’t buy a T-shirt because you’re short on T-shirts; you buy it to remind you of something. We keep classic Greece, that beautiful Greece, and redesign it with designers for products that are conceived – if not made – in Greece.”

Website: hellofrom.gr


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