A disclaimer: Athens can be a beautiful city, with striking juxtapositions between ancient and modern architecture and sunshine on par with Los Angeles (check out this video for proof). But when seen through the eyes of the young design trio Greece Is For Lovers, who grew up there and now keep a studio at the foot of the Acropolis, the view isn’t quite so rosy. The idea behind their products — which invoke all manner of Athenian cliches, rendering Ionic columns as golden barbells and Hermes and Aphrodite as candles, in case “you wanna feel like King Nero and burn down some ancient stuff,” they say — is to reflect an outsider’s naive perspective on Greece, perpetuated by tourism campaigns like “Greece Is For Lovers” in the ’70s and “Build Your Myth” in recent years. On the other hand, when I asked member Christina Kotsilelou for an image to end this slideshow that reflected what the group truly loves about Athens, besides its ’80s shopping malls, she said I had them stumped. If they’re laughing at tourists, they’re also laughing along with them.
Either way, the following snapshots — taken by Kotsilelou, Vasso Damkou, and Thanos Karampatsos — do provide some insight into the trio’s work, which wallows in its own kitsch to delightful effect.
“I grew up going to pow-wows and stuff” isn’t the first thing you expect Annie Lenon to say as she’s puttering around the garden apartment and studio she shares with her boyfriend in a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene. But then you recall that the 25-year-old jewelry-maker and Pratt grad hails from Bozeman, a city of 27,000 located in the southwestern corner of Montana — a state that with its prairies and badlands and Indian reservations seems downright exotic to most New Yorkers — and you realize she’s working from an entirely different reference point.
When you arrive in Zürich, you arrive with a few certainties: The trams will run like clockwork, the city will be spotless, and at least a third of the population, it seems, will be carrying a Freitag messenger bag. During my weeklong stay in Switzerland this spring, the Freitag bag — with its recycled truck-tarp shell, seatbelt strap, and inner-tube edging — began to seem something like a national accessory.