Alekos Fassianos’ Hellenic Designs Offer a Fanciful Take on Ancient Greece 

The simplicity of Greek classical and folk art was an eternal muse for the late artist Alekos Fassianos. Best known for his paintings, which blend ancient iconography and contemporary scenes in vibrant swashes of blue, red, and gold, his overtly Hellenic influences and signature palette also gave birth to a wide range of furniture designs. Carwan Gallery in Athens recently presented the first retrospective of these pieces, following the artist’s death last year, and they’re just as transportive and delightful as his 2D works.

Fassianos’ philosophy was that we should “never rest on our laurels, and always seize the day to make the most of the life ahead of us,” and therefore designed pieces for his family with practicality rather than comfort in mind. Hard, durable, utilitarian materials like wood, leather, and metals dominate his collection of seating, tables, lighting, painted ceramics, and other functional objects, yet all feel light and fanciful in appearance. Fassianos hated mass production, so each was hand-crafted by the artist with the help of master artisans. Carwan exhibited them as museum artifacts, and entered into a collaboration with Fassianos’s estate to reproduce limited editions for the first time.

The selection of originals — which are not for sale — includes acrylic-topped coffee tables supported by pillars formed from the extruded silhouettes of cartoon-like birds. These “legs” come in optimistic colors like bright red, and a light blue that isn’t too far off the Twitter logo. Avian motifs also appear in aluminum and bronze as shades for sconces, table, floor and pendant lights. Stylized faces shown in profile are incorporated into ceramic vases, which could be the heads of heroes from The Odyssey, and less obviously along the tops of chair backs. Meanwhile, ridges carved into the ends of armchair and sofa legs make them look a little like animal paws — little touches that bring character to each piece.