Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi ("MT") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.
MT : Ever since I was little, I was fascinated by the architecture of a city, a building, a space. Architecture starts from the design of a city and goes all the way to the design of furniture or objects. I have always been challenged by small scale architecture, architecture of small spaces, details and design solutions for all kinds of constructions. I studied Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and my thesis was on the area of Anafiotika in Athens. It is a place where every corner, every square meter makes a difference. Space is very limited and thus the furniture available in the market hardly fits in. This was, then, a design challenge for me regarding the “architecture and multi-functionality of furniture”. My long engagement in highly demanding private projects led me to the design of furniture, which I have been practicing along with architecture. The final boost to enter the production of design items was my work with manufacturing. It is very important for a designer to get involved in the production process of the item he/she has designed. In fact, that’s where the magic takes place; this exchange of ideas, research, design and execution, from the first stage to the last and all the way back, until a proper product is created, both aesthetically and functionally.
MT : Particularly fond of small space architecture and drawing solutions upon implementation, I decided to enter the field of industrial design and manufacture of everyday furniture, lightning fixtures and objects, thus establishing MA√|design products. My source of inspiration involves streets, old-stuff shops, warehouses, industries, construction sites, tradition, modern art, travels and music.
MT : It came up naturally as an outcome of my work on small space architecture. If you are forced to become a designer, it is quite unlikely to make it happen.
MT : I like designing mostly furniture and lighting fixtures which have a story to tell. This story can lie in the origin of the material or of the parts which make a product, meaning that they might be originating from some old piece of furniture which is not in use any longer or that might be designated for a different use but eventually end up in a new product. I also like multi-functional furniture which can fit in, equip or serve a very small space, but which can at the same time expand and be used as well in a much larger space. I like combining different styles from different eras, thus creating contemporary furniture with a “past”.
MT : I would say never be afraid to create, risk and dream and also to be armed with love and patience for what they have decided to do.
MT : One of the two has more imagination and wants and knows how to make it reality.
MT : A good design is what makes its user happy; a really good design is what makes its user really happy.
MT : Good design lasts in time longer. It helps us live in more comfort, at more ease and surrounded by beauty. Why not make the most out of these benefits?
MT : I would like to design a mobile shelter for refugees which could fit in or serve as a back pack so that they wouldn’t be affected by the weather conditions.
MT : To listen closely to people and the environment and to pursue your dreams.
MT : It’s the CAVA project. It is a smartly designed product as it can transform in many different ways by changing: 1/ use (wine rack, bar, shelving unit, side table, meal table, wine tasting table), 2/ size (from small floor wine rack to a synthesis which can cover the walls of a whole space such as a living room, a bar, a cellar etc) and 3/ looks (plexiglas, wood, marble and metal in endless combinations of colours and designs), depending on the user’s needs. It is collapsible and the special bottle holders made of pipe mountings allow the placement of bottles of any diameter or height.
MT : By loving what they do, daring to get exposed and once realizing it, to see it from a distance and perfect it.
MT : Design is creativity, good aesthetics, comfort, functionality, innovation, imagination and interaction with people.
MT : Μy two soulmates Giorgos Kontogeorgos and Maria Tsiligkiridi.
MT : Persistence, patience and love for what I do.
MT : With courage, modesty, self-confidence and honesty.
MT : Stories from the past will soon pop up…furniture, compositions, proposals for new spaces; but, since “a picture is worth a thousand words”, just stay tuned!
MT : Το make people happier!
MT : I am working on the renovation of a 1960’s house – an immigrants’ folk house in downtown Athens – to transform it to a home rental by maintaining and pointing out the paneling, the coatings, the framings and its extrovert character through the use of furniture of that period and on which I have applied restoration techniques, patina and collage in order to highlight those times through a more contemporary, fresh viewpoint.
MT : I would like to see more products from independent designers go into production as there are many beautiful and fresh ideas there.
MT : From one day to several months.
MT : From wherever I get better inspired; depending on the period of time and my mood. I like to feel free.
MT : “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
MT : There is no doubt that design sets the trends; and it cannot be otherwise in order for innovation and creativity to flourish.
MT : Technology makes everything a bit easier, faster and accessible.
MT : My sketchbook, a pencil, my Mac, Archicad, Photoshop an A1 plotter, an A3 scanner, my travel photo collection and of course sun, coffee and music!
MT : They are equally important as they shape a design product and attribute it a different form, appearance and texture. They are like three keys – whichever you turn will give you a different product.
MT : How did I come up with it.
MT : Great! How lucky they are the ones who will be using it. Well done to the one who conceived, designed and implemented it!
MT : The one who complements, trusts and appreciates me. Four eyes and four hands are always better than two!
MT : By putting a lot of personal effort and by reading; by working for several years with demanding clients; by focusing on manufacturing; by actively joining the field of product manufacturing in collaboration with talented individuals; and of course by travelling!
MT : Antoni Gaudí, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, M.C.Escher, Leonardo da Vinci, Mahatma Gandhi and many more that unfortunately I won’t be able to meet…
MT : I feel joy and satisfaction for the recognition of years of work. My goal is not to become famous, but to achieve the acceptance and satisfaction of the end user. That’s actually the reason behind the design of products; to be used by a user.
MT : I think that if I had to choose one of each, I would limit my imagination!
MT : One night, at the crack of dawn, I was in a space full of designs to be delivered, mock-ups etc. After long hours of work, I felt like having a drink. I decided to boil a rakomelo (traditional Greek drink made of raki and honey) and distracted and tired as I was, I fell asleep and the kettle caught fire! Luckily, my co-designer was there who started running after me and beating me with some cloths as I was rushing to the bathroom with the burning camping gas and kettle in my hands! Fortunately, we managed to put the fire off and no project was burned…Thinking of this story, we always laugh and ever since, when we have a lot of work, we have our drinks only with ice!
MT : By playing and listening to music; by traveling; by relaxing under the sun; by reading a good review about my work.
MT : I have to ask my mum ;)
MT : I am afraid that in a thousand years technology will have pushed people apart instead of bringing them closer.
MT : The traditional techniques and cultural heritage of each nation has a lot to tell; by listening closely, we will be able to create contemporary products more wisely.
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