Athens has been on people's mind for a while now, and not only for its low cost of living, beautiful landmarks and charming climate. Creative projects have been sprouting everywhere over the past years, and we decided to meet some of the people who make Athens the intriguing city that it is today.
First up are Konstantinos Pantazis and Marianna Rentzou, who founded architecture studio Point Supreme in 2008 in Rotterdam before moving back to their home city. We met up in their unique home, the Petralona house, on a casual wednesday afternoon.
We were living abroad for about 10 years after our studies, trying to experience and learn from different countries and offices. We spent most of that time in Holland because the architecture scene was very strong. In the evening after work, we started to do a little bit of personal work. That is how the studio was born.
The fact that we were outside Athens, that we were seeing things from outside helped us take this decision. I don’t know if we would have taken it if we had been living here.
BACK TO THE ROOTS
While being abroad for all these years, we started to miss Athens, to appreciate it very much and to realize what is so special about it. We wanted to do projects that would address this uniqueness and would communicate to the rest of the people.
Many of our first projects were projects for the city and for Greece. It was not buildings or interiors, but it was urban proposal for public spaces in Athens.
Point Supreme comes from the second surrealist Manifesto by Andre Breton, who was saying that there is a moment that he called « le point supreme » where there are no contradictions anymore.
"It’s what happens in dreams,
where dead and alive things,
big and small all come together"
CONTRADICTIONS & OPPOSITES
We are not interested in minimalism or clean, mono-functional situations, but rather in contradictions, opposite things coming together, and richness. Our style is very inclusive. We don’t follow one style or have any preference between styles. We are extremely open to anything. People tend to have particularities, and we really don’t care… We lived in very different circumstances and countries without having money. We learned to become very adaptive and flexible.
Too often architects are too colorless, with white, grey spaces and buildings. We always try to make sure that there are colors and a clear statement.
"We like to create spaces that are emotional"
It was the crisis so we didn’t have much commission work. We didn’t have money to do the house so we invented a way to do it by asking for sponsorship from companies. We told them the project was probably going to be published and advertised.
We had set up the base of the house, but everything happened during the construction. We were always bringing new ideas. The point is that we built it ourselves. We got the materials, we glued the tiles, we didn’t have any constructor… We also did the concrete; Marianna’s brother is a civil engineer and her father did all the ironwork.
"It’s a family project and that was super unique"
"In Athens, you don’t plan"
You don’t know what’s going to happen on the streets when you go out, you don’t have a schedule. Everything is always available and open so there are always a lot of choices.
In some ways it is very old school. It’s a little bit like in previous times. Technology has become such a huge part of life abroad. Everything happens online, e-books and all that. Here, we are still very free from that.
ART FROM THE HEART
Athens has a particularity, so it’s very interesting for us to be in this place and work in it. There are so many things that provide inspiration, and so many things to address and to propose solutions and alternatives for. Sometimes this is considered normal that after a crisis, there’s a lot of art happening because there’s a lot of things to comment on and to react to. It’s because things are not prescribed.
Artists don’t have companies or sponsors to follow and respect. People are very free to do whatever they want. That’s why there’s a lot of art in Athens, and especially the kind of art that doesn’t need a big budget to happen, like street art or graffiti. Very often people work without payment. They are detached from profit and the kind of responsibilities it gives you. People are just doing things to express ideas or beliefs.
Thanks to Marianna and Konstantinos for receiving us.
Words by Camille Darroux
Pictures by Victoria Nossent