I have been experimenting as a child with materials and constructions, sometimes risking even my physical safety. It was as if something triggered an idea that had to be realized by stretching its limitations to the opposite direction. At that time design was just an inner-raw drive, later it was refined by maturity and the influence of various aspects such as aesthetics, sociopolitics, economics, knowledge, education in a multidisciplinary background spatial sociology, architecture and design, research, industrial design.
Bllend is a multidisciplinary award-winning architectural design and research office, with projects ranging from residential to commercial, product design and design research. Its services span from concept design to complete 3D Architectural Design Identities. We follow a strongly human centered design approach that brings in the foreground the social impact of design on the society. The social impact of design cannot be quantified but its acknowledgment can open a path to improved quality of life through sustainable and justified solutions. A strong belief that we are more than the sum of our parts…so is our environment guides all project scales which commence from a thorough exploration and research informed design approach to form the concept design which then follows its route to realization. Concept and content are always enriched by local context, which can be redefined through an international architectural language.
Sustainability, eco- awareness and the educative power of design remain from the start our launching mottoes.
It is the creative path to evolution. To paraphrase WINSTON CHURCHILL’S quoting, ‘we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us’, I believe that design shapes our environment, which later transforms us. For example during Covid-19 lockdown, designers responded to an unprecedented extend, by listening to the problem, finding the niche, providing viable solutions and immediate relief covering the need for healthcare equipment. Regarding building, spatial and city planning all the data collected will have to be analysed in order to provide a creative input to design better spaces for social change, inclusion and accurate response to crisis.
Every type of work is a challenge; since it is a two way process between the initiator of the work and the design team, the whole process apart from the final result is often rewarding with unexpected dimensions.
Although all projects finally become part of us and we are deeply fond of them. To be quite frank, every design that has allowed us more flexibility for thought, exploration and improvisation is usually the most satisfying for all the stakeholders-designers and customers, or end users.
I particularly enjoy changing the aesthetics or stretching the limilts of natural materials like wood, stone and metal, while i have been very fond of innovative materials and surfaces that go beyond the limitations of natural materials, by providing advanced attributes and specifications.
It depends on the adherence to the desired and initial plan, but generally fulfillment and great satisfaction. The important thing is that i feel the same excitement when a design is approaching completion as my first design.
When the two way process between initiator and designer is equally satisfied. In the case of a commercial project the customer’s initial brief and the impact on the desired target group determine the successfull outcome.
It was Dining Watermarks, a Melting dining table that was exhibited at RE-Fresh exhibition during Back to Athens Festival in April 2013. A dining table may be seen as a typical inanimate furnishing item that takes its particular form and style owing to material choice, shape and texture. Dining Watermarks follows the symbolism and allegory of a permanently scarred table as that in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. The novel has been popular for being able to zoom in telescopically on the experience of black immigrants in America, but to also embrace and discuss love, loss, friendship and the search for identity. A watermark makes a strong statement of ownership and identity; a dining watermark may expose generation stories, scenes of love, loss and happiness. The original rectangular shape of the black dining table is liquefied with the assistance of CAD/CAM technology, while covered by plastic semitransparent pyramids that act as scars-fragments of memory on the table’s surface.
Travelling and cultural immersion mainly, which I used to do a lot in the past. A seminar or a conference can some time provide valuable feedback for thought and reflection, and a good excuse to visit another place or country.
I wouldn’t like to attach style labels- but it is a context and concept driven exploration that finds its way to realization via thorough research and a continuously evolving know-how. I want to refer to it as design personality which becomes more cultivated and refined, as time passes.
Definetely cultural heritage has a strong impact generally on our way of thinking.I feel my life in Far East (South Korea & China) has greatly affected my way of thinking and perception; therefore the way I design or my approach to various aspects of living is a blend of different cultural and background influences. That is why Bllend concept [blending light, landscape, environment and nature through design] clearly expressed my inner thoughts and approach to design.
Regarding living and working as a designer in my country, I feel that information technology and social networking has widened our ‘ways’, but there is still a long distance to progressive thinking and unbiased exploration of design capabilities and routes. And I am not talking about ‘seeds of thought and inspiration’ there are plenty of these; yet, even the best seed needs a fertile soil to grow...
Corporate identity and successful branding is a key aspect when a company is involved. Generally, the approach is different from working on a residential project. There is a lot of responsibility so simple matters of personal like or dislike will have to be set aside, in order to have a more unbiased approach to design. Researching, analyzing and constructing successful 3D architectural identities are vital to corporate design.
It is my strong belief that private residential projects can find their way to completion, despite construction or procedure mistakes. When companies are involved their design will have to be able to communicate effectively their corporate identity and their scope of existence in entrepreneurship. Then a designer will have to be hired in order to achieve the maximum; the designer’s portfolio and most importantly their educational background and appearance on the international stardom is very important for a successful choice.
Discussion, questionnaires, thought and analysis before starting to form an idea or concept. When working on private commissions we concentrate at the beginning a lot on data collection and analysis, word association and color perceptions quizzes that I have been taught at the Eisenmann Pantone Color Institute in the States, and developed through experience. When working with a company, especially when they don’t have a well-articulated corporate culture then, qualitative design research methodology is used in order to analyze their culture, translate it into a well- informed architectural design brief and then go on to crystallize the concept that will drive the design.
It is like travelling on an ice-braker. It is adventurous, dangerous, exciting trying to explore yet having to avoid to hit the iceberg. Everyone knows it is somewhere out there, but s(he) wants to be the one that manages to stir away not straight onto it.
Why a design is expensive, since it is only an abstract idea not solid materials. And I have to answer that a finished product is made of particular materials during pre-estimated manufacturing time. An idea, is not fixed in position waiting to be used, it may need a lot of time for thought, negotiation and continuous refining before crystallization, then drafting, finally rendering; yet, still needs thorough research on materials and available technology for cost and production time estimations.
All the projects provide me with important experience. Even projects that are difficult or not so satisfactory in terms of concept realization, the feedback of their design process turns out to be the most rewarding.
Design the scale, what gives me great satisfaction is when I deal with people that are open minded and receptive to exploration and innovation. Those projects turn to be very time consuming and demanding but the final outcome is the ultimate reward. Also, design work for product and architectural competitions has turned out to be productive and provides a lot of brainstorming for future projects and works.
We would like to work on projects abroad, an currently we are developing an enterpreneurship in Emirates and Russia.
Another project concerning sustainable architecture and recycling from unused materials, is on the Reseach & Development agenda with a big industry section in Greece, which despite its grand scale if realized it will be able to provide some poverty relief for homeless and unemployed.
We also started research three years ago on an abandoned building in Metalleia in Thassos Island, called Palataki (small Palace). We are trying to find some contacts with the Austrial Architectural firm that had designed it in order to make a proposal for its renovation as a metallurgy museum and a storyline for the german company that had built and used it as their corporate headquarters.
The mobile gallery is an interesting project which has been finished regarding design and development and will take effect later in the year.
We work on an innovative new brand in the field of plastic surgery, which comes to hit the ground in the field in terms of design and services. The First branch is under construction and ready for the photoshooting and press appearance by end of May. We have also finished all the plans for a luxury villa estate in Antiparos island, which is under construction and probably ready to be delivered end of Summer.
Moreover we are delivering by end of this month the first shop of a new brand Rook Cafe and Delicatessen, which enters a niche in very refined services for coffee and snack. Quality, style and health come in the foreground in an interior with very refined aesthetic value.
We will still continue to take part in international competitions, A’ DesignAward is one of them and we hope we will have more chances to contribute from our side to the promotion of socially aware design and architecture.
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