I spotted “The Concrete Cities: Athens (Fragments)” by A Future Perfect at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February, and again at Ventura Lambrate in Milan, and loved the use of concrete as well as such a simple and graphical way of representing a city. I pinned down designers Katerina Grigoropoulou and Evi Sougara to find out more…
What’s the most important thing to know about you as designers?
That we are actually architects! This is our background, so we bring along within our design the love for architectural materials such as concrete, the need to scale down and reinvent patterns, shapes and structures found in natural and artificial environments into objects, just like we scale these up in architectural projects,
our interest in the city fabric and urban elements and the need to add context to the function and form of a design. We founded A Future Perfect in order to present these experimentations with concepts, materials and scales.
What inspires you?
The materiality of the world we live in, the tradition of our country… and addictive design blogs!
How do you overcome creative block?
By revisiting sketchbooks, papers and notes from creative inspiration periods. Sketches and ideas that were created or got stuck in an earlier state can prompt a creative solution or inspire a new idea when revisited after a while…
Where did the idea for Concrete Cities come from?
It all started last spring, when we participated in the design exhibition ‘It’s all oh so souvenir to me” among young Greek designers exploring the notion of the contemporary Greek souvenir. We thought of the map of the city’s centre as a very important object for a traveller, and decided to transform it into an everyday object that would encapsulate the memories of the visit, the walks, the places, the fun and experiences. And that object was a coaster. Inspired from the materiality of Athens, we created a set of six concrete coasters with a relief of the city’s centre on their surface, The Concrete Cities: Athens (Fragments.)
The idea is simple: we propose a universal design souvenir for the modern traveller and also the city lover, and The Concrete Cities represent the contemporary urban living, dense, compact, “concrete”, yet, with so many different textures, details, “fragments” that make each one unique to their visitors and inhabitants.
Athens, Stockholm and Milan (Fragments) are already coming to life and other favourite Concrete Cities are coming soon…
Describe your design and making process from initial inspiration to final product?
Most of our designs so far, have addressed a specific brief, such as the creation of a contemporary souvenir, or a tradition inspired design for a picnic occasion.
It is a quite difficult process to transform what seems a cool and interesting idea for an object, into the real thing, the final product. Especially, when, like us, you don’t have a fully equipped workshop to back-up your experimentation! So, we get inspired, we think it over and through and at the same time we start discussing its fabrication with the right people, like technicians, or shops to find what we need… and then the fun of testing starts! From the effort, stress and disappointment until you get what you want, how you want it, name it, present the concept that it was built upon, work on the graphics to accompany it and pack it up nicely to go, to the joy and content of exhibiting, distributing and getting good reviews, it is a long, but fulfilling journey, that leaves you with a (hopefully!) successful object, and lot of experience for the next one!
Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of A Future Perfect?
A really good day is one when we are excited about a new project, an interesting collaboration proposal, a good review or reference of our work. A bad day is when the to-do list has more bullets than there are hours in the day!
What are you most proud of?
We are proud of pursuing our dreams against the ambiguity and darkness of the times – we are very proud when we bring an idea from the messiness of our brains to life, despite the difficulties and obstacles we might encounter along the process.
What’s next for you?
Although we want to plan and organise at some point, we find that things are happening without us being able to control or predict them, which is part of the fun, when it doesn’t drive us crazy! We are very excited to be participating in Ventura Lambrate 2014 as part of Milan Design Week in the T.I.V.D (This Is Very Dangerous) group exhibition. This is the official launch of our new conceptual design “Meet Your Lamb”, a set of wooden food serving vessels addressing the picnic theme of the exhibition. Also, we are discussing the curation of a multi-dimensional project focusing on concrete as an upcoming design and art material. Last, but not least, The Concrete Cities project keeps evolving with the production of new cities (London and New York are next in line!) as well as the addition of new design products under this concept.
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Do not wait too long before you start experimenting with the realisation of your ideas… once you get going you will never want to stop!
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
Peachy pink and pale olive.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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