Greek Marble turned into Tableware
Behind the Scenes - Nov 15, 2020, Interview by Aztro
You might recall the six legendary Greek sculptors Myron, Phidias, Polyclitus, Praxiteles, Scopas, and Lysippus, who are among the most famous artists in ancient Greece, but while their work has been lost or reliqued in museums from around the world, the art of sculpting marble lives within a contemporary Greek designer Faye Tsakalides.
Tell us about your studio and its origins.
We need to expand our perimeter if we’re going to fully understand the’’ cosmos’’ of a designer steeped in a culture without limits or frontiers. Faye Tsakalides grew up in the shadow of the Acropolis and the Parthenon with its phenomenal temples, and these shaped her imagination forever, infusing it with elegance, majesty, and sophistication.
Having left her native Greece to study fine arts in Edinburgh, the young designer then headed to Paris to join the Belleville National School of Architecture. But she quickly realized that she preferred to work on a smaller scale than buildings and that the sculptor’s eye that she inherited from her spiritual ancestors pushed her towards a career as a designer.
From design weeks to salons, from prizes to exhibitions, she moved from western Europe to Scandinavia to the United States before setting her sights on the Middle East. At each stage of her journey, she drew from local cultures in a continual refinement and affirmation of her style, constructing a unique creative language with a universal vocation. From the Nordic countries as from France, she retained a pared-back aesthetic, from New York, she held onto the sense of creative freedom, and so on...
By this point far removed from the ancient sophistication in which she was first steeped, the designer now showed a penchant for simple lines that she initially translated in neons before returning to her sources – choosing marble as her go-to material. A popular collection from the moment it launched in 2018, the Rituals series fed Faye Tsakalides’ ambition to move through space and time and create something lasting.
What led you to start White Cubes?
White Cubes is a multidisciplinary studio, a creative office around art, architecture, design, and furniture accessories.
White Cubes, I challenge the demarcations between Art & Design, creating a new visual language of aesthetic sensitivity, based primarily on clear, often cubic forms, linear elements, and deconstructive shapes.
Focusing mainly on the "White" aspect of life, I attempt to redefine, or better, to define the notions of "Functional Art" and "Sculptural Object Design." Through a "Reinvention" of existing forms, I look to give new meanings and functions to objects. My creations are characterized by a sense of longevity, contrary to the "a la mode" movement of our era.
Tell us about where you live a day in your life as a creator
Far removed in character but not in the distance from the tourist areas of Plaka and Psyrri, Pangrati holds a certain charm, which leaves you feeling as if you've stumbled across a well-kept secret. Its backstreets are an intriguing mix of neoclassical and modern architecture, and they often lead to quaint squares full of life. It is not a chance that the neighborhood houses most of the up and coming creative people of Athens, that came to the neighborhood to find inspiration, sophistication, an authentic style, a healthy conscious environment, and an unpretentious yet fresh living environment.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
The creative process is more for me, a close relationship with the artisans and the manufacturing industry. Even the most accurate design or 3d visualization loses its power if it is wrong or inaccurately interpreted. Spending many hours in the factories or small workshops (all our products are finished by hand and one by one supervised and finalized ) guarantees the excellent quality of the products. But also the compliance with our ethos, ethics, and policies and, of course, the correct interpretation of our design pure lines & concepts, our aesthetics, and our vision for the future.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind your work?
For me, New York is my eternal source of inspiration. It offers an unprecedented openness to ideas and a fertile ground for experimentation, innovation, and personal identity expression.
I take inspiration from architecture (my initial vocation ), ideas and thoughts about weight and lightness, transparency and opaqueness, light and shadow, cubic and round. For instance, Japanese architecture ( i.e., temples ) defines the mood and bring out certain feelings and emotions.
I look at art rather than design, searching for an exact form, stripping ideas down to an abstract expression. I then inject practicality and function to make the designs balanced and coherent with room for personal interpretation, use, and meaning.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you have faced?
Most of the time, the challenge is that I am a "one's man" (better woman's) show! You don't have to deal only with the creative process and the final result, but pretty often, you have a whole bunch of things that come along with, from the meetings with the clients up to the sales, accountancy,to the logistics part. Of course, this develops in you a great deal of personal traits and qualities that you wouldn't have the chance to work on otherwise. In times of COVID-19, the equilibrium has changed, and we have to come across new strategies, and working concepts and better understand the era we live in. Of course, it is a big challenge, but we will get out of it stronger, more powerful, more human, working on our ingenious parts and our unique inner gifts that we wouldn't have the chance to face and discover in other historical times.
As a female design entrepreneur, what advice you give other female entrepreneurs to empower them?
The advice I would give to female entrepreneurs would be : to follow their passion, to develop their own personal style no matter what business they are in. To identify a dream and a need and then go for it. Passion and determination should inspire the entrepreneur to choose their own path and then make it happen. Also to face your fears ( over and over ), redefine failure, ask ''why'' questions a lot, let your mind wander- as your best ideas will come to you when your mind wander.And of course challenge yourself, take risks, find good people and build a great team, know your goals, ask for customer's input and deliver more than expected !
What is the vision for your brand in the next years to come?
For me, the brand's future is to think big, encourage growth, be consistent with the core values, and revise regularly.
I would love White Cubes and Faye Tsakalides products to be used worldwide to help people rediscover a new way of life more holistic, closer to their true nature, and their true inner selves. The aim will be to provide new holistic and high-quality vessels, utensils, and all-day products and accessories to give true meanings and importance to our everyday special moments and rituals. They will lead us in that way to a more sophisticated way of life, more refined, simpler, happier, elevating our routines and make us more present to the each and every moment.
By slowing down, by giving importance to our small routines and moments in the ebb and flow of our daily lives, we feast our eyes, we nurture our souls, we rejuvenate our bodies and we enrich our whole existence. We transform our homes into healthy and holistic environments where creation, relaxation, rejuvenation, and love can thrill.
Share a few thoughts of what you like about being part of our community?
What I love about being part of the Artzo community is being connected to a supportive group of creatives that understand the importance of having a diversity of outputs of both local craft and design. The platform has allowed me to connect to other creatives with similar work and objectives. The year 2020 pinpoints just how critical it is for us to find different methods of production that are not dependent on mass consumption, in a world suffering from the subsequent ecological neglect caused by none-diversified global consumerism. We need more businesses and attention given to local production, and Artzo does just this.