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Interview with Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi

Home > Designer Interviews > Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi (MT) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi by clicking here.

Interview with Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi at Friday 8th of September 2017
Maria-Zoi Tsiligkiridi
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
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.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MT: MA√ (Maraiz) creative studio has been operating in Athens since 2009 and it consists of architecture, product design and their implementation.  In every construction, each part has a predetermined use. The creations of MA√ prove the exact opposite. Materials that live in obscurity take a different role; furniture about to go to waste is dismantled or used unaltered in imaginative and peculiar compositions. I like to create practical spaces and practical furniture by combining traditional and industrial design in an innovative way. I believe that the architecture of both spaces and objects is a living organism that should be in the position to transform easily according to the users’ needs. Since 2011, Ι have been collaborating closely, fraternally, with Stavros Tsiligkiridis, a construction project management for demanding private clients, offering complete architectural, interior design and construction services for residential and commercial projects. In 2015, 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. Having on my side Giorgos Kontogeorgos, my partner on manufacturing, and Maria Tsiligkiridi, who is a graphic designer, I established MA√|design products.

FS: What is "design" for you?
MT: Design is creativity, good aesthetics, comfort, functionality, innovation, imagination and interaction with people.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
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”.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MT: One day I was waiting to be attended at a store selling plumbing parts and, by observing the pipe mountings, inspiration came along for "The Project CAVA"! Electromechanical parts which are usually “hidden” in constructions take a leading role in CAVA as bottle mountings. That’s how the concept of a furniture-wine rack came up, resembling a building in small scale: columns, slabs and the composition with the bottle mountings as the building’s walls. The CAVA project is a range of multi-functional furniture, a module which combines the wine rack with general use furniture such as side tables, bars, mini bars and tasting tables. Thanks to its design as a module, it can expand in many different combinations by forming endless compositions like shelves for private use or compositions for the demonstration or storage of bottles in bars or cellars for professional use. The furniture is complemented by accessories especially designed for CAVA such as glass racks, hanging lights, slabs and serving trays. The materials used are metal in the natural black colour of iron with galvanized coating or electrostatic coating in several colours, solid wood, marble and plexiglas. Metal gives CAVA a particularly minimal style, as if almost the bottles are floating in the air. By applying the laser cutting technique along with the various materials and colours, the designs are endless thus transforming CAVA from minimal to retro, pop or industrial.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MT: It was a wall-mounted piece of furniture mainly serving as bookcase with fireplace, in combination with glass case and storage space for drinks and handy items. Its structure was inspired by the de Stijl movement, while its linings were a patchwork of different kinds of wood.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MT: I cannot choose one…I like wood very much for its familiar texture; metal as it conveys an unparalleled fineness; stone for its timeless and sturdy character; clay for the possibilities it offers you to create organic forms; glass for the play its transparency creates; and many more…Each material contributes in a distinct way to a product and there are times that the combination of different materials can give a particularly complete result.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
MT: When I am traveling and I interact with people and places from different cultures and especially when I see the world from high above from an airplane or when I am swimming at the bottom of the sea.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MT: Functionality, aesthetics, imagination, innovation, usability, user-friendliness.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MT: Enthusiasm and freedom!

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MT: Even greater enthusiasm, optimism and satisfaction!

FS: What makes a design successful?
MT: Good design is the one which fulfills the objective for which it was designed; it is innovative, functional, tasteful, practical, user friendly, thorough down to the last detail.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MT: Even greater enthusiasm, optimism and satisfaction!

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MT: Design is intertwined with the history and desires of each era. People, circumstances, the economy and the environment form the distinct architectural and design movements. A designer must keep abreast of the times, contribute to the raising of social awareness and respect the environment.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
MT: I believe that more and more young people with fresh ideas get involved with the design and thus the future of design seems to be very promising. I notice the sensitivity of design towards society and the environment, as well as a return to tradition through a contemporary viewpoint.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MT: The last exhibition where the CAVA project was presented was Fine Red Wines 2017 in December of 2016 at Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens, organized by Vinetum and FNL Guide. The next exhibition I would like to participate in is Salone del Mobile in Milan in 2018.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MT: The source of my inspiration involves streets, old-stuff shops, warehouses, industries, construction sites, travels, tradition, modern art and music.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
MT: I am intrigued by the selection among different artistic and architectural movements, and often by their combination. A basic characteristic of my work is the design of products with parts consisting of fittings or components from other objects, usually of older times, or, of materials which are usually hidden as they serve specific purposes in machinery or building facilities. I have developed this tendency through my work on building and space construction. When you see a building being constructed from scratch or a space being “deconstructed” and gradually constructed, you discover many elements which can inspire the design of a product. I like designing furniture which has more than one use and can get transformed depending on the space they are placed. I believe that the architecture of both spaces and objects is a living organism that should be in the position to transform easily according to the users’ needs.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
MT: I was born and live in Greece. I believe that our cultural heritage and folk tradition has influenced my design. I like it when elements of the past and of tradition get incorporated in contemporary design. In fact, it is the diversity of each culture which forms the world’s collage. Living in Greece of 2017 – a country amidst the recession – is, on the one hand, difficult regarding the production and promotion of products, but on the other hand, inspiring as difficulties help those who love what they do to stand out.

FS: How do you work with companies?
MT: The products are designed, tested and assembled in the studio. The metallic, marble, acrylic and wooden parts of the products are machine produced and processed in collaboration with local industries. The finish of all products is hand-made in the studio. 

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MT: I undertake two types of product design: design on demand and design for production. Design on demand is addressed to a particular user and usually a particular space. In this case, the first thing that happens is the acquaintance with the user to find out his/her functional needs, while the second is the understanding of the space where the product to be designed will be placed. Then, designing takes place: originally in sketches and photo collages and then in 3D photorealistic programs depending on the product’s design requirements. The final stage involves the manufacturing of the product, which, depending on the design requirements of the product, is realized either fully in the studio or in collaboration with local industries. Design for production follows the same procedure, while the main difference is that there is no particular user but instead endless possible users – a fact that offers you unlimited freedom.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MT: The lighting fixture in the dining room, the chair by the fireplace, the hand basin in the bathroom, the pepper mill and of course CAVA for the drinks!

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
MT: Each day is distinct from any other day and that pleases me a lot. For instance, on a day when I am in the process of a design project, I will wake up, put on music, prepare my cup of coffee and get down to work until late that night or even early next day! On another day, I might be into production and not use my computer at all, or I might decide that I need to get out so that I can enjoy the sun and come up with some ideas.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
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.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MT: Being a designer is a lifestyle. It is a creative work with many beautiful challenges as well as numerous quests. There are times you have endless freedom and others you are confronted with many limitations. In any case, it is something that constantly fuels you with joy, satisfaction and dreams, but which also requires a great deal of dedication, patience, love and eagerness for work.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MT: To dream; to work; to realize.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
MT: To have imagination; to think differently; to be armed with patience; to be a hard worker; to have the capacity, when designing, to think how theory can be put into practice.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
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!

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MT: I don’t sleep and I drink a lot of coffee.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MT: From one day to several months.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
MT: “Will you tell me your opinion?”

FS: What was your most important job experience?
MT: Designing my house! The most demanding client!

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MT: I cannot pick one; it is all equally interesting to me, as long as no one restricts you.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
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!

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MT: It depends on the project. Mostly I work on my own, but there are occasions when I am particularly happy to work with my soul mate, Maria Tsiligkiridi, who is a graphic designer.

FS: How can people contact you?
MT: website: http://www.maraiz.gr e-shop: http://www.thecavaproject.com


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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