By Penny Zalalas
Co-founded by Loukas Angelou and Vasso Asfi, STUDIOLAV is a growing design studio located in London and offers a range of product, retail and interior design services worldwide.
Having studied product and industrial design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, they draw inspiration from heritage, tradition and everyday encounters.
The use of narrative is central to Loukas and Vasso’s work, which often focuses on the emotional connection between people, objects and their environment. This fresh approach goes hand in hand with their signature style of sophisticated simplicity, creating high quality and unique designs for everyday use.
Some of their most recognised projects include innovative, sleek and edgy tables, crockery, linen, kitchen stamps, tea towels and the Atlas Shopper-where they turned an iconic tin food container into a luxury tote.
We recently spoke to the talented duo from their London based studio about their successful work, which has allowed them to collaborate with clients all around the world.
Have you always had a passion for design?
Although our paths and backgrounds are different, we both share the same passion for design but also the creative scene at large.
Where did you study?
We both studied product and industrial design respectively at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Loukas also has a background in ceramic, jewellery and glass design while Vasso in interior design. Our diverse experience informs our current work, which gives us the flexibility to work on different projects.
How did you form a creative partnership?
We were both living and working in London at the time and happened to exhibit together on a couple of occasions. Initially it was more of a social encounter, but our conversations always revolved around design. So, when an opportunity came up we decided to join forces. The outcome of this first collaboration was Line The Gap, a playful tea towel designed for Pedlars stores in Notting Hill & Selfridges.
Do you have a similar style and what role do you each play at STUDIOLAV?
Our styles and references are different but when it comes to projects we manage to find a balance between us both. We learn, we support and we compliment each other but we also disagree and ‘fight’ a lot. It’s often during these creative ‘battles’ that some of the most interesting ideas arise. We don’t necessarily have established roles; we delegate our work more organically, depending on the nature of the project.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Design is an everyday encounter, not always visible but always present. With that in mind we draw inspiration from something very basic; a movement, a texture, a ritual. Sometimes we use design to provide solutions and others to comment on ideas, behaviours and current social affairs.
What services do you provide to your clients?
STUDIOLAV is a multidisciplinary design studio and our services range from product design to retail and spatial design.
How would you describe STUDIOLAV’S creations?
Through our work we try to achieve a balance between emotion and functionality. Our approach is detail and material focused and the final product is simple but rich in context. Humour, irony and semiotics are some of the tools we often use in our design process.
Where are most of your major clients based?
Our clients come from different countries. At the moment we are collaborating with a new company based in Amsterdam. Also we are working with a furniture manufacturer from Croatia and the cultural institution in Greece.
STUDIOLAV’s biggest project(s) to date?
Each of our projects is special for a different reason. Definitely the ones that are standing out so far are our ‘Designer Baking Stamps’, that have been presented in a number of international exhibitions as well as food and design publications, ‘Atlas Shopper’ tin and leather tote bag, that was really well received for its nostalgic and humorous qualities and ‘Design is Dead’ pencils, which has been used as an object for academic discussion.
What are some of your favourite colours & concepts for 2016?
We love black + white and the grey palette in between, an element that is also very prominent in our work. For a couple of our latest projects we experimented a lot with bold monochrome graphics that at the moment seems to be one of the leading trends. On the other hand, we are always interested in patterns and different ways of applying it either in three-dimensional objects or in more graphic interpretations. Graphitecture, an enamelware breakfast set we designed for Metalac is based on those principles.
How did the Atlas Shopper come about?
‘Atlas Shopper’ is the result of the collaboration with Ding design shop in Athens for which over 15 designers have been invited to design objects using the tin food container. The blue and white tin food container (tenekes) is an iconic everyday object- used to store and transport olive oil and feta cheese, two of the most popular culinary goods of the country and its presence still adorns and services the Greek household. With ‘Atlas Shopper’, a tin and leather tote bag, we tried to re-introduce this cult object into a witty fashion accessory with obvious semiological references to luxury leather design products.
What do you enjoy most about working together?
Working in collaboration has its challenges but also some great advantages. Our creative roles are complementary and it is always a great pleasure to bounce ideas off each other. Many times our different approaches and thinking about a brief ends up leading to unexpected results, which would have not been possible to reach otherwise. Also its always much more fun to share the good and difficult moments with someone.
What projects are you currently working on?
We just completed a project with Technopolis in Athens that will launch soon and as mentioned above we are working with two very exciting furniture concepts with a Croatian brand and a start-up based in the Netherlands.
Does your Greek background influence your designs?
Although the Greek element is not always prominent in our work, we definitely carry many memories and experiences that somehow affect and inform our design process.