Artificiel Athens

Documenting the “skin” of Athenian Buildings

“Artificiel” is the colloquial name of the hand-crafted sculpting technique on cement facing, covering the ubiquitous polykatoikia mid-20th Century apartment buildings in Athens. A result of great skill and craftsmanship by the pelekanoi construction artisans, the technique became obsolete in the 1970ies and is currently in danger of having its material traces lost forever: New energy efficiency regulations will see the gradual scrapping of those sculpted cement surfaces, to be replaced with external thermal insulation. This will be a significant loss to the look and feel of the city. Athens-based designer Yiannis Ghikas documented polykatoikia building facades throughout the center of Athens with a 3d-scanner and molded their signature patterns on a new collection of porcelain ware, produced by Myran Scandinavian Design.

Yiannis Ghikas on his design

“Walking the streets of Athens, one will observe that most buildings constructed between 1950 and 1970 are dressed in surfaces of chased cement facing, a technique colloquially known as Artificiel. This “skin” of the city, at places well-preserved, but most often, visibly worn or poorly preserved, caught my attention since quite some time. The scale of application of this technique in Athenian buildings is so ubiquitous that, if there were one texture to stand as signature feature of the city, it would be the texture of those artificiel. If I had to choose one characteristic trait of Athens to incorporate in my design work, then I would clearly choose artificiel; which is what I did.”

Using photogrammetry, we scanned three basic types of artificiel (fine/chténi, medium/thrapína, coarse/koutaliá) on three urban buildings, in the districts of Kypseli and Kolonaki. We used the digital reliefs to build 3d models of the objects which, when printed, formed the base for the construction of the molds where porcelain is cast.

Myran on the collaboration

When Yiannis Ghikas showed us the new project he was working on after coming back from his residency in Arita in Japan, it was love at first sight. Having worked for two decades with Scandinavian and Japanese Design in Greece, we couldn’t have found a better way of expressing our aesthetic bipolarness than this ceramic celebration of Athens, combining the subtleness of Japanese craft with the gritty diamond of the Athenian facades.

A Collection of New Porcelain Ware: Designed in Athens, Hand Made in Portugal

Chténi, cup: H80xØ85mm ml (170-180ml)

Thrapína, cup: H80xØ85mm ml (170-180ml)

Koutaliá, cup: H80xØ85mm ml (170-180ml)

Thrapína Espresso/raki cup: H55xØ54mm (70-80ml)

Koutaliá Espresso/raki cup: H55xØ54mm (70-80ml)

Chténi Cereal bowl: H54xØ145mm



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