Athens’ First Forum Celebrating Greek Design and Architecture 

The inaugural Athens Design Forum, a non-profit event, has been launched in the Greek capital; aiming to celebrate Greek design, architecture, and creativity through a series of exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and archival studies.

Running from 30 September through to 7 October 2021, the festival, which is the first of its kind, is supported by The City of Athens and The Behrakis Foundation and brings together specialists, innovators, and strategic partners who highlight the history and prospective future of design in the country and beyond. In an experimental format, the non-profit organisation’s mission is to invite local and global audiences to experience design in Athens, solidifying the Mediterranean capital as a historical and contemporary epicenter of creative production.

“Athens Design Forum (ADF) bridges traditional and contemporary design principles to inspire socially conscious and sustainable design. Introducing an experimental format for experiencing design that is rooted in the traditional heritage of the Mediterranean, ADF brings local wisdom to a global scale,” state the organisers of the event. 

“Our vision is to sustain formative dialogues, amplify the craft and design sectors, build strategic partnerships with local and global organizations, and create accessible knowledge,” adds ADF. 

Highlights during the forum include a visit to Papagos House, which is the private residence and studio of legendary Greek painter Alekos Fassianos- this will be open to the public for the very first time; as well as a studio visit with emerging local designer Kostas Lambridis- set in the industrial area of Nea Ionia.

A selection of furniture designs made by architect Dionisis Sotovikis will be shown in his personal residence, a historic landmark built by Aristomenis Proveleggios; and a unique performance designed by Tellurico and Neostandard will showcase “stucco,’’ an ancient technique commonly used in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, which covers walls and pillars of classical buildings, often reproducing precious stones like marble and granite.  

As part of the forum, the Benaki Museum Shop will also be presenting a curated collection of ceramic works at the Ghika Gallery Shop. For the entire program head to Athens Design Forum.

Main image courtesy of Wallpaper ©

Strolling around the Stunning Athenian Trilogy 

As you stroll up Panepistimiou St, towards famous Syntagma Square, you encounter three of the most elegant and imposing neoclassical buildings in the Greek Capital that are collectively known as the Athenian Trilogy. 

Made up of the University of Athens, the Athens Academy and the National Library, each was designed in the mid-19th century by the Danish Hansen brothers and completed years later with the help of benefactors and donors. 

University of Athens

The central building in the Athenian Trilogy is the University of Athens, which was built in 1839 from the designs of famous Danish architect Christian Hansen. Completed in 1864, the building benefited from many other fine architects, including Kaftantzoglou and Theophil Hansen (brother of Christian). Many Greeks throughout the diaspora also contributed to the significant undertaking. When you visit you’ll notice a mural on the front, depicting King Otto alongside classical personifications of the arts and sciences; the murals were designed by the Bavarian Rahl and painted by Polish artist Lebientzki after Rahl’s death.

A: 30 Panepistimiou St, Athens

National Library

To the left of the University of Athens is the National Library (also known as Vallianeio Mansion) this is the easternmost of the three-building complex known as the Athenian Trilogy. Construction began in 1888 according to designs by Theophil Hansen and it was finished under the supervision of German architect Ernst Ziller. Built with white Pentelic marble and adorned with Grecian Doric columns, the building also boasts a stunning, Renaissance-style semi-circular twin staircase. The facade is decorated with statues of the Vallianos family, who helped finance the building along with other Greek businessmen. Note: the original books and manuscripts from the library are now housed in the current National Library, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. 

A: 32 Panepistimiou St, Athens

The Academy 

To the right of the University of Athens is the Academy of Athens, where you will find Greece’s highest research establishment; designed by Theophil Hansen, who was very much inspired by the Acropolis. It was finished in 1885 by Hansen’s student, Ernst Ziller. The structure is covered in white Pentelic marble and parts of the facade are adorned with ancient stone. Statues (created by Leonidas Drosis, Greek neoclassical sculptor of the 19th century) of Athena, goddess of literature, and Apollo, god of the arts sit on Ionic columns on either side of the entrance, and impressive sculptures of Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates are also found below.

A: 28 Panepistimiou St, Athens 

About the architects 

Christian Hansen

Christian Hansen was a Historicist Danish architect who worked in Greece for 18 years and was active in the transformation of Athens becoming the country’s capital and an international metropolis.

Theophil Hansen

Brother of Christian, Theophil Hansen was a Danish architect who became particularly well known for his buildings and structures in Athens and Vienna and is considered an outstanding representative of Neoclassicism and Historicism.

Ernst Ziller

A German-born university teacher and architect who later became a Greek national. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ernst Ziller was a major designer of royal and municipal buildings in Athens, Patras, and other Greek cities.