Inspired by her Hellenic heritage, talented international designer Themis Zouganeli launched the elegant luxury lifestyle brand THEMIS Z in 2015, creating simple and timeless homewares and fashion pieces that are all carefully handcrafted in Greece.
Using locally sourced natural materials and traditional artisans, the classic collections include signature handmade dinner and coffee sets, stylish cushions and vases, as well as graceful ready-to-wear pieces and chic accessories that are adored by women worldwide.
With flagship stores in Athens, Mykonos and Gstaad, IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Themis about her unique style, her bespoke collaboration with luxury house Dior Maison- plus we take an exclusive look at the brand’s stunning new Fall Collection.
Interview by Penny Zalalas
Tell us about your leading lifestyle brand. When was it launched and what was the concept behind it?
The brand was created and grew organically about five years ago. As an interior designer, I wanted to design and produce an unpretentious luxury line of home accessories inspired by my own aesthetic outlook whilst ensuring each item is handmade in Greece. As I love patterns that are simple and structural, inspired by Greek architecture, I started designing various motifs, first on cushions and plates and later on transferring these motifs onto entire homeware lines as well as luxury bespoke ready to wear items and accessories. The “Made in Greece” label is a core value of the brand, as for us it is very important to support local artisans who continue preserving and practising their art for over 30 years, creating ethically and locally made pieces that last forever.
What is the main inspiration behind your creations?
The whole brand incorporates a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle with sophisticated style and unique patterns. The entire collection is made for easy living which at this point in time is so relevant and important. It is time to focus on quality over quantity and to evolve a sustainable way of living. The inspiration for the patterns comes from my life in Greece, and all the visual inspiration I get from our beautiful Athenian architecture.
What do you love most about your work?
I love every aspect that has to do with THEMIS Z and I love being involved in the whole process from sketching the patterns and designing the collections, to creating the art de la table, organising the photo shooting and interacting with our clients. Every part of this job fills my heart and motivates me to do my best, serving a brand that breathes sustainability and unpretentious luxury.
Tell us about your collaboration with Dior Maison.
This came three years ago as an ongoing process which is amazing. It was an honour to sell our tableware to creative director of Dior Maison, Cordelia de Castellane, who loved our style and contacted me to design and produce bespoke homeware under the name of Dior Maison itself. Over the past few years, I have designed the Scorpios Collection and the Hydra Collection and we are currently working on further.
What are your favourite pieces from your Fall Collection?
I absolutely adore our new pattern of the Peacock, inspired by a beautiful Art Deco staircase found in an old theatre in downtown Athens. On the tableware I love the two-tone of light and dark brown for fall and winter, it creates warmth and gives a unique style to any table setting. I also love our new Peacock napkins and placemats, foil-blocked with our pattern in gold which is so unique as it adds a luminous touch to any table setting. I am also totally in love with our new silk shirts, once again adorned with the Peacock pattern on the cuffs, so timeless and chic. All of our ready to wear pieces are handmade in our very own atelier in Athens and are of exceptional quality. Last but not least I am fond of a super sexy suit made of silk velvet which I absolutely adore and can’t wait to wear.
All your pieces are made in Greece, how important is that to you?
The concept of “Made in Greece” is very important to me and an integral part of the brand. All our artisans live and work in and around Athens and have been working on their crafts for generations. During the crisis in Greece, many of these artisans were in dire straits and I am very proud to have assisted in my own way for their rebirth and growth. I work very closely with all of them, many times visiting their workplace – forming close relationships and a bond is a core part of the brand. Greek craftsmanship is a unique art and I am so happy to be able to share it with the world. As I mentioned previously, when it comes to the clothing, we produce every piece in-house at our own atelier where wonderful seamstresses who take great pride in their work create true masterpieces, timeless items that will be in a woman’s wardrobe for years to come. We also try and use clothing materials that are made in Greece, like virgin wool and organic silk produced in Northern Greece, Soufli, Evros.
You grew up in Athens and spent most summers in Mykonos. What are your fondest childhood memories?
I hold very fond memories from my childhood. Athens and Mykonos in the 1970s and 1980s were very stylish places and of course, Athens was always brimming with life and culture, beautiful visual inspirations and references that stay with you as you grow up. Mykonos was also a dreamy place, extremely cosmopolitan which at that time was a unique aspect for Greece, very free-spirited, fun-loving and energetic. As a child, all these images and feelings stay with you growing up and become part of you, which I feel is also reflected in my brand.
Your Dad owned some of the most exclusive nightclubs in Athens and Mykonos. Tell us more.
I was too young to be able to go to the nightclubs at the time, but the entertainment part of my character, which is also an undivided part of the brand, is definitely an outcome of that. Creating beautiful spaces where people can relax and enjoy themselves, arranging beautiful table settings which create a special ambience is all the outcome of having come from the family I come from. I would say the images that are in my head of Mykonos at the time which was extremely chic and glamorous, have also stayed with me. “Enjoying life in the most relaxed but elegant manner” was the theme of the nightlife my father created and I would say this is the essence of my brand, as well.
Where are a few of your favourite spots to wine and dine in Athens?
I absolutely love a restaurant called Ratka in the centre of Athens, it has been around since the ’70s and is a great place to see friends. And a French restaurant L’Abreuvoir which holds most of my childhood memories, with a beautiful garden in the centre of town and great food.
Where would you take overseas guests visiting Athens?
Definitely the Acropolis and the area around it as it has an amazing energy and vibe! Lunch at the Grande Bretagne with a view of the Acropolis, and then I would take them down by the sea in Vouliagmeni, nothing beats the Greek sea.
A few of your most loved spots in Mykonos?
Spilia restaurant in Agia Anna and Alemagou in Ftelia for a nice sunset dinner and dancing.
Favourite place for a swim in Mykonos?
By far the best swim is in the still pure and untouched beach of Agios Sostis which is where I grew up in the summers.
Most memorable Mykonian lunch?
I have so many memorable late lunches it’s difficult to speak of one in particular, but one of my favourite things to do is to spend the entire day out on a boat around Mykonos when it’s not too windy, have a very late lunch at Thalassaki restaurant in Tinos, which I highly recommend and then coming back as the sun sets while watching it all aboard the boat.
You enjoy entertaining. What do you like cooking for your guests?
I love cooking for our Christmas day feast, it’s a ritual I did with my mother and now with my daughters. It consists of Turkey, a red sweet and sour cabbage, a Polish recipe of my mother’s, lemon and chocolate mousse.
Some hosting tips?
Beautiful plates, beautiful flowers, lots and lots of candles and a lot of good vibes and feelings.
What do you always pack with you when you travel?
My chapstick. Very important!