Architects often make good designers, perhaps because they have such strong spatial awareness and finely developed feelings for form. That’s certainly the case for architect-designers Leonidas Trampoukis and Eleni Petaloti, but what we also love about their work is their experimental approach to materials.
For their design company, Objects of Common Interest, the couple have, among other things, folded marble, and given cut copper a mirror finish and combined it with the kind of lightweight concrete more usually found in insulated walls. ‘We started Objects of Common Interest,’ Trampoukis explains, ‘because we wanted to play around on a smaller scale than we usually can with buildings. And it’s also nice to be able to do things occasionally on a shorter timescale.’
Their award-winning architectural practice, LOT, was featured in the 2014 Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory and is based in Greece (where they were raised) and New York (where they studied and now live). In a funny way, this dual outlook informs their designs for Objects of Common Interest.
Marble has been widely used in Greece since classical antiquity, and Greek companies have an unrivalled expertise with it as a material, which means that Trampoukis and Petaloti have been able to conduct more radical experiments with it than they might have been able to do elsewhere.
The ‘Mirage’ tray, for example, is carved from a solid block of marble into crisply angled channels in different widths, designed to hold objects of varying size; while the concave seats of their prototype ‘Bent Stools’ seem to sag as if made from fabric or leather. ‘We’re currently working with a Dutch company to do more marble products,’ Trampoukis says.
Their concrete mirrors, by contrast, are made in New Jersey. Here, as Trampoukis explains, ‘we have been exploring advanced digital tools to develop a series of design objects. A five-axis CNC [Computer Numerically Controlled] router is used to carve useable and highly crafted objects out of lightweight concrete blocks.’ Once the concrete has been cut into shape, mirror-polished copper is fitted perfectly into place, apparently held in place entirely by its own weight.
The same polished copper is used in their ‘Shapes’ mirrors for Mingardo (available from the WallpaperSTORE* and being shown at Salone del Mobile this month), while marble appears again in a prototype version of the ‘Saw’ rack, whose notched top would function equally well as a rack for shoes or magazines; they’re also working on a wooden version for a Greek retailer. These may be objects of interest, but they’re anything but commonplace.