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Catalyst for Creativity

Athens, Greece

Once a storage space in a 1970s block, architect Georgios Apostolopoulos has created a light, minimal office for his own studio in Athens that encourages openness and collaboration

Research says that a clutter-free workspace can create more focused workers – in which case, this minimalist office in Athens by Georgios Apostolopoulos Architects must be incredibly productive. This is Apostolopoulos’ own studio, created from a former storage space in a 1970s building in the city’s Pagrati neighbourhood; the architect works between London and Athens, with projects that include city apartments and extensions in the UK, and contrastingly sprawling villas in Greece.

“The idea was that the space would have no more than what is essential – so that we could have a clutter-less space that would inspire creativity,” says Apostolopoulos. The old storage rooms had no redeeming qualities, but the size and location were perfect, and Apostolopoulos liked the idea of opening up the space to create something open-plan, taking advantage of the large windows to allow in plenty of natural light. There is a workspace with desks, plus a client meeting area adjoined to a kitchen, and hidden doors that conceal a bathroom and storage.

Taking such a minimalist approach lets the materials, finishes and forms do the talking: simple marine plywood furniture, a beige textured-plaster-like paint finish on the walls and a stair balustrade that is a simple criss-cross of two tubular metal components. The microcement used for the flooring and the steps down from the entrance was chosen “because I wanted to have a seamless material throughout without any visible connections, such as tile grouting,” says Apostolopoulos, and it also echoes the lightly textured finish of the walls. The large windows were replaced and given new painted iron frames, with sandblasted marble used for the window sills that extend from inside to out.

The lack of ornament also emphasises the role that natural light has to play. “The walls have been kept empty, so that the light can be reflected on them and that the space can be filled with light throughout the day,” continues Apostolopoulos.

The idea was that the space would have no more than what is essential – so that we could have a clutter-less space that would inspire creativity

The kitchen is also suitably pared back, with a slim metal worktop and handle-free cabinetry. “In order to keep the whole space open, we had to create a kitchen that would fit in well with the rest of the area – it had to feel more like a piece of furniture sitting quietly in the corner, rather than shouting that it’s a kitchen,” says Apostolopoulos.

Floor-to-ceiling semi-sheer curtains cover the windows when privacy is needed or for when it is too bright, which looks soft, generous and almost theatrical, especially so compared to the subdued mood everywhere else. Generally, though, Apostolopoulos’ aim is not to shut out passers by but to develop a strong connection with the street outside: “We wanted the studio to feel that is part of the neighbourhood,” he says, and the space’s welcoming, multifunctional possibilities will also be realised when the studio starts mounting planned art exhibitions later this year.

Apostolopoulos has also considered the future, with the studio allowing for possible expansion of up to five people. For now, though, “the space feels great – it just creates a nice calm feeling,” he says. “It’s also about the feelings that can be created when people are visiting the studio,” he continues – in other words, it’s a calling card for a wider design ethos of how our environments have the potential to shape our mood, and create the right framework whether for work, play or living.