Sunday, 20 May 2012

Santorini Deco

In my previous blog I coined the phrase "Santorini Deco." Well I thought I coined it. A Google search for the phrase took me to an elegant photograph on Flickr which someone had titled  by that same moniker. So I guess there are at least two of us who see a connection between the uniquely traditional Santorini style and the Deco school of design.

I also mentioned in the last blog that Cycladic architecture has a distinct attraction to artists and sculptors who for decades have been drawn to the islands. That is especially true of Santorini, partly due to the stunning Caldera vistas, the cylinder shaped roofs, and the incomparibly rich Oia sunset. Consequently, Santorini takes on subtle shades of pastel overlayed on the basic white Cycladic stucco. And why not, Oia turns delicious orange and mauve every night at sunset anyway. Who can blame them if there souls have been tinged with pastel.

Deco design may in fact be a derivative of traditional Greek jewelry and tile design, with its spiraling squares. It is a small step indeed for someone like Klimt to discover the visual magic of spiraling circles - all of which gets played out in the black ironwork gracing entry ways.

And dare I forget the timeless contibution of the ancients with the ultimate elegance of white and creme marble sculptures. Greece is the world's vanguard of design - even when it is looking backwards! (OK, maybe the Romans and Italians also made a huge contibution, but where is their Santorini?)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cycladic Architecture - Greek Islands

The bright whitewashed cubic structures shining in contrast to the intense cobalt blue of sea and sky are the signature of the 220 Cycladic islands. Villages often look like organic reefs that have grown out of the sea clinging to the cliffsides or up the sides of mountains. They showcase the centuries old ingenuity of the Greek culture adapting to the necessity to conserve space while still expressing their expansive vision. The Cycladic chain includes twenty of Greece's main inhabitated islands, each having evolved its own character, based upon its unique geography, materials and history.


As residents and visitors stroll through narrow alleyways they see glimpses of blue shutters and doors, balconies covered with bouganvillas and flowers, and another strata of life perched on roof tops overlooking the alleyways below. During the summer the white walls reflect the intense Greek sun, whilst the densely packed buildings provide shelter from the fierce winds that can blow in as the high season fades in late September. Each locale adapts accordingly with the building materials that are available - stone, straw bricks, caves, etc.


Because of its sculptured beauty, human scale and integrated style, the Cycladic islands are often described as fairylands or movie sets. And indeed their beauty has attracted many an artist and sculpturer who have added to the indigenous architectural artform.