CULTURE

A cup, a mug and a creamer: Minas moves into porcelain

A simplification of luxury or luxurious simplicity? Whatever the definition, the work of Minas, these days, is all about beauty and utility, as the Greek designer has come out with his first porcelain collection. «These were scattered thoughts and the time came to bring them together,» said Minas to Kathimerini English Edition. Just like Minas’s jewelry, the china collection is a signature series by a designer that is far removed from decorative embellishment, focusing instead on shape and practicality. It is vintage Minas, with the designer looking for new solutions. «I have a problem, and that is that I believe that everything that already exists has to be redesigned all over again,» he said. And so the designer measured the palm of the hand, the distance between the hand and the fingers, creating new molds based on a sense of three-dimensional space. The result is a china collection that includes a coffee cup and saucer in an intricate design completing their own balancing act; an espresso cup and saucer; a mug with a well-thought-out handle; a creamer that can also be used for milk, sauces and dressings; a sugar bowl which can also hold marmalade, or butter, or even chocolate souffle; salt and pepper shakers, a follow-up of the original Minas silver version; a delicate-looking single flower vase; a single candle holder with an easy-to-remove tea candle; and a soap dish which leaves the soap dry after use. All in white, the collection features a thin line along the rim (the designer calls this a lip line) in a choice of black, blue, red, silver and gold, except for the salt and pepper shakers (available only in black) and the soap dish. «The touch of color is there because I had to come to terms with what people want,» said the designer. «The lip line is a finish, a visual aid.» Born in Athens in 1938, the designer landed an apprenticeship in an established jewelry workshop at the age of 15. Eight years later he was a designer himself and in 1969 he moved to New York, where he soon began developing his fresh creations, displaying them in jewelry shops in the USA and Europe. The designer returned to Greece in 1980, and established his studio in Nea Ionia – the neighborhood he was born in. There he began a limited production of pieces, signing every item, a practice he continues today. Minas’s jewelry designs are renowned for their simple elegance. Take the «Lovers» pendant, for instance, whose components have been entangled in an embrace since they were designed in 1973. The same timeless quality applies to the sterling silver pencil cup designed in 1992 or even the curvaceous shaving set, developed in 1994. But there are also items such as key holders, corkscrews, paperweights and rulers. «I sell a piece of metal,» said Minas of his jewelry. «It is so bare that in order to make it attractive I have to give it a design.» The designer also enjoys a few high-caliber collaborations with giants such as Scandinavian silversmithing powerhouse Georg Jensen (for whom he designed a wristwatch) and fine china manufacturer Royal Copenhagen, for whom he made the Bebe Cup in 1996. Over the years, Minas has also ventured into furniture design – principally for personal use, though orders are possible. Meanwhile, the china collection, whose design and execution were carried out in a year, is manufactured by Ionia, Greece’s sole porcelain manufacturer. For the time being, it is on sale at Studio Minas in Nea Ionia and at The Minas Shop on Myconos. The Museum of Cycladic Art, which already carries Minas jewelry, will also be displaying the porcelain pieces. As for the future, Minas plans to further develop the china collection, adding a set of plates. Based on his design logic, these will no doubt feature clarity of thought and purity of silhouette, for this local and global designer’s work transcends fashion and achieves a sense of universality, where the past meets the future. Through his minimalist, stark and strict forms, Minas’s inspiration can be traced to antiquity. «I’m very proud to be Greek, it gives me a basis,» said the designer. «What I do goes beyond trends, and has more to do with ancient tradition than with fashion in contemporary design.»