CULTURE

A company’s concept of art design

A trend that began a few years ago in Greece is gathering momentum: Museums are perfecting their shops and transforming them into effective poles of attraction and a source of revenue for the museum. With variety as an important factor, museum shops do not just include reproductions of their original, permanent collection holdings, but are branching out toward a broader gamut of «art objects.» A pioneer in that direction has been the Benaki’s Pireos branch art shop. Although this tendency could be seen as a mere marketing tool, the truth is that the objects available at museum art shops have helped indoctrinate a museum’s collection into people’s minds. Somehow, a museum art shop plays a kind of educational role, it is a museum’s communication point with the broader public. This communicative aspect of museum art shops is what led artist Evgenia Manolioudaki and her brother Andreas Manolioudakis, founders of «M art Manolioudakis» (www.m-art.gr), to collaborate with the Museum of Cycladic Art on two different projects: the design of objects d’art that are not copies of original pieces but are inspired by them, and the launch (in the first weekend of October) of workshops that will help introduce children aged 5-12 to the museum’s permanent collection by teaching them micro-sculpture and jewelry-making techniques. Run by Evgenia Manolioudaki, a designer of art objects and jewelry and the creative person behind M art Manolioudakis, this interactive workshop which will run throughout the year in three-month-long series is intended to communicate knowledge by using a creative process. Communication is a key word for this family-run, 10-year-old company. With «We create, you communicate» as its logo, M art Manolioudakis was founded on the belief that design (art objects or jewelry) can enhance communication. The idea was to integrate the applied arts into everyday life. Andreas Manolioudakis, who studied international business and marketing at New York University, contributed his entrepreneurial talent, while his sister, who studied micro-sculpture and jewelry in London, took on the creative side. Evgenia designs all the objects and jewelry that express a contemporary aesthetic and uses diverse materials. Although M art Manolioudakis recently entered the retail market (a jewelry collection that alternates each season is presented at the Attica department store), this was not always the case. The company began by designing the gifts that large companies offer to their clients on special occasions and during festivities. With many designers available in the market, competition in the field has now grown, yet what differentiates M art Manolioudakis from most other companies is, according to Andreas Manolioudakis, the preparatory work that precedes the final design. M art’s team (no more than eight people on its permanent staff) looks into the marketing mechanisms of each company and opts for art objects that reflect the client’s profile as accurately as possible. What is also unusual about them is that they implement all the stages that go into the making of an art object, from its design to its manufacturing. However, aiming for perfection does not always ensure a long clientele list. Andreas Manolioudakis explains that 10 years ago the problem was that most companies offered unimaginative presents to their clients. Now, problems come from the mass-produced, inexpensive imported objects from China which companies choose over a more creative design so as to save on expenses. This situation may be one of the reasons that M art Manolioudakis has branched out into other creative ventures. For the past four years, the company has organized «Bazart,» an annual, late-fall bazaar that involves artists and designers from different fields (fashion, jewelry or interior designers as well as artists and actors). «Bazart» (bazaar and art) takes place at a central venue in Athens and the proceeds are given to charity. This year the bazaar will be held over the course of three weekends and at a different museum each time. It will also be organized in Thessaloniki (in collaboration with one of the city’s large organizations) for the first time. Despite its contribution to charity, the bazaar is an opportunity for designers to show their work and for artists to experiment with new ideas and media. It is a project that has grown out of M art Manolioudakis’s intention to encourage creativity in the field of design. It is with this in mind that Evgenia and Andreas Manolioudakis are planning to open a «design center» in the near future. The center, probably to open a year from now, will be a retail spot yet will also encompass the workshops of other participating designers within the same space. It is an ambitious project that will help give design a more solid niche in the market and continue the Manolioudakises vision of making design a greater part of our lives.