10 Questions With... Objects of Common Interest

In 2016, you may have relaxed on Flatiron Sky-Line, an installation of hammocks suspended from white steel arches in Madison Square Park, opposite the iconic New York building. Or perhaps you visited the site-specific Untitled, a series of brick-like glass furnishings for the VIP lounge at Collective Design 2018, held in New York this past weekend. What you may not know about Leonidas Trampoukis and Eleni Petaloti, who founded LOT Architecture in 2012 and design studio Objects of Common Interest three years later, is that their fascination with ancient geometry and materiality informs their approach from every angle. This passion can be traced to their Greek upbringing, a background felt in their designs, which range in scale from luxurious retreats in Mykonos to an Acropolis-inspired side table. Between managing offices in Athens and New York and conceiving their next Instagram-worthy installation, the husband-and-wife duo sat down to unpack their Collective Design installation and clue us in to what we should expect in 2018. 

Interior Design: Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your work?

Leonidas Trampoukis: In Thessaloniki, Greece, five minutes away from each other. We had a great connection with the outdoors and access to the sea half an hour away. Living among nature has influenced how we think about materials, spaces, and their connection with inside and outside.

Eleni Petaloti: There is great craftsmanship in Greece and you see it everywhere: people making things, fixing, reusing.

ID: What are a few recent projects?

LT: Two installations that we consider a series in thought. First, the Design Talks Theater for DesignMiami/ 2017, in collaboration with Maharam, and Untitled, the VIP lounge for Collective Design 2018. Spectacle at DesignMiami/ celebrated flexibility with movable fabric elements. Untitled was a fixed composition of clustered glass-block seating islands. Both are still-life geometric installations that urge interaction. We’re also working on Devoción Café, a boutique Colombian roastery, along with renovating two Brooklyn town houses and building an eight-floor student residence in Greece.

Untitled at Collective Design 2018. Image courtesy of Objects of Common Interest.

ID: Tell me more about Untitled.

EP & LT: We used custom glass blocks to create clusters of floating islands, transforming the space into a textural and abstract installation. We scattered formations of glass-brick furniture to form seating arrangements on hard surface carpets and cut-in-shape acrylic surfaces in warm, earthy tones and textures. A white wide-meshed net separated the lounge from fair grounds, offering glimpses inside while shrouding the space in a transparent white overlay.

ID: What’s next?

EP: A full creative year! We’re showing at Gallery Bensimon in Paris, MATTER in New York, and Martinos in Athens, and launching collaborations with Mattermade and Bloc Studios at Salone del Mobile in Milan. We’ll also show new objects during NYCxDESIGN with Sight Unseen, and in June, we’re designing installations at the entry of ART ATHINA with another European gallery. And more is in the works.

ID: What inspired you to found Objects of Common Interest?

EP: It started as a game of translating sketches into objects. It’s smaller scale and faster paced than architecture, but of equal importance to us.

Layer Stools by Objects of Common Interest. Photography by Mattheu Salvaing.

ID: What are some challenges designing objects versus buildings and interiors?

EP: Architecture, which happens slower and more in depth, takes more energy and effort but is extremely rewarding. Designing objects is energetic and requires on-the-spot decision making and intuition.

ID: What’s it like managing offices in Greece and New York?

LT: It involves communicating efficiently and working with people you trust. We are very lucky to have Isabel Sarasa Mené, Vincent Meyer Madaus, Anastasia Maggouta, and Eirini Doumani, our core team leaders in both offices.

ID: How does your Greek heritage inform your design sensibilities?

EP: It’s subconscious but deeply ingrained in our aesthetics. It comes from heirlooms our parents received from past generations, indoor/outdoor living, and a sense of informality with high cultural and historical values.

ID: Which person, place, or thing—inside the industry or out—inspires you?

EP: Isamu Noguchi. And Greece's landscape—the contrast of sun and shadow, indoors and outdoors, water and land—is ingrained in us.

Plane Side Table in cast marble and acrylic with Relativity of Color bowl, vase, and cup in hand-blown glass and cast acrylic. Photography by Brooke Holm.

ID: Favorite paint color?

LT: We recently used a color combination for a table and bench we designed and fabricated as prototype for our home that will become a new line of objects. We used Benjamin Moore's Natura series: Lenape Trail (nude) and Powell Gray (blue-gray).

ID: Best thing about your job?

EP: Never having a routine.

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