Sisters Niki and Zoe Moskofoglou are the incredibly talented, contemporary marble designers and sculptors of on•entropy. I’ve known them for many years and I have witnessed their creativity develop and constanlty peak, leading them to represent Greece in the first ever London’s Design Biennale, themed “Utopia by Design”.
Their marble designs, a sophisticted mix of contempoary and ancient greek kallos, never seize to amaze me! Whether it is furnishing, lighting, interior decoration or an art project, they deliver it with great refiness and elegance. Marble, the protagonist of on•entropy, is inevitably connected with Greece, its ancient history and modern world. So, their creations manifest this country’s tales with a very stylish and contemporary take.
As you will see, this interview was done in the spirit of girlfriends getting together and trying to retain a balance between interview questions, giggles and coffee. I left their studio gifted with a gorgeous on.entropy marble star that now prominently sits on my desk and has become my lucky, blogging charm!
What was the idea behind on·entropy? And what does the name mean?
on•entropy is an atelier that experiments with marble, form and light. Marble may at first instance come across as heavy and compact, but at the same time, it is vulnerable fragile and translucent. We founded on· entropy in 2009 to capture this contradiction,both physically and conceptually, reflecting the spiritual and sentimental aspect of marble.
Entropy has a number of definitions, mainly within thermodynamics, which overall revolve around the transformation of energy. Within our realm, form and light interplay with marble. On·entropy’s founding mission is to experiment with marble and its entropy, meaning its transformation potential and inherent limitations. As an end result, we see the craftsmanship of intricate and delicate designs, evolving the diachronic qualities of marble in an imaginative contemporary way.
How did you decide to work specifically with Marble?
It started off as experimentation, when Niki was having her house refurbished and was looking for furnishing and lighting. Never been pleased with what was available around, she started designing her own lights and tables with a material she was familiar with, that is marble!
Our relationship with marble goes way back. As our father was a mining consultant, we have been brought up in an environment characterized by marble and quarry. Quarry visits was a favourite pastime and our childhood memories of holidays are dominated by “quarry- hunting”. The scenery of a mountain being shaped by a quarry is much imprinted in our minds. Equally, the smell of marble dust is a very familiar sense to us, that of our father coming back home.
During our ‘previous’ professional careers as an architect (Niki) and an engineer (Zoe), we nurtured this bond, developing our knowledge and technique through constant experimentation with different design forms and construction methods. So, I suppose we both gradually developed a strong and conscious bond with the material and its place of origin, which made us respect its nature and want to challenge its potential.
How difficult is it to find good Marble?
It is very easy and very difficult at the same time. In the Mediterranean region and in countries like Greece, where the geological substratum is rich, it should not be hard to find good quality and unique types of marble. However, the infrastructure is not always available and, in that sense, it can be hard.
And then, there is another element that makes “marble hunting” a more challenging, but to us uber-exciting, venture: due to its natural way of formation, the quality of marble can change even within the same quarry. And to us, this is the beauty of it, finding that particular seam of marble that suits our project’s requirements and the form designed.
In which ways do you two sisters complement each other at work?
Our studio work is really a family affair. Although we have been brought up by the same two parents, our personalities are quite different but very complementary to each other. It’s almost like fire and air; one needs the other to spark. Running a studio with such a versatile spectrum of activities requires all sort of creative skills, ranging from management, design and promotion to construction, product quality control & delivery, research etc. We each have stronger and weaker skills.
Communicating on a day-to-day basis is our strongest skill. Some days in the studio we are acting more like sisters and some more like business partners. We have had to learn to choose “which hat to put on” and we always have a deep understanding of each other’s perspective.
Decision making is another complementary field. Respecting the different personality not only helps us succeed in each different area, but it also helps us have a healthy and happy work life. We are grateful to be able to do what we love with someone we love!
Can you describe the concept behind your Art piece designed especially for the London Design Biennale?
Marble is an archetypal Greek material; from prehistoric Cycladic figurines to the works of the Acropolis, marble carries a significant cultural weight.
So, for the representation of Greece at the London Design Biennale’s theme “Utopia by Design”, we looked into and expanded the symbolisms of marble. To us, marble served as a useful metaphor for the shifting social and cultural patterns caused by migration, and for the paradoxes, continuities and disruptions of utopia: imperfections, veins and natural flaws render marble a map with deltas, uneven terrain and infinite routes.
Our “Utopia”, interpreted not as an ideal place but as a “no-place”, took place in a 30m high marble cave at the quarry of Dionysos. In that daunting space, you get a feeling of placelessness, a sense of being nowhere, a feeling of being lost, of dreaming & reinventing. Having this cultural landscape as a backdrop, our ultimate goal was to reflect on how materiality and craftsmanship of marble can help determine the human relationship with place (topos) and enable a sense of belonging.
What are your future projects?
We are currently expanding our presence in the UK and other European galleries and institutions, as well as setting up our new online gallery “WARPLE”. At the same time, we are building on our interiors portfolio, which has been increasingly picking up.
For the future, we are planning more interactive collaborations with performance artists of various fields. Our aspirations are limitless and we work hard to make them come true, we hope we can carry on this way for a long time!
Photo credit: Anna Tagkalou