A feature in last month’s issue of AirFrance on-flight Magazine, “The Regeneration of Athens in 10 points”, explored Greek entrepreneurship and innovation in modern day Athens, the crisis stricken Greek capital that calls for a fresh look at Greek heritage.
The magazine begins its tour by Zeus+Δione, a luxury brand that features exclusive handmade products as an embodiment of Hellenic heritage in the form of modern everyday items ranging from clothes, jewelry and footwear to small furniture.
Innovative entrepreneurs venture also into renovating some of Athens’ noble neoclassical buildings of the early 20th-century, re-purposing them into concept stores. Philos Athens, a multifunctional meeting place for fashionistas, aspires to create a cultural community through live artistic events in its hip café and brings together selected fashion and design products, household goods and cosmetics, mainly from foreign brands and soon from Greek designers, such as the Rainy July handmade summer accessories and the Athenian Hipstar souvenirs.
Natural cosmetics has been rapidly growing sector in Greece, and Athenian companies have been earning worldwide reputation: Apivita, a leading company with a holistic approach to beauty and products that combine naturally derived active ingredients and treatments based on beehive products; Korres, with formulas and concoctions based on natural ingredients; Agema, whose products are developed with respect to and in union with nature.
Despite the economic crisis, ambitious construction projects are under way in the Greek capital and a ‘new temple of culture’ is arising: The monumental Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is anticipated to have a positive socioeconomic impact on Athens when it opens in 2017. It will house the National Library and the Greek National Opera, surrounded by a metropolitan park.
Athens’ younger generation redefines the traditional concept of tourism offering a different way of discovering the city’s secrets. Alternative Athens, allows tourists to experience the city as if they were true locals, discovering non-touristic neighborhoods,visiting places where the Athenians eat, shop and have fun in their everyday life, along with exploring new, uncharted locations that are just emerging.
In a city that’s paradise for food lovers, full of places where you can enjoy typical dishes and refined flavors, there is a passion for spices and aromatic herbs. Historic Evripidou Street host 15 spice and 12 food stores and new online companies like Daphnis and Chloe seek out and bring to starred gourmet restaurants, like Hytra, the best hand-picked varieties of dried, sun-gorged herbs.
A generation of young artists in recent years is also changing the city, finding its way to Athens’ top contemporary galleries. Promising artists take advantage of low rents in the capital and new galleries have emerged to promote them, like The Breeder, established in an abandoned ice-cream factory in the former Metaxourgio industrial zone.
Inspired by faces and landmarks of Greek experience, and implementing projects ranging from historic memory to trade and advertising, young Greek designers are reinterpreting their heritage and play on the concept of the souvenir gift: We Design has launched its Greece Revisited series of products, which are inspired by Greek mythology, nature, history and everyday life; Greece is for Lovers has introduced a new sense of ‘Greekness’ to contemporary product design by mixing a concoction of the country’s spiciest ingredients: humor, irony, nonchalance and extravagance; Studio Lav has transformed the ubiquitous and iconic tin container (used to store and transport olive oil and feta cheese, and commonly reused as a flower pot in many Greek gardens) into a shopping bag, drawing inspiration from heritage, tradition and everyday encounters.
As far as accommodation is concerned, young Athenians seem willing to provide tourists with various alternatives to the capital’s many hotels. Cases in point are: the City Circus Hostel, an alternative space for those who want to “dwell in the surreal, embrace the weird and explore with freedom”; Live In Athens, beautiful short-stay apartments in the center of Athens for those who want to experience the city the way only locals do; Alice Inn Athens, a unique microboutique B&B concept located at the foot of the Acropolis; Coco-Mat, a new hotel in Kolonaki, whose unique hospitality concept reflects the values of the luxurious, natural mattresses company that is behind it.
A Sunday stroll around Monastiraki in the historic center of Athens is the perfect way to end the week with flocks tourists and locals who browse around the popular Athens’ flea market and the area’s numerous trendy cafés and authentic restaurants.