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Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

our insider's guides to Athens begin with tips from internationally renowned architect...

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis
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What do I think sets Athens apart from the likes of London, New York and Paris? More unpredictable and adventurous, endlessly discoverable blue skies, unique colours and climate...

As part of the Athens Matters collaboration with YES! Hotels, that we announced earlier this week, we had the pleasure of speaking to Theodore Zoumboulakis, founder of eponymous studio Zoumboulakis Architects, a company that – since its launch in 1995 – has quite rightly gained a highly-regarded international reputation, employing five architects and two designers.

Houses, restaurants, galleries and international boutiques – such as Hermes, Madison Avenue, New York – have all been realised by Zoumboulakis and his team. As we continue to unearth Athens’ hidden gems, and get under the skin of the city through some of its most influential residents, what better than through the eyes of a designer who has had a hand in some of the city’s most inspiring venues; Periscope‘s πBox Restaurant, and arts and culture venue Zoumboulakis Galleries, to name but two.

A passionate Athenian, we were keen to find out more…

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Photo © We Heart

Hello Theodore, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I founded Zoumboulakis Architects in 1995, a full service architecture and design practice with a project portfolio ranging from residencies, private holiday houses, high-end retail shops and offices. I studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens (1989) and received a Master of Architecture from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). My professional experience commenced at the Dagmar Richter Studio, Los Angeles whereby I worked on private projects whilst also participating in architectural exhibitions. Since 1991, I have been a principal collaborator of the Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure (RDAI), Paris whereby I undertook the design and construction supervision of various Hermes boutique shops worldwide.

Have you lived in Athens your whole life?

I lived in LA for two years during my graduate studies, then moved to Paris where I worked for more than seven years for Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure, then for several years shared my time between Athens and Paris.

Do you think that living in Athens has an effect on the way you work?

In my opinion, the implementation of more sophisticated level of architectural details is in many cases challenging as opposed to rather traditional construction habits.

What do you think of architecture in Athens compared to the rest of the world?

I believe that the ‘weight’ of ancient Greek heritage sometimes restricts architects’ creativity. I think that the city could host more striking and contemporary buildings.

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, courtesy of Shutterstock

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Photo © We Heart

Can you give us your top 5 tips for someone with just 48 hours to spend in Athens?

1. Walk through Historical Athens… Starting with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Dionysus Theater, the Filippapou ancient paths, Pnyka, the Ancient and Roman Agora, and ending in Plaka.

2. Visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum

3. Walk from old to contemporary Athens… From the meat and fish markets of Monastiraki to the fashion boutiques of Voukourestiou pedestrian street, with a coffee break at Agia Irini’s place.

4. Visit the city centre’s museums (Cycladic – Benaki – Benaki Islamic, EMST, Byzantine Museum)

5. Journey to the Poseidon temple in Sounion with a stop at a waterfront fish tavern (i.e Lambros at Vouliagmeni).

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Zoumboulakis Galleries © Zoumboulakis Architects

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Transistor, courtesy of 24901

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Periscope, πBox Restaurant

A few quick-fire questions on your favourite spots: to find the city’s best art… Bernier / Eliades, Ileana Tounta, Rebecca Camhi, Breeder, Zoumboulakis Galleries. …your favourite shops… Eleftheroudakis book store, the Mastiha shop, Carpo, Zoumboulakis art design and antique shop …restaurants… Scala Vinoteca, πBox at Periscope Hotel, Tamarind Thai restaurant, Ratka, New hotel – brunch, Mama Roux, Café Abyssinia …to party… Salon de Bricolage (private club), Osterman, Faust, Tailor Made, Transistor, Tsin Tsin …and to relax… The terrace at the Hilton Hotel with a great view of Athens.

What do you think sets Athens apart from the likes of London, New York and Paris?

More unpredictable and adventurous, endlessly discoverable blue skies, unique colours and climate.

Finally, could you tell us in one sentence why people should come to Athens?

This is the only city where one can discover so many historical layers of civilization.

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Scala Vinoteca © KK Architects

Athens Matters; Theodore Zoumboulakis

Cafe Abyssinia, © Robert Wallace

Athens Matters; YES! Hotels x We Heart