Forefather inspiration

cropped benaki sperveri card

30 Nov Forefather inspiration


Contemporary design often has layers of inspiration embedded within the final creation. The steki‘s choice of Christmas card for you this year, designed by Studiolav, is a beautiful representation of the influence the old can have on the new.

The Benaki Museum in Greece has a bold tradition of collaborating with the best of contemporary Greek product designers. Their mission is to bring their archives and exhibits alive though modern reinterpretations that can act as an aide to understanding the original pieces and offer everyone the opportunity to take a piece home.

Studiolav are one of those contemporary teams that have been able to put their own twist to the Museum’s riches. The team, made up of Loukas Angelou and Vasso Asfi, has an immense range of skills that are piled into product and interior design projects around the world. Their key motivation is to focus on emotional connections between people, objects and their environments and source inspiration from traditions and daily encounters to create new stories in their collections.

So, the result of their collaboration with the Benaki Museum is a culmination of all those ingredients. In this instance, they’ve used graphic design as their language for reinterpreting a fabric design and its story, and have created an exclusively designed Christmas Card. On its face, its a beautifully crafted piece of graphic design, but dig into the archives and there’s an older story.

Studiolav - Christmas Cards - Benaki Museum

The Studiolav Christmas Card has roots in post-Medieval Greece and all the way from its far-flung Dodecanese islands. The seed for the design has come from a very rare collection of ‘sperveri‘ fabrics from the island of Patmos that the Museum holds.

Studiolav - Benaki - Christmas Card - sperveri

A ‘sperveri‘? That was the, often heavily, embroidered canopy or tent placed over the marriage bed in order to provide privacy for the new couple (a rare, and stunning, complete example pictured right).

These tents, only ever embroidered by the female members of the family as you might expect, also formed part of the girl’s dowry. Which also explains why so few have remained in existence – the tent was often broken up into its constituent parts to multiply the dowry.

The particular piece Studiolav took inspiration from is pictured on the left. This panel will have formed the ‘entrance’ to one such tent.

Whilst the deviation in styles between the sperveri and the card design is stark, the mirroring of symmetries, patterns and imagery from the 17th-18th Century on its journey to a 21st Century graphic design is subtly prednisone evident.

benaki museum - sperveri

The steki is lucky enough to have a limited number of these exclusive designs for sale for its readers. Explore the cards here and if you liked their story share using the buttons up above.


Photos courtesy of The Benaki Museum

Portfolios on the steki

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