Based in Athens, G Design Studio is a small but punchy agency that specialises in colourful, sometimes cheeky identities for the whole gamut of clients from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to some very fancy sparkling wine. But it’s the studio’s recent work in the arts and cultural industries that has particularly captured our attention, with its playful take on Greek history, bold shapes and, of course, optimistic colour palettes.
Founded by designer, teacher and London College of Printing grad Michalis Georgiou and Dimitris Stefanidis, who trained at the Pratt Institute before working at Pentagram New York and Futurebrand in London, G Design Studio is a “dream team” of seven, based in a plant-filled building built by the same architect responsible for transforming the former Royal Palace into the Greek Parliament. You can tell just from chatting to G Design Studio that their sunny demeanour is not just restricted to their work but permeates into the working environment too. For example, each week the studio partakes in a gastronomic quiz where one member of the team cooks lunch for everyone inspired by a current project. The lucky eaters then have to guess who the chef has used as their cooking inspiration.
But back to the work, “clarity, authenticity and emotional resonance” are the most important elements of their approach, explains G Design Studio’s Dimitris Stefanidis. “For us the design process is sometimes far more exciting than the final outcome,” Dimitris tells It’s Nice That. “It fortifies us with positive energy even when we face failures. It is really important to accept rejection without discarding the effort you have made.”
The studio’s identity for Art Athina, one of Europe’s oldest art fairs, drew inspiration from the “timeless” Greek tourism posters of the 1960s, which focused on the city’s strong cultural identity throughout the ages. “Giving retro iconography a modern spin seemed the perfect way to capture the creative spirit of Athens, an ancient city with a resurgent contemporary art scene,” says Dimitris. A celebration of vibrant colours, striking Athenian references, and clean typography, the result is an eye-catching, tongue-in-cheek take on all the cliches associated with classical Greece.
Their work for the Athens National Orchestra also riffed on perceptions of Greek culture, for the new season’s theme of “At Heroic Rhythms”. It mixed bright abstract illustrations of shape-based ‘heroes’ with serif and sans-serif typefaces Grand Gothik and Sauvage Antique and vibrant colours, in order to “mirror the ability of music of bringing together and in harmony differences, cultures and generations”, Dimitris explains. “Colour has been inseparable from our practice. It is one of the strongest elements to consider in any design and clearly is embedded in every person’s collective unconscious.”
Both Dimitris and Michalis are educators at the Vakalo College of Art and Design, as well as Italian design school Raffles Milano, and also recently ran a workshop for 140 graphic design students at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles re-imaging the food economy. This project even led the designers to march down the streets of LA with their homemade billboards, in an impromptu demo calling for the US food industry to be more responsible.
“Educating designers for the present is not an easy task,” says Dimitris, on how this role as an educator influences his own work. “It requires dedication, thinking and continuous research. It puts in perspective your design process and forces you to constantly challenge it. The reward comes when you see your design offsprings succeed in what they do.” With all their wit, passion and clear joie de vivre, we bet G Design Studio make excellent teachers.