Alexandros Kotoulas is a Greek designer, founder of the emerging brand alexquisite. Design backpacks, soft lines and neutral colours with a simplistic attitude is the main content of his work. We were very intersted in his approach, so we contacted and discussed with him abou his current state, the manufacture process of these beautiful hand-crafted backpacks and much more.
During our communication for this interview, you graduated from the Eindhoven Design Academy. What are the most important lessons you`ve learnt there not only about yourself but also about the design in general?
While studying in the Design Academy, I realised that this school is focused not only on the knowledge of concept, material and form, but a lot in individual personalities also. It became easier for me to feel confident for what I like and try to support it in the right arguments. But definitely the most essential lesson was about the importance of reflecting to your own work. Thinking and analysing before making is of course fundamental but there is another equally crucial step; taking distance from your own work, being able to disconnect from it and make a conclusion about this process.
As you`ve graduated from the Department of Civil Engineering AUTH too, a guestion often a rises for people like you: “Why didn`t you keep up abroad with what you`ve studied?”`. Although, it seems more interesting to me to ask you what are the connections and interrelations you can detect between these fields and in what particular ways a designer can be benefited by being an engineer as well?
It was quite clear during my former studies that after graduating I would move to something more creative. I didn’t really doubt about this decision. But to be honest, I cannot say that the two subjects are really connected, at least in my case. I am mainly focused in conceptual product design, where the technical details are not such a big part of my process. So the main equipment was not the technical knowledge but more the attitude and the constructive way of working. Engineering school was quite demanding and entering the very competitive Design Academy after these years in the Polytechnic school was definitely an advantage.
Let`s talk about your brand. Why alexguisite is `soft design`?
My brand is actually me, is not something that I developed in parallel. And after some years of experimentations, I concluded that my interest lays on the softness of things. Soft materials, soft surfaces, but not only by themselves but applied as well. Under alexquisite I am trying to gather my latests projects that fulfil my view on design. It’s all about materials, colours, textures, and all these together creates a softness that it’s not only for the hands but for the eyes too.
How closely do you monitor the manufacture and processing of your crafting materials? Do you consider yourself as a creator standing over his work during all stages of the process?
Until now, all the pieces I have designed, I have executed myself. This is the usual way of working over the last years, and have found it very constructive. By making what you have on paper, you see the details, the problems and the proportions immediately in front of you. In the development of materials this is even more important. Experimentation is the core of the process and you have to be always present because the decisions need to be made on spot and quickly.
Could you name the virtues of fine design? How do you aspire to adapt or integrate them in your work?
Honesty and simplicity are the principles I try to follow . Everything needs to be there for a reason. Simplicity leads to a final product that is immediately comprehensible from the user piece, but easy to produce at the same time. I think of design as the process of simplifying your initial idea to a stage that cannot be more explicit.
One of the most dominant trends in design (objects, graphics, etc.) and photography as featured on websites and social media, is minimalism, monochromatic images, the-so-called `white addiction` and similar styles. Do you have an explanation for that?
I am actually part of this addiction too, as you can see on my blog (alex-quisite.tumblr.com). And I believe it derives from the overload of information and images in our era. The amount of visual input we have to confront in daily basis leads us to search for inspiration in a way that is more easily digestible; simple setting, neutral backgrounds, unsaturated hues.
Have you ever considered how design could be affected by the consolidation of 3d printers?
Unfortunately I am not a big fan of 3D printing. It’s a bit far off what I like to communicate with my work, so my opinion would not be very objective. But I definitely agree that it is a great tool for rapid prototyping and can have great impact not only in design but in science and medicine.
What are your short-term plans? Are we going to see your backpacks widely available in Greece?
At the moment, just a couple of weeks after graduating, I am mainly interested to gain experience and expand my network. I am focusing in collaborations both in Greece and abroad in products, textiles and concept developing. As far as the backpacks are concerned they are already available online for Greece, and at the moment i am talking with some showrooms as well.
Thank you very much, Alexandre!