Andria Mitsakos: Redefining Sustainability by Weaving Heritage into Modern Design - 30A

BOOK YOUR STAY ON 30A!

Andria Mitsakos: Redefining Sustainability by Weaving Heritage into Modern Design

By: Carrie Honaker | Posted May 17, 2024

For Andria Mitsakos, travel breeds tolerance and serves as a constant source of inspiration.

She grew up surrounded by creatives. One grandmother made shoes, another wove textiles on a loom, her great-aunt dealt in antiques, her great-great-grandfather was a jeweler in Armenia, and her mother, an interior designer, dragged her around to flea markets all over the world. Her wanderlust continued as she launched her namesake public relations agency, AMPR, 21 years ago, but she still dabbled in design.

In 2010, she began designing handbags that quickly became the envy of her friends. Following her move back to Greece, she expanded her creative repertoire to include accessories, decorative arts, and furniture. In 2023, Mitsakos opened the doors to the Anthologist showroom in Athens, in a lovingly renovated 1912 Neoclassical building in Athens’ emerging Plateia Anexartisias.



In her downtown Athens studio, a wall of fabrics and tapestries hangs. Some are from Egypt, others from Armenia. There is also stained glass from Greece, mosaics from Mexico, and more. Each represents her dedication to amplifying the arts in danger of being lost around the world.

“It’s sustainability in two senses: antique and vintage because you’re not buying something new,” said Mitsakos.

“Cultural preservation to me is the new sustainability.

“I’m working with women who make these beautiful tapestries, and they’re able to continue their work while feeding their families and teaching other women how to make the craft as well.”

The work she does with Anthologist craftspeople takes her back to her roots and allows her to continue what her ancestors couldn’t because they fled the country to find a better life in the United States. Living and working in Athens, surrounded by water and ancient temples, she realized that, just like when she was a child and her grandmother made her pencil cases from leftover shoe leather, she could design and make her furniture with found materials and traditional practices.

“Much of what we make for Anthologist involves third- and fourth-generation artisans,” she said. During the pandemic, they maintained production but were required to melt-down old things because they didn’t have access to the raw materials.

“If we don’t continue to create in this process, the trades will die,” 

“Metalwork utilizes ancient techniques, sand molds, and everything done by hand. Ceramic work involves firing in a traditional kiln and then painting by hand. It’s important to preserve this culture. The leather work I do here, all the bags are made by hand the way my grandmother made shoes. When you buy something, it needs to have a story, and at Anthologist, I’m the curator of these stories,” she added.

Surrounded by the Aegean Sea and living in the shadow of the Acropolis, inspiration for her pieces abounds.

“The mystical energy in Greece enables me to focus on storytelling,” she said. “Sometimes I find the story and create an object from that myth, such as the Arion Dolphin. Other pieces are inspired by sea stories like the immigration of my great-grandmother to the United States, which inspired the Seas the Day earrings in my Almas Collection.”

Her great-grandmother crossed the Atlantic Ocean at 15 years old, alone, with no money in her pocket to find a new life in America. Beyond honoring her great-grandmother’s courage, the collection also celebrates her great-great-grandfather, one of Armenia’s most exceptional jewelers, whose story she learned 100 years after his death. “Even our darling Henri, the Hippocampus from my stuffed animal collection, is inspired by the mythical hippocampi that swam in the Mediterranean around the south of France.”

Whether working with women in Cairo to weave their emotions and scenes of daily life through embroidery, turning a national dress from Myanmar into bags and pillows, or finding new audiences for a shoe designer who reminds her of her grandmother’s roots, Mitsakos keeps their legacies alive through their handicrafts.

Mitsakos’ creations can be found online at anthologist.com, at the Anthologist showroom in Athens, on Paros starting in May at Cosme and Parilio, and at Hotel Grande Bretagne Corner’s ever-changing curated selection available year-round.



To learn more, follow Andria’s updates on Instagram (wanderlista). Check out her website online at anthologist.com.

Andria’s Favorite Beach Stays:

We asked Andria Mitsakos to share some of her favorite beaches that have shaped her creative process. The following are her recommendations, places of immense beauty and cultural depth that have each played a pivotal role in honing her artistic vision. Andria reflects that these destinations have served as wellsprings of inspiration, their distinctive landscapes and rich narratives intricately interlacing with the very essence of her design philosophy.

Beaches in Greece

Phāea Blue Palace, Crete

I live in Athens, and while the city is my home, I’m constantly on the lookout for more destinations to explore throughout Greece. Enter: Crete. My family brought me there on summer vacation when I was 10 years old. I was awestruck by the palace of Knossos, and its frescoes with their striking red pigments. I went back in 2006 with a boyfriend and stayed at Blue Palace in Elounda. We spent leisurely mornings on our terrace while I read Victoria Hislop’s The Island, a tale about Spinalonga, the former leper colony just off the coast of the resort and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Maybe it was Hislop’s intimate tale that led me back to Crete again and again, or it could just be the destination’s raw and all-encompassing beauty.

Now Blue Palace is my PR client. Lucky me. Knossos still stands. Crete’s magic awaits, and the boyfriend? While we aren’t together, we still speak about that mystical trip.

Stay: Blue Palace is reborn this summer as a boutique hotel with the same commitment to conscious luxury and uplifting local communities, on a smaller, more intimate scale.

Verina Astra

I’ve been coming to Paros for almost 10 years. It’s one of the few Cycladic islands that has sandy beaches. I can’t reveal my favorite as I don’t want anyone to know about it. But go have lunch at Thalassamou on Aliki beach.

Stay: Cosme, located beachfront in the quaint village of Naoussa, serves as Anthologist’s Parian flagship.

Mitsakos also loves the beaches on Sifnos and recommends staying at Verina Astra for its sprawling panoramic views of the Aegean, especially at night when the stars are on full display.

If you are looking for the smaller, quieter side of Greece, she recommends Antiparos. Only 1,000 people live on this island, but Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are counted among them. Mitsakos says not to miss bites at Casa Fistiki, her go-to when on island.

Isla Holbox, Mexico

Like Greece, Mitsakos feels drawn to Mexico and its ancient roots. She started going there in the early 2000s when Tulum got popular. Though the world knows about Holbox now, she still considers it “…a magical slice of an island framed on one side by seemingly endless white sand.”

Stay: Ser CasaSandra blends art, therapy, spirituality, and integration with nature and the surrounding community to take you on a personal journey to self-awareness.

Antigua

Galley Bay Resort & Spa

My parents have been going to Antigua since the late 1960s. It’s old-school Caribbean, and home to 365 beaches, each more gorgeous than the next.

Stay: Galley Bay Resort & Spa is an adults-only, all-inclusive property where Andria started her PR career in the mid-90s, and still admires the stunning beaches and their commitment to sustainability—their herb, fruit, and vegetable garden seed all dining at the resort.

Palm Island, The Grenadines

Palm Island

Palm Island holds a special place in my heart. Twenty-five years ago, I went there on a scouting mission before the new owners took over the hotel. Today, the island is still only accessed by private launch from nearby Union Island, and it maintains that off-the-radar Caribbean charm. It reminds me of the Caribbean I remember as a kid—that 1970s super chic, with everyone barefoot, women wearing batik, eating lobster on the beach, and drinking coconut water out of a fresh coconut (my parents liked to add a couple shots of rum!).

Stay: Palm Island Resort & Spa has a storied past Mitsakos is drawn to. It was leased in 1966 for 99 years by Americans, John and Mary Caldwell, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines government for US $1/year. In exchange, they had to agree to build a hotel to employ local people. That 10-room hotel has evolved into forty-one luxurious rooms and suites, a sumptuous spa, and two villas for groups of friends or family.

Cap d’Antibes

Hôtel Belles Rives

Considered the birthplace of summer holidays, it’s also where F. Scott Fitzgerald penned Tender Is the Night. The peninsula is located just south of Antibes between Cannes and Nice and features less-crowded beaches and plenty of serene natural landscape.

Stay: Hôtel Belles Rives is one of the only seafront hotels in the region (direct sea access), and resides in the birthplace of of waterskiing. It oozes romance and feels like you’re staying at the home of a fabulous friend. They also have a one-star Michelin restaurant, and a literary prize every June in honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The owners have had the property since the late 1920s and it’s now run by the 4th generation.

 

 

DON'T MISS OUT!

Sign up for 30A's FREE email newsletter

Invalid email address
You can unsubscribe at any time.
Carrie Honaker is a Florida-based freelance writer who is not sure where she will land next, but it will involve messy eating, a spicy Tempranillo, and finding the local dive bar. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Bon Appetit, and others. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @writeonhonaker.

EXPLORE 30A: