Antonis Kalogridis: The Interior Designer’s Tips for Haute Living

A fascinating man’s experience, thought and vision.

Theatre director and interior designer extraordinaire Antonis Kalogridis is behind the fascinating interiors of the Myconian Collection properties on Elia Beach and explains what constitutes luxury in travel.

What are the key ingredients of true luxury in travelling?

The greatest privilege has to do with the destinations – not about choosing the place but about choosing what that place means. Any place you find yourself can be a finish line or a starting line – compensation or inspiration. The defining moment of luxury in travel is bringing the two together, about turning your travels into a revolving door, an experience so strong that it moves you to any direction you choose. You might be travelling to celebrate an achievement, or because you are gathering up the strength to go after one. Ideally, the two should not feel different, because you will always be getting ready to reach a higher peak, and you will always deserve to be rewarded for it.

How does interior design affect a traveller’s experience?

It has to do with that revolving moment. Interior design must make it easier for people to see clearly in all directions, to choose their path among many. At the same time, it must help them to be inspired by what is unique in the specific time and place they find themselves. It is a fine line, like the horizon. Interior design must make you feel good about where you are, but also remind you not to stay still. It has to be the perfect match between the real and the possible, and it must allow guests to break on through to whichever side works best for them.

You’ve done a lot of high-end hospitality work. What do you consider most important in such projects?

I think of space as a body. You know, nobility has always been symbolised by the body –think “blue blood”. That is luxury, and how I see hospitality. It is the blue blood running through the veins of a living organism. It can accommodate a noble mind and a restless soul. So I make up hospitable spaces that allow luxury to run wild in their veins. I make up bodies. When guests live in them, I want them to feel like they are being reborn into the royalty of leisure, that they can bring together their own kingdom. Sure, it is also about objects, placement, colour, patterns, textures – all the things that make up an aesthetic. But to aestheticise literally means “to feel”. So it is ultimately a kingdom of the senses. That is what my spaces, my bodies, are for: To be felt, to be used as the senses that explore and arouse the possibilities of space and the people in it.

“Beauty in the Cyclades is always raw and therefore always present. If you approach it with respect, it is always amenable. My style is equally raw. If it is about luxury, it is a raw luxury.”

How did you combine the architecture of a Cyclades island with your contemporary style to bring them together into reality?

 The Cyclades are unique in that nature here dominates through subtlety. Elytis, the Greek Nobel laureate in Literature, has said that if you were to deconstruct Greece, you would be left with an olive tree, a vine and a boat – “which means it takes as much to put it back together”. Beauty in the Cyclades is always raw and therefore always present. If you approach it with respect, it is always amenable. My style is equally raw. If it is about luxury, it is a raw luxury. Nothing is superfluous. There is no luxury in something you can’t or don’t need to use. So I break down reality and find the best ways to express it. For me, that is the definition of being contemporary.

What has been your most memorable travel experience that you classify as true luxury?

Despite my work in hospitality, I still see myself as primarily a theatre director. I stage experiences and I explore the roles people take on in their lives. Working on these amazing hotels is my way of bringing about the spaces I have always wanted to have available to me; spaces that can take their surroundings and their guests further. These resorts, this Villa Collection, my quest to bring out the Royal, the Imperial element of luxury and to challenge the Avaton of privilege, they are products of my own identity as a Panoptis, as someone who strives to see more and more of what is out there, and to bring it all in my work. It is challenging, but such is the task I choose.