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Azure July August 2023

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Athens- and New York-based design studio Objects of Common Interest was one of the biggest stars of Milan Design Week 2023, presenting work across three separate venues — and delighting spectators at every step of the way.

A portrait of Objects of Common Interest co-founders Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis.
PHOTO: Thomas Razzano

For founding principals Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, this design trifecta was the latest chapter in an ongoing pursuit of designs that are equal parts experimental and experiential. (A perfect example is their fall 2021 exhibition at New York’s Noguchi Museum, “Hard, Soft and All Lit Up with Nowhere to Go”. By leaning giant tubular glow sticks against Isamu Noguchi’s basalt rock carvings — plus introducing new totems that mirrored his silhouettes in inflated transparent plastic — the duo used simple forms to add new depth to their surroundings.)

That Petaloti and Trampoukis are so adept at enriching already profound settings should come as no surprise given that their industrial design practice is the sister operation of their other business, LOT office for architecture. The two pursuits often find ways to overlap.

Here, we recap the big accomplishments that made Objects of Common Interest the stars of Milan Design Week 2023.

A collection of glowing, ghostly furniture presented in front of chain-mail curtains in an industrial warehouse setting.
PHOTO: Ruy Teixeira
Poikilos at Nilufar Depot

The most arresting glow at Milan Design Week came from Object of Common Interest’s group of sculptural furnishings made of glossy, semi-transparent resin. Presented at design gallery Nilufar Depot, the 13-piece collection took its name — Poikilos — from an ancient Greek word that roughly translates to “multicoloured” and was typically used to describe glimmering feathers or slick fur.

An iridescent table and stool designed by Objects of Common Interest shown during Milan Design Week 2023 at Nilufar Depot on white display podiums.
PHOTO: Ruy Teixeira

“The term has the feeling of movement, surprise and unexpectedness of what variations can bring,” says Trampoukis. In keeping with that definition, Poikilos was a study in iridescence. From some angles, its fluid shapes appeared pearly white — only to transform into a swirling pool of pastels a moment later.

An iridescent dining table designed by Objects of Common Interest shown during Milan Design Week 2023 at Nilufar Depot.
PHOTO: Ruy Teixeira

“By presenting just one material, we drove attention away from formal details to focus on a larger idea: a choreography of lines and curves and light,” Trampoukis continues. “It became this calming theatrical environment.”

A resin stool made of four resin discs stacked Jenna-style.
PHOTO: Ana Santl x Mia Dorier

Behind the elegantly staged exhibition was an appropriately mythical origin story. “Many years ago, I met Ovidiu Colea, a Romanian man who moved to America early in his life,” Petaloti explains. “From his Long Island workshop, he spent years experimenting with resin and developed innovative recipes that were never used before — and that we’ve now inherited and developed further.”

A resin coffee table.
PHOTO: Ambra Crociani

Here, Colea’s formula was used to create “a cohesive family of elemental domestic pieces” including tables, chairs, vases and lamps — all sculpted, moulded and cast by hand in Greece. “Resin is known for its machined, perfect-cut surfaces — but in this show, the gently organic forms reveal our process in their tactility,” says Trampoukis. 

A clear blow-up water fountain designed by Objects of Common Interest installed at Alcova during Milan Design Week 2023.
Echoes at Alcova

Trampoukis and Petaloti had even more tricks up their sleeve in Milan. Their second big unveiling — an inflatable fountain that anchored the front courtyard of group exhibition Alcova — reduced a civic landmark to its most basic elements.

A close-up of the blow-up plastic that gives the water fountain its shape.

“Fountains are often commissioned as a permanent feature — magnificent and heroic,” says Petaloti. “But this is a totally portable element that can be packed, transported and reinstalled literally anywhere.” In other words, effective placemaking — to go.

A red, yellow and purple rug designed by Objects of Common Interest and shown installed on a concrete wall in a grey room during Milan Design Week 2023.
PHOTO: Alejandro Ramirez
Moiré by CC-Tapis

Objects of Common Interest staged its final Milan Design Week act at the CC-Tapis showroom on Piazza Santo Stefano. Petaloti describes Moiré, the brand’s new series of jacquard-woven rugs, as “containers of life — cut-outs of larger worlds, freezing a moment in time.” Featuring jagged, loopy and sawtooth-edged borders, the silhouettes actively reshape the space around them.

A close-up of the three rugs' edges, which are wavy, zig-zagged and jagged.
PHOTO: Alejandro Ramirez

Much like the iridescent furniture at Poikilos and the blow-up water fountain at Alcova, the designs encouraged a fresh perspective with each new turn. Consider our interest officially piqued.

How Objects of Common Interest Came to Rule Milan Design Week

Across three different venues, the design studio won over many new admirers.

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