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CTRLZAK is a hybrid studio that integrates different disciplines and cultures. The founders, Katia Meneghini and Thanos Zakopoulos, are both artists and designers in their own right. The Italian-Greek duo’s creations are inspired by their travels and experiences around the world and by their own rich cultural backgrounds. The studio creates artworks, objects and spaces but– above all– situations where people can come together in order to make what really matters: human relations.
CTRLZAK’s projects and extensive research into tradition and cultural context create a new hybrid future by learning from the past. Each project is a story waiting to be told, with a multitude of forms and endings. Each one experiments with diverse methods of narration where irony and symbolism go beyond aesthetics and functionality, in order to activate mechanisms of reflection.
How did your environment inspire you to come up with your product for D3CO?
Everything around us is a source of inspiration and especially the things that many people do not see discarding them as mundane. Travelling is also a very large part of our inspiration pool. Coming into contact with new cultures and diverse environments is fundamental we believe for ones’ cultural and overall education. Through our travels we have come into contact with many different realities and this has become the basis for many projects we have developed. Realities as well that go beyond anthropocentric activities and concern the natural world that surrounds us. In fact every single experience within nature is the biggest inspiration one can have and that’s the basis behind the projects we have developed for D3CO.
Why is sustainability important to you?
In each project we take into consideration many different aspects from functionality to aesthetics and sustainability to semiotics. Of course depending on the nature of the project the attention towards one or another changes even though all of them co-exist and work in unison. For us it is important above all to have an open mind free of preconditions and stereotypes, creating work which is founded on meticulous research and reflection. Sustainability is embedded within each project that we make by default, it is an intrinsic property of creation even though it can take many forms. We believe that without sustainablity in one way or another a novel project nowadays has no reason of existence.
How do you integrate thoughts about sustainability into your creation process?
There are many ways that a design can be sustainable and it depends again on the case. For our part what we try to do with our projects is create awareness. Regardless the nature of the project we try to make people understand the reasons behind it and create an awareness that can bring them to a more sustainable way of life.
Making of Quartz
Has your attitude towards design changed in the last years, how do you see your evolution?
The basis of our creative process and consequently our work is exactly this: observation and study of the natural world that surrounds us and of what humanity has made with it. The natural world is in continuous evolution and contains an enormous amount of information and so is the world of humans. Through our research in our areas of interest we learn new things every day about this amazing planet and the species
that inhabit it and consequently our creative thinking expands and evolves accordingly.
When you designed your D3CO product, what was your ultimate goal you wanted to achieve?
We always try to make projects that make people think. Depending on the issue addressed we try to take our audience always a step further going beyond mere appearances. This was the case as well with the pieces we designed for D3CO.
Does form follow function ?
In our case, this known statement that formed the basis of early product & industrial design has evolved. We believe that in the world we inhabit today, humans have an excess of objects and when one is called to propose a new one it should not simply follow its intended function (or be aesthetically pleasing for that matter). They already exist numerous items that fulfill their purpose adequately and more. It is our
belief that nowadays form should follow meaning creating projects that go beyond function (and aesthetics) without of course neglecting them. As a matter of fact Form Follows Meaning is our studio’s credo.
Making of D/ZEN
How does design change the world?
By creating awareness.
What do you enjoy most about working in design?
Learning, since in every project you can potentially learn new things about the world that surrounds you (of course you need the ‘right’ approach and an open mind regadless the area you are working in).
What is the invisible part of your work, can you describe it to us?
Reading and our connection with the natural world.
Describe the chemistry between different partners on a design job. Is working about good relationships?
We are all humans shaping the world we live in through our actions and interactions between us. We believe that it is important for people to be conscious of their actions and learn from each other regardless the situation the find themselves in. Through our work we always try to make people reflect on their actions and one of the best ways to do this is to learn from each other’s past experiences and knowledge.
Tell us your ideas on longevity. Material longevity, technical longevity and cultural longevity.
Longevity is related to the notion of chronological time, through the filter of the human lifespan. Having said that material, technical and cultural longevity can only have meaning in relation to the framework and subject in question and can only be analyzed as individual cases. In a more general sense, they could be rated on their actual duration in time as thus (from more longevous to less): material, cultural,
How does nature inspire your work?
We are nature and at the same time part of it. Everything we do, think and create is an extension of the natural world. The important thing is to remember this and then inspiration comes naturally.
QUARTZ is inspired by the crystallic structure of the mineral that gives it its name which is found in abundance in our planet. All minerals reflect on their outside structure their inner chemical one and that was the model on which we worked on. QUARTZ is a system that couples two-dimensional pentagonal and hexagonal structures, which develop in three dimensions following natural crystalloid formations.
The geometric volumes are covered with ecological fabrics in mixed colour variations producing an end result that resembles more a wild microhabitat than an armchair.
D\Zen ́s balanced volumes are inspired by a rare combination of nature and man’s respectful intervention. They are archetypal forms that sustain objects and people, imperfect forms in perfect balance. Throughout the long development process the importance was placed in conveying the essence of nature and the balance of things. The stick is man’s little touch, which supports nature but reminds us that everything is temporary.