A few months ago I was attracted to a platform that curates Greek designers who redefine the notion of contemporary souvenirs in Greece. This is a market area in drastic need for new creative solutions, as for a long time it stayed dormant, covered in bad taste and poor execution. Designing souvenirs is a juxtaposition of cultures and products. You need to infuse symbology and meaning inside a functional object in a way that creates additional value. For a long time, I wanted an excuse to start creating something in that space and the open calling for new submissions gave me that final push.
Initially, I brainstormed 9 directions ranging from ancient divine punishments to mythological monsters to Eurica bath products and the sound of cicadas. The choices were narrowed down to two and eventually one was executed and submitted to the platform. Following is a breakdown of the design process.
Memento Hades (Αναμνηστικά από τον Άδη)
In the mythical (and ancient) Greece you could die in a spectacular variety of ways, among others: you could become the lunch of a hungry Cyclop, turn into stone, become enchanted by sirens’ songs, realize that you were not that immortal or simply have a turtle land on your head. If the residents of Hades could remind us of something, it would be to live this sort life as best as we can, cause you never really know if tomorrow you will anger Zeus or turn into a Cyclope’s breakfast.
The idea was to take the concept of memento mori and marry it with unfortunate deaths from Greek mythology. Infusing a dose of humor to the often dire depictions while keeping the valuable reminder part intact.After researching the various and wonderful ways you could die in mythological Greece I narrowed the list down to four choices:
An Achilles heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.
The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.
Σειρήνες Seirēnes, were beautiful yet dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
1) You could anger Zeus… (Zeus)
2) You could be eaten by a Cyclop (Odyssey)
3) You might not be immortal (Achilles / Iliad)
4) A turtle could fall on your head (Aeschylus)
Slide from the initial pitch (in Greek) Memento Hades was the fourth idea.
Research for the visualization of mythological death no3 (Achilles / Iliad).
From reference material to final symbol, together with the organic ceramic shape.
The four final Memento Hades symbols with their accompanied mortality reminders.
Test pieces with pressed clay.
Batch production drying in the sun.
Dried pieces, prior to firing.
First fired clay pieces, the color has changed into the familiar earthy red.
Next step, adding the white highlight using another mixture of white clay.
An overview of the ceramic studio, working alongside the two brother-owners.
Finished piece prior to second firing.
(Above) The last step, adding magnets and keychains.
(Below) The final fired pieces with a glass glazing in the front side.
The Memento Hades souvenirs made an appearance at two exhibitions (Thessaloniki and Athens) and had some cameo appearances in the press (Vima / womantoc / Ta Nea / Living-postcards / Popaganda / Lovelution).