DEMETRIS KTORIDES graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture with an MA in Architecture in 2018. He now lives in Nicosia, Cyprus, where he works as an architect. MATILDA EKSTRÖM interviewed him about his practice.
You currently work for a company called Alternative Brains Rule. Can you tell me a bit about the company and your role there?
I think ABR can best be described as an experiential design studio. We do our own projects as well as work for other clients. All our projects are culture-oriented and aim to benefit the public. We are a non-profit company, meaning that whatever money the company generates on top of the money that goes to the employees’ salaries, goes to support other cultural projects. We are a team of five: three of us are trained architects, but the others come from different academic backgrounds. For instance, we have someone who studied to become a design engineer and later acquired a Master’s in Interactive Architecture at UCL. I, myself, am part of the design team. The work we do varies, but everything we design aims to be instrumentalised towards the curated experience of a space. One of our current projects is developing a social platform, called Somnus, which aims at reinventing cultural experiences through the use of Google Cardboard Virtual Reality glasses.
Has work after graduation been what you expected it to be, or has it taken you in any unexpected directions?
In a sense, once you detach yourself from the academic environment you enter uncharted territory. The idea of expecting certain developments feels unfitting. It’s a matter of continuously assessing the direction and being proactive towards your callings.
I know that you and a friend of yours also have your own fabrication lab. Can you tell me a little about that?
Actually, the roots of the lab belong to UCL. Bartlett operates B-made [The Bartlett Manufacturing and Design Exchange] which is a wonderful fabrication facility. In a way, it is quite similar to the Institute of Making: it’s a workshop space where students can go and create whatever they want, initially with the assistance of trained staff. I found those facilities to be extremely important for the progression of ideas and research. When I moved back to Cyprus, there wasn’t really anything equivalent to that atmosphere, so my friend and I decided to start our own workshop space. It took a year to set up but we now have a functioning space to test ideas and create. We decided to have our space open to the public so that more people can benefit from our project.
What exactly does it mean that the workshop is open to the public?
It means that if you have a project in mind that entails fabrication and you don’t have the tools or the space, you can use our studio. The space allows freedom to us as creatives and what the lab is really about is generating an atmosphere of curiosity and testing. We have people trying cabinet-making along with an artist making smoke sculptures there. We are very careful to retain health and safety standards but we feel that it’s super important for people to own the lab and test their ideas freely. In this way, the space aims at not operating as a creative institution but as a creative home.
Is your work usually inspired by anyone or anything in particular?
It depends on the project. The Bartlett builds your confidence to follow your own ideas and curiosities and have ownership over your projects. I guess each idea belongs to a context of influences and triggers but I find it important to seek the edge and explore your personal take on things.
In Cyprus, you have had lockdown restrictions similar to what we have had here in the UK. How do you feel that lockdown has affected your creativity?
That’s a good question! Obviously, you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. Sometimes I feel like I have had more focused time because of the lockdown. The only spaces I am allowed to [go] are the office, home and my workshop – all of which are spaces of creative production. But at the same time, I feel like my mind is tired because of the lack of escapes. I have produced more, but I’m not sure if producing more is necessarily better. I think the work is not relaxed mentally. We have a curfew at 9 pm and I finish work at 6 pm. The curfew feels quite cruel as it doesn’t allow space to dream and ponder and fall away. Life feels mechanical and I think that the creative production may contain traces of this.
And finally, what would your dream project be?
For me, the dream is to have the time and the space to follow an idea where it takes you. At work, for example, it is often hard to be completely true to an idea because of tight economic, resource and time constraints. I believe that the dream in every project is to carve out time and resources to allow it to flow the way you want it to. At the end of the day, I think the difference between a ‘regular project’ and a ‘dream project’ is not the project itself, but how you tackle it.
You can find Demetris’ work on Instagram (@dem_ktorides).
Featured image: Scan of workshop, courtsey of Demetris Ktorides.