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The award-winning accessories label hand-made in Greece

The designers behind Lommer speak to Neos Kosmos about their innovative label taking an environmental approach while combining minimalist aesthetics and functionality

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Photos: Theo Pantazis

30 March 2017

Do you believe in serendipity? The designers behind award-winning label Lommer certainly do.

Alkioni Mastourdeli and Danai Gavrili first met while working on a three-month project, and say they were instantly amazed by their creative chemistry.

"So, after finishing that project, we decided to start our own design studio," Alkioni tells Neos Kosmos.

Despite the turbulent state of the economy in 2014, the designers were set on bringing together their shared appreciation of the technical side of design, both having studied Product Design at London's AKTO College at Middlesex University, and step-by-step developed the concept of their own label.

The designers behind Lommer.

While they admit there have been challenges along the way, they remain positive about deciding to pursue their passion.

"Our label was born into the crisis and in a great volume due to the crisis," Alkioni says.

"As product designers we knew that it was almost impossible to find a workplace in our field in Greece, but our stubbornness to not leave our dreams made us decide to create a workplace for ourselves. After founding the company - two months before the announcement of capital controls in Greece - we had to face many different difficulties that wouldn't exist under normal circumstances, but as we say 'every barrier exists for a good reason'! Problem = solution."

Their can-do attitude has, in a short time, seen them build their brand and reputation with an expanding list of stockists beyond their e-store including Athens' Benaki Museum, various Greek islands, and some in Spain.

Handmade in Greece from materials sourced across Europe, there are wallets and three bags available in the Lommer range so far: the EvaPack - a backpack system featuring a fine quality yachting rope, the EvaClutch - a reversible clutch system, and EvaTwo - a tote bag system, the latter of which saw Lommer awarded the Silver A' Design Award in 2015, one of the most prestigious contests in the world, for the Fashion and Travel Accessories Design Category.

Neos Kosmos reached out to Alkioni and Danai to find out more about their much-loved bags.

When I discovered Lommer, the first thing that sprung to mind was Bos en Lommer, a neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Was this the inspiration behind the name?
Our name has nothing to do with Bos en Lommer in Amsterdam, although we have been told that it is a lovely neighbourhood. It came from the acronyms of the phrase 'we LOve Materials and MEet Requirements', which includes the philosophy of our designs.

And what is Lommer's philosophy?
Lommer's design philosophy is based on experimenting with different materials, without being imprisoned by the original state, and on how products of daily mobility, can combine aesthetics, functionality, and customer engagement. We love to design new ways to motivate our customers to 'play' with our products and experiment with them. We believe that there is always a different way to approach everyday things, from the smallest to the biggest; that when you start with simple questions such as: 'why is this like that and how can it get any better?'. You immediately begin a journey to see the world differently and explore the things around in a unique way.

So it seems that a lot of thought goes into each product. What does the process entail?
The truth is that the design process of our products is like raising a child, which needs a lot of care, love, and time. We start with a basic idea for the functionality of each of our models and then there is a long period of experimenting, prototyping, and researching. Sometimes we are designing with the materials we are already working with, sometimes we have to research for new materials that would fit the requirements of the product better. Often, after that stage, we have to design new components or new procedures in our production line. Last but not least, after testing the product and deciding its final form, we name it, we design its packaging and its visual communication material (photo shoots, leaflets, etc).

What is the inspiration behind your products?
The inspiration behind our products comes out from the materials we discover and the uses of the objects. It is a rational procedure based on the requirements of each product. We are looking for materials that we encounter in other industries - sailing, construction, the automobile industry - to explore their possibilities in different scales or in different applications. Then we deal with the user's needs and aesthetics: 'how can our designs come close to the day-to-day requirements? In which way can they follow their users? How can they develop relations with their beholders?'.

Your bags are lightweight, waterproof, and have a reputation for being environmentally friendly. Why is this?
The material we use for the body of our bags - EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam and rubber - are both considered as non-toxic copolymer and are also recyclable.

As a result of the designs and materials you have worked with thus far, how would you describe your aesthetic?
Minimal, clear, and 'honest'.

Looking through your designs, I came across the Anti-Theft Urban Backpack concept which I found very interesting. What led you to design a bag of this nature?
Actually the materials it is made from. We had in our material library a rope that passes through itself and we were wondering for months how we could take advantage of that. While experimenting, we realised that this ability could give us a backpack that would lock with its own weight.

If you had to choose, which is your favourite bag from the range?
It's like asking us which is our favourite child! It depends on the needs and the mood we have in the given moment.

Do you have plans to develop your label with other products? Are you currently working on any other projects?
The current goal is to produce two to three new bag designs each year. But we have in mind that we will not always produce only bags, though it is not yet clear to us what it will be. For the time being, in the coming weeks we are launching a Bow Tie Kit, which consists of many pieces that can be combined in several ways so that someone can produce many different bow tie designs according to their mood. Stay tuned for more details!

To see the Lommer range in full and to access their e-store, visit lommer.design/product-category/clutches/

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