“A handwritten letter. I had a habit of handwriting letters once a week to somebody I admired.” enthuses the energetic and expansive Afroditi Krassa.“I always admired Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret-A-Manger as an entrepreneur,” continues Krassa, “so I wrote a nice carefully handwritten letter telling him about my product and that he might be interested in using them in Pret. The next morning I got a call asking if I could meet him, which I did, and he then asked if I could help on this new idea he had called itsu.”
“I had eight weeks to design the branding, packaging and interiors for the first store. It was crazy and I think it gave me a bunch of white hair but that’s how I got into interior design.” “It was a great success so we then rolled out more stores. We still keep in touch to this day, I advise him on ideas for itsu and he is like a father figure mentor to me.”
What experience were you able to take over from product design into interiors?
“Working in product design for big corporations helped me understand how to design in repetition in that you might have to design fifty of something. And also it taught me how products bring brands to life. For example, at Nokia the products carry so much brand on their shoulders, so having that work experience, although not directly interior design really helped me in this particular scenario.”
What advice do you have for young designers today?
“Perseverance and passion. If you are not in love with design don’t bother because you really have to love it passionately in order to succeed.”
“Also, I’m a firm believer you should support young designers. I was very lucky to get great support when I first started out from tutors, friends and family. It’s very competitive world and you have a lot of designers with dreams and aspirations which can crash when they realize the harsh reality of the design world. So, I’ve always made an effort to support young designers where I can.In my spare time I’m mentoring a young girl in interior design.”
“You know,” smiles Krassa, “she actually wrote to me saying she admired my work asking if it was ok to come and speak with me. And now I see her every two or three months.”
From her eponymous studio established 12 years ago, Affroditi Krassa now designs restaurants for Heston Blumenthal, cinemas for Curzon and the latest bar designs for the Hilton.
During this year’s TENT at London Design Festival she launched her first interior products range, called AKollection. Transforming the usual exhibition stand into a lively monochrome 1920’s inspired bar and a catwalk, young up and coming product-designer, Jule Waibel, showcased her industrial pleated dresses while barefoot models strutted along Krassa’s piano tiles.
Thank you Afroditi for helping others craft and create their own career story.
This YourStoree interview was edited for the web.