Helen Petaloti and Leonidas Traboukis bridge the two sides of the Atlantic.
Text: Aggelos Vassos
Two young architects, Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis , both graduates of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, are living their own American dream by bridging both sides of the Atlantic through their work.
Just last year, they took New Yorkers for a swing with the Flatiron Sky-Line structural installation they designed and built in front of NYC’s emblematic skyscraper known as Flatiron Building, which has been standing tall since 1902 in New York’s second-most- famous district after Times Square. The Flatiron Sky-Line consists of a series of hammocks suspended by ten large white arches made of steel tubes, illuminated at nighttime with LED lights. The installation invites passers-by to relax and take a break while lying comfortably in one of the hammocks. The installation proposal submitted by the two Greek architects won first place among a total of eight contenders at the 3rd annual holiday programming contest, known as the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, which is organized by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District and the Van Alen Institute. The purpose of the contest is the creation of a temporary-yet-inventive public designs in the heart of the Flatiron District.
This spring, Petaloti and Trampoukis, who are a married couple, are feverishly working on two new projects based in New York, in collaboration with the Lexus and Mini car manufacturers.
Their American dream began materializing about eight years ago when they began their post-graduate studies at Columbia University. Restless spirits both, they embarked dynamically on building their careers: Leonidas worked at the venerable SOM architectural firm (which built the One World Trade Center –also known as Freedom Tower – on the ashes of the Twin Towers’ site) and Eleni collaborated with the famous Guggenheim Foundation while also working as director of the non-profit FAOU Foundation (founded by Japanese artist Mariko Mori), which focuses on the creation of large-scale sculptural and visual installations.
In the year 2012, Trampoukis and Petaloti founded their own architectural firm «LoT» and it wasn’t long before their minimalist and sophisticated style, coupled with the functionality of their creations, became quite sought-after throughout the States. In 2014, «Wallpaper» magazine ranked them among the fastest emerging architectural talents around the globe. Just a year later, in 2015, the architectural twosome formed a design studio known as «Objects of Common Interest» (OoCI), with the aim of creating objects and still life installations.
For the two architects, practicality and imagination are not mutually exclusive concepts: “Our accord is that these two notions are not separate. We believe they are two equally important elements of a successful project. ” One of their projects that serves to prove this point was the 2017 call to design the Design Talks Theater in Miami.
Eleni and Leonidas split their time between Greece and New York, believing that “it’s quite productive to change settings very often and to constantly keep trying to unite these two worlds through our work.”