Chrysanthi Tsourapi is a multi-talented architect and designer from Drapetsona, Greece. Arcbazar had the pleasure of speaking with Chrysanthi about her evolution as an architect and designer, and her ability to juggle the rigors of her profession with the demands of being a new mother. As one of a handful of lighting design experts in Greece, Chrysanthi also lends us her advice on the dos and don’ts of lighting design at home.
How did you get started in architecture and design?
I was still a high school student when I started working at a design office, as they had seen a talent in me. I have never stopped working since then! I have worked as a designer and as an architect for 20 years now, 16 of them as a professional.
Did you always know you wanted to be an architect and designer?
Oh yes. My favourite drawing as a kid was to draw city plans! Urban design. I could have been the inventor of “The Sims” game!
I studied interior design for 4 years and graduated from the Technological Institute of Athens in 2002. In 1998 I took part in the European Exchange Program called ERASMUS. I also studied Lighting Design at the Polytechnic School of Milan, Italy. In 2005 I have started my studies as an architect at the National Technological University of Athens and I graduated in 2013.
Where do you work?
Now I work from home as a freelancer. For the last 7 years I’ve had 2 companies (with a design office + construction department at each one), both of which I had to close due to financial crisis.
Who do you work with?
I work alone as a freelancer in the lighting design field with the largest companies in my country. Though, I prefer working in a team. 16 years as a volleyball player taught me a lot about the importance and benefit of team work.
How would you describe your typical day?
I’m a single mom with a little baby of 3 months so my working day at home is not so easy! I wake up at 5:00am and, in a way of respecting my child’s schedule, I try to work when he sleeps, aiming for 8-10 hours of work per day. When you work from home it is easy to lose your rhythm, but my past professional experiences help me set rules that maintain structure. I work on the laptop, taking small breaks, and I never work after 9:00 pm so as to rest enough.
What types of projects do you typically work on?
I typically work on commercial projects. Yet, with Arcbazar I’ve done many residential projects that I haven’t done in my previous work life!
Why do you prefer commercial projects?
With commercial projects there are more opportunities to use your imagination. Moreover, you are able to exercise all your knowledge and skills due to the rules and restrictions demanded. Typically I am working on 2 -3 projects at once, which I have to do to cover my financial needs. 5 years ago I would work only on one project as the budgets where higher.
How would you describe your design style?
My preferred design style is modern. I enjoy the innovation and the use of new materials. Though, I have worked in many different styles. Especially with Arcbazar clients I had the opportunity to work on almost all different styles and that was fascinating!
You specialize in lighting design. How did you come into this specialty?
In my country there are only 9 professional lighting architects. When I started studying lighting design, it was still in bloom as a field of expertise. You can make architecture only with light and that fascinates me. I gave a lecture 3 years ago at the University with this theme: “Light: The fourth dimension in architecture.”
How does lighting design affect your work in architecture and interior design?
It elevates my work to the maximum. Light is a tool for me. It’s like a color palette.
What specific advice do you have for homeowners in the areas of interior design and lighting design?
Trust your instinct and never be afraid to demand what you have imagined. A good professional is not the one that has a great idea. but the one that best uses his or her imagination and skill as a vehicle to drive the homeowner’s dream from paper to reality. Aditionally, homeowners should not use light only as a tool that helps them see in darkness but also as a way to express and explore their feelings. Sometimes a small candle light in a corner near a photo of a beloved person is stronger than a huge chandelier!
Are there any common mistakes that people make?
People should not be afraid of using colors. The “safe” solution of pastels is not always the best. And white is a color too! A white wall is not a wall that lacks color. Also remember that something we find great about a magazine photo is not automatically great for our home.
Lastly, even in ancient history human had the “fear of the void”; we find an empty wall we add ten pictures. Yet, there can still be a constructional mass totally naked with no decoration that can give our area a great appearance!
Do you have a “Golden Rule?”
Let your home be yourself. Don’t try to live in a fancy area that doesn’t express your inside world. When you turn on a light you are not only transitioning out of darkness, you also confront your feelings, your fears, and your imagination.
What was your favorite project and why?
Renovation – Baby coming competition. Sentimentally when I designed it I also expected my baby to come. In this project I had to add a lot of different rooms in a small area. That was challenging. I was also challenged to provide the ability to be able to add one more room in a couple of years with no renovation works.
Why do you enjoy using Arcbazar?
The Arcbazar team is very supporting and the plurality of projects makes me feel like a child in a candy shop!
A client at another similar site sent me an email telling me that he found out a better site and that he had uploaded his project there. I never took the project; I was very suspicious at the beginning. After 7 months and finding myself with no work and income I remembered the site and came back. I took a competition at the beginning to see how it works. I can’t describe you my feelings when I first took a prize! It was not the money; it was the same feeling as we had in elementary school when we got our first prize in a drawing competition!
Anything else you would like to share?
I used to design and build big areas such as hotels and car showrooms with my firm. Now, as I have gone the freelance direction, my range of experience allows me to give many lectures and write articles in architecture magazines particularly on lighting design. I also have expertise in library design. I believe that I have found great success because I always trust my instinct on ideas and people. I also never give up seeing the romantic view of life, and I choose to live a non-toxic life (away from all kinds of toxic things: food, environment, behavior).
You can find Chrysanthi’s Arcbazar portfolio HERE.