LOS ANGELES – Christos Joannides, Founder and Creative Director at Flat 6 Concepts, a luxury branding agency in Los Angeles, spoke with The National Herald about his journey from Cyprus to California and what inspires him and his work. Flat 6 Concepts is #11 on the list of the “37 Best California Website Design Companies of 2019,” compiled by DesignRush, a business-to-business marketplace connecting brands with agencies. Joannides’ remarkable work includes an impressive array of simple, clean, and understated designs for clients as diverse as CAFFE TO.MO.CA, a family-owned coffee company in Ethiopia, to the I Heart [love] LA logo he designed for his adopted city. Joannides also designed “Cyprus, Beauty Worth Revisiting,” a case study for a new logo and identity for his home country.
TNH: Where in Cyprus are you from originally?
Christos Joannides: I was born in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus and grew up there. After my military service I left for Los Angeles in 1992 to attend college and have lived here ever since.
TNH: You've been in California for some time now, was there any culture shock when you first arrived?
CJ: Admittedly, there was a culture shock to a certain extent but not to the point that it was alienating. I just felt I belonged here and felt welcomed from the very first day. I was brought up bilingually (Greek and English) so the language was never an issue. However, I was shocked at the fact that the city of Los Angeles itself was barely 250 years old. For us Greeks with such rich history that was definitely very different for me. It is always so humbling when you visit Athens and take in the Parthenon. The Acropolis never gets old (pun intended).
TNH: How did the idea for Flat 6 Concepts come about?
CJ: Flat 6 Concepts stemmed from the Great Recession in 2008. I was a founding partner in an interior design and furniture business where we offered high end interior design and custom furniture to a discerning clientele. With the recession, the clients disappeared seemingly overnight and with two young children I had to reinvent myself and start anew. I started Flat 6 Concepts providing branding/website design and marketing to design-centric clients, mostly interior designers and architects, as that was what I knew the best. Since then, Flat 6 Concepts has grown to cater to the needs of startups, small and medium size businesses looking for branding services/website design/development, as well as advertising and marketing strategies. Back in 2013 when my home country of Cyprus was going through the biggest economic meltdown the country had ever seen, I had felt an obligation to help and designed a brand new logo and identity for the country to appeal to a higher end tourist focusing primarily to the American tourist. You can see the whole case study on Cyprus on my website at flat6concepts.com under work.
TNH: What inspires you and your work?
CJ: I find inspiration everywhere. In books, travel, the project at hand. Online I turn to Instagram and Pinterest as well as a few design blogs I follow.
TNH: What is the most challenging aspect of your work? The most rewarding?
CJ: The most challenging is trying to sell my vision to the client that I feel is appropriate for their line of business, but the client feels that they know better. I try to work with them and educate them in good design principles and approach and usually they do come around.
Sometimes they don’t and that’s fine, in life as in business you lose some and win some.
The most rewarding is when a client is ecstatic about the results that we have produced for them. I love it when I get an email from a client saying how gorgeous everything is. That validation of your hard work makes it all worthwhile.
TNH: Are there plans to expand the business?
CJ: I am always open to new possibilities and collaborations. Right now my design firm is a boutique agency and I like it that way as that gives me the opportunity to be personally involved in all aspects of the work.
TNH: How has your family reacted to your success?
CJ: I feel my family is proud of my achievements but I am sure my mother would rather I was closer to the Mediterranean.
The West Coast is definitely quite the trek coming from Cyprus.
More information about Flat 6 Concepts is available online: flat6concepts.com.