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Cypriot Designer Michael Anastassiades Shares Tips on Visiting Cyprus

Αssociated Press

In this Sunday, May 10, 2020, women bathe in the sea at an empty stretch of "Nissi" beach at the Cyprus seaside resort of Ayia Napa, a favorite among tourists from Europe and beyond. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

LONDON, UK – Cypriot designer Michael Anastassiades has been based in London since 1988 and founded his studio there in 1994. He trained as a civil engineer at London’s Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine before earning a masters degree in industrial design at the Royal College of Art. His work is featured in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the MAK in Vienna, the Crafts Council in London, and the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France.

Anastassiades is known for “sculptural, gravity-defying lighting fixtures with slightly askew construction,” Surface Magazine reported in an article featuring tips from the designer on visiting his homeland of Cyprus which continues to influence his work to this day.

“A dancing swarm of synchronized Calderesque mobiles populated his booth at Maison&Objet 2020, where Anastassiades received the prestigious Designer of the Year award, casting it in a gentle glow, like a Mediterranean sunset,” Surface reported.

Anastassiades returns to Cyprus “every few months to visit family and to swim, hike, and generally savor life outside” and “prefers hidden beaches, which aren’t in short supply,” Surface reported.

“There are so many secluded spots near Paralimni and Cape Greco with completely turquoise waters- you just have to drive around and find them,” he told Surface which added that “on the shoreline, he collects stones, a habit he developed as a child, after the late Cypriot architect Neoptolemos Michaelides, a close mentor and family friend, gave him a flawlessly spherical stone.”

Anastassiades’ recent retrospective, Things That Go Together, at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC) in Cyprus featured his personal stone collection and “years of his found objects arrayed with a decade’s worth of lighting experiments in unfussy vignettes, eschewing plinths and vitrines for floor displays,” Surface reported.

His first tip on visiting Nicosia, is “getting out of your room and walking everywhere,” Surface reported, adding that Anastassiades “always feels homesick for local food.”

Of the local cuisine with its blend of Greek, Turkish, and Italian influences, he told Surface that “when we say ravioli, we always refer to ravioli that we stuff with halloumi [the national cheese of Cyprus] and mint.”

While installing Things That Go Together, Anastassiades “frequented Beba, a laidback tavern with a diverse menu that includes kontosouvli (marinated pork skewers), white tarama (Greek cod roe), and courgettes (zucchini) with tzatziki,” Surface reported.

“The most important thing is to get out of the city,” he told Surface, adding that “he recommends using Nicosia as a base and taking day trips hiking and swimming in the nature reserves near the picturesque Akamas, the island’s westernmost promontory.” “Non-city slickers opt for Anassa, a Thanos Hotels resort that delivers a relaxed dose of Mediterranean cool with pristine white Greek-Cypriot buildings, periwinkle shutters, and rolling lawns that spill onto the shore,” Surface reported.

Of the architecture of Nicosia, Anastassiades “cites Jean Nouvel’s Stelios Ioannou Learning Resource Center, the University of Cyprus library, as one of the island’s biggest success stories… resembling an earthwork or an artificial hill, the library, he says, is ‘a contextual, utilitarian building in every way,’” Surface reported, adding that “Zaha Hadid Architects’ ambitious 15-year renovation of Eleftheria Square, a public plaza connecting the city’s massive fortified Venetian walls, is slated for completion later this year.”

Anastassiades also recommends visiting NiMAC, Nicosia’s leading contemporary art museum, “it’s housed in an old British colonial building that used to be the island’s electricity authority- a unique, warehouse-like setting,” Surface reported.

Among the galleries to visit are “the artist-run Thkio Ppalies, which opened in 2015 inside a onetime auto-repair garage has tantalized with experimental one-night-only performances, Natalie Yiaxi’s surreal plaster renditions of domestic objects, and calligraphic metal sculptures by Leontios Toumpouris,” Surface reported, adding that “Anastassiades also recommends gallery-hopping in the southern enclave of Limassol.”

Also on Anastassiades’ list is “Nicosia’s not-for-profit Point Centre for Contemporary Art, founded by Andre Zivanari, which commissions original work from local artists about Cyprus’s sociopolitical nuances,” Surface reported, noting that “in 2014, Anastassiades mounted a solo show there that examined what he termed the ‘contemporary anxieties of the modern Cypriot’ through his signature vocabulary of geological elements and glowing glass spheres.”

Of the influence of his homeland, Anastassiades told Surface, “Cyprus comes out in my work. It’s unavoidable- it’s in my DNA.”