Enter the creatively renovated Greek Prime Minister’s seat in Athens
As the founder of Zeus + Dione—A high-end clothing line showcasing Greek craftsmanship — Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis has a keen eye for design. So when her husband, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, became Prime Minister of Greece in July 2019, she couldn’t help but notice that the space where he worked to run the country – and, before the pandemic, receive foreign officials – was not exactly an advertisement. for Greek aesthetics and industry.
In fact, describing the 1921 building known as the Maximos Mansion, which has been the office of every Greek Prime Minister since 1982, Grabowski-Mitsotakis states: “It had not been repainted since 2004, just before Athens was born. ‘hosts the Olympics.
This refresh almost two decades ago took place in anticipation of the flood of heads of state who visited the country during the games. But the years that followed – with economic collapse, austerity, and then the pandemic – weren’t always kind to Greece or the Maximos mansion, located in central Athens, just off the square. Syntagma. Yet, with all of its challenges, 2021 brought something to celebrate: the bicentenary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, which began to liberate the country from more than 400 years of Ottoman occupation.
In February 2021, it became clear that COVID-19 was under sufficient control for Prince Charles and other foreign officials to travel to Greece for scaled-down ceremonies to mark March 25 – the Independence Day of Greece – and attend the reopening of the National Gallery. The time seemed right to repaint and transform the Maximos Mansion into a reception hall showcasing Greece’s history, heritage and creativity.
“My philosophy was that it should be presentable, intriguing and represent who we are,” Grabowski-Mitsotakis explains. “This place represents the Greek people.”
The Prime Minister liked the idea, but was adamant not to send a renovation bill to the Greek people. “He said, ‘You can do whatever you want, but it can’t cost the Greek state a dime,’” she recalls.
Grabowski-Mitsotakis accepted the challenge and assembled a dream team of ten volunteers to draw up the plans for the restoration of the three public rooms of the Maximos Mansion: a meeting room with a large conference table, a reception area which she calls “the living room,” and the Prime Minister’s office. The brain trust, many of whom prefer to remain anonymous, included curators and collectors, as well as Elina Kountouri, CEO of the Neon Foundation, a Greek nonprofit focused on bringing contemporary art to the public, and Cypriot product designer Michael Anastassiades. Together, they compiled a list of Greek artists, artisans, collectors and institutions to contact for a loan request of a work of art or artefact to the building for a period of two years.