Born in Athens in 1938, Minas has built an international reputation for himself through his impeccably made, elegant and understated pieces of jewellery. Each Minas piece is both a visual statement with often symbolic undertones, as well as a feat of intelligent design and craftsmanship. Based out of Athens but with stores in Mykonos and London Knightsbridge, Minas has spent a lifetime making precious and beautiful things with his hands. He was still a teenager in the 1950’s when he joined the workshop of the then Royal Court jeweller Vourakis, and later on he spent 9 years designing for Danish jewellery legend Georg Jensen. When he turned 30, he moved to New York, “without knowing anyone or speaking the language”, as he admits, and spent another 12 years there, until he decided to move back to Greece. I inevitably ask him what made him come back: “You could say it’s the Odysseus syndrome”, he laughs. “The place here is sexy as hell. It’s really something else.”
“Harmony preexists in every one of us, since each of us hides within himself the need for harmony.”
For Minas, form needs to follow practicality, and his ingenious takes on common, everyday objects reveal his attention to detail and his instinctive knowledge of human anatomy and behaviour. A great example is his famous tire bouchon with its unusually shaped three-pointed handle and an irregular screw: “This shape isn’t about aesthetics. It really has to do with how this fits into your hand and enables you to twist and pull easier. Also the screw points right to the centre of the cork, unlike regular bottle openers.” His sensibility and acute awareness of how our body moves and feels extends into his jewel-making of course, since his designs are comfortable enough “to sleep while wearing them”. His practical, or utilitarian even, approach to design can be seen in a series of pendants shaped after common tools like a level, a compass, a whistle, a magnifying glass, a screwdriver and more —all fully functional and still gorgeous enough to be worn day and night.
In addition to precious metals and great design, Minas is passionate about music, as his collection of state-of-the-art amplifiers, record players and CD players in his store in Kifissia attests. “I’ve always wanted to play music loud, that’s why I always choose to rent a place to live that has no immediate neighbours. If someone ever comes and asks me to bring the music down, the first thing I’ll want to do is to move out of the place as soon as possible!” For that and other reasons, Minas confesses that he never wanted to buy a house in Athens; instead, he bought a large plot of land on Mykonos in the late 1980’s and built the only place he can call home there. The site was a ruin when he bought it, but turned it into a house and designed everything himself, from the towel hangers to the sculptural sundial feature made of white Pentelic marble. “I wanted to know who lived there before me, but I couldn’t find anything. I even went to the nearest village and asked the oldest people at the local kafeneio, and nobody could remember whose this house was. I kinda like that!”
In a similar fashion, Minas designed Astra, a famous nightclub in Mykonos town where everything from the logo to the doorknobs was made and signed by him. More recently, Minas has been engaged on an even more ambitious project in Mykonos, namely to refurbish the town’s seaside promenade with benches and street lighting of his own design. The first set of these benches and lights is currently in the making, and depending on how much funding the project can gather, we will soon see the first 50 Minas-designed street lamps installed along the stone-paved alleys of Mykonos. Given his love for the place and his Odysseus-like ingenuity, Minas is undoubtedly the perfect man for the job.