For Greek Cypriot industrialist and influential art collector Dakis Joannou, collecting art is more about relating with the artists than anything else. In fact, his monumental collection of contemporary art, one of the largest in the world, was essentially built through the relationships Joannou has been developing with artists like Jeff Koons and Maurizio Cattelan since the 1980s. From his houses to his offices, to his hotel projects, to his Jeff Koons-designed superyacht name Guilty, Joannou’s art-filled universe attests to his genuine passion for artists and their work, as does his DESTE Foundation, a non-profit institution based in Athens and Hydra aiming to support and promote emerging artists as well as bring contemporary art to a wider audience. With a broad range of collecting interests, from art to design to fashion, Joannou isn’t so much a collector one might say, but an aficionado of creative expression in all its forms. We recently caught up with the collector to ask him about his inspirations, favourite destinations, and the things closer to his heart.
Dakis Joannou. Photo © Yannis Bournias.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Normal, normal, normal.
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
Establishing the DESTE Foundation in the early 80s.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
Laurie Anderson, Michel Jackson, Björk.
Which colours are you currently enamoured of?
Black, White, Grey. In that order.
A timeless design piece you own?
A Parker 51 Pen.
What’s an accessory you had for ages?
A plastic 10cm ruler in my diary
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
The beauty product you can’t live without?
Comme des Garçons Vetiver.
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
Favourite destination and hotel?
New York, our apartment.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Staying home during Lockdown.
What do you miss most when traveling?
Which city would you choose to live in if you had to move?
NY as it used to be.
What souvenirs would you bring back home?
Your latest discovery?
What is on your bookshelf?
Mainly Art, Design and Architecture books, Makers Mark Bourbon.
Who is your favourite hero or heroine in fiction?
What quote do you live by?
Τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει. (eng: “Everything flows”).
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Μάλιστα”. (eng: “certainly”).
What is your guilty pleasure?
What is your most treasured possession?
My reading glasses.
Your idea of happiness?
Not getting bored.