Desired Landscapes Magazine - Athens Walkthrough
Don’t overlook the passageways of Athens for they often tell a hidden story
Should you visit the centre of the Grecian capital you may spot a few stylised exit signs. At first glance they may look like they lead nowhere, but should you decide to follow these strange invitations and their flamboyant typography (often dating back to the 1930s) you might be led to one of Athens’s historic typography shops, often with beautiful indoor yards - a serendipitous showcase of the visual culture of Athens.
“I started photographing the signs of family businesses in order to document their unique history as I personally find them invitingly kitsch”, says Natassa Pappa, an Athens native, Graphic Designer and Editor of Desired Landscapes magazine. The end-product of her work is a detailed map showing 40 hidden passageways throughout Athens.
“Preservation of the signs is important because we have so few examples of contemporary Greek typography”, Ms Pappa argues. The archive comes alive in the form of the detailed walks that the graphic designer organises: “It’s an extraordinary experience for me to be able to showcase an alternative side of the city via a shared oral history”. Her favourite passageway is the “Anatolis stoa” where in the past “you were able to discover a terrace and have your secret urban-picnic”.
So what should you be on the lookout for next time you are in Athens? Ms Pappa advises you to “always pay attention, there are signs everywhere and they are little spoilers of what you are about to find, they may lead you to an unexpected exit or a small family business but do remember to speak to the owners because they will pass on a fragment of the city’s story”.
Photo creditss: Natassa Pappa
Written by Nassia Matsa. London-based, Athens-born writer on culture and tech with published work in Financial Times, Wired and Vogue. She is also a model with campaigns for brands such as Prada, Balenciaga and Burberry among others