The opening of Bernard Tschumi’s glass-and-concrete New Acropolis Museum this summer was symbolic: a city known for its obsession with looking backward had finally resolved to carve a place for itself in contemporary culture. Of course, those in the know have been tracking Athens’s creative ascent for years now — with its growing reputation as an emerging art hub and a design community that’s increasingly pushing boundaries, Greece’s capital has more to offer than ancient ruins.
1. Antonios Markos
Hipsters of means frequent Antonios Markos for brands like Tsumori Chisato. But the shop, which was designed by Gonzalez Haase AAS (think Acne in Berlin), also stocks $63 Marka T-shirts with prints by local artists and graphic designers. 35 Skoufa; 011-30-210-36-23-036.
2. Myran – Scandinavian Design
Martin Olofsson, the owner of this cheerful little design boutique, cherry-picks work by young talent from Scandinavian brands like Muuto, Hay and Swedese. 3 Fokylidou; 011-30-210-38-24-744.
3. Dianna Karvounis
The New York-born Dianna Karvounis studied industrial design at Pratt before starting her own furniture collection in Athens. Now she’s the city’s luxe version of Jonathan Adler, supplying prominent art collectors, politicos and millionaires with furniture and ceramics that channel midcentury California modernism. 36 Loukianou; 011-30-210-72-54-844.
4. The Breeder
Edgy exhibitions by the likes of Lizzi Bougatsos have earned this gallery an international reputation; angular walls and a bulging copper bar have won the Aris Zambikos-designed space a major Greek design award. 45 Iasonos; 011-30-210-33-17-527.
This hotel’s ceilings feature satellite photos of Athens, while a periscope in the lobby offers panoramic rooftop views. The design-obsessed owners are also renovating the Olympic Palace Hotel with the Campana Brothers. 22 Haritos; 011-30-210-72-97-200.
6. Scala Vinoteca
Scala’s hybrid menu includes Greek classics like taramosalata and Spanish-Italian wine-bar fare, but you might feel oddly at home. The interior — black Eames chairs and a gridded wall of wine bottles — was inspired by New York eateries. 50 Sina; 011-30-210-3610-041.
7. Frame Bar
Frame Bar is known for its futuristic interior, where chairs, tables and countertops are sculptured in a continuous white ribbon. It’s also a good place for a cocktail after a day in Kolonaki, the upscale shopping district at the base of the city’s highest hill. 1 Deinokratous; 011-30-210-72-90-711.
8. Greece Is for Lovers
Sure, this emerging design trio’s work is carried at Moss and Paul Smith, but at their eponymous shop, practically at the foot of the Acropolis, you’ll find the coolest nouveau souvenirs in town: kitschy, 1970s-inspired thunderbolt letter openers and “Athens Sucks” mugs. 13a Karyatidon; 011-30-210-92-45-064.
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