Words by Lula Criado
Many everyday products —plastics, inks, vaseline or cosmetics— are made of petroleum, a fossil made up of refined crude oil which has a negative environmental impact. Petroleum and its derivates are present as well in many art products and graffiti art equipment such as spray paint causing respiratory allergies because the vapours may be toxic to some people.
Taking this as a starting point Effie Koukia, Greek-born London-based product designer and creative thinker, has developed EXTRACT, a project which converges her passion for graffiti with health and sustainability. I had the pleasure to meet Effie Koukia during London Design Festival. There she allows me to touch and try some of the products of her project EXTRACT.
EXTRACT —an innovative project which blurs the boundaries between art, health and edible painting— is focused on replacing the toxic petroleum, and its derivates, present in art products with biodegradable, eco-friendly and non-toxic components extracted from natural sources. These cutting-edge products are safe enough to be used for people with respiratory problems and, literally, eaten.
What is more important: to take or not to take yourself too seriously in order to be creative?
Many times creativity is sudden inspiration coming from various sources like a trip, a song or a life event. Creativity is an attitude as well which is translated into being open to new ideas, being updated to what it’s happening around you and having a sense of humour. But working in the creative field is a lot more.
It requires strong research skills and many hours of hard work for the interpretation and transformation of findings and ideas into products and systems, which can make everyday life better. For me, the key is not only to be creative but also to be productive and creative and that can be achieved with a balance between both.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
I consider myself a morning person but I am generally flexible. Each time of the day has its beauty. I particularly love the sunset time though even if it sounds too cliché. This is maybe because I am originally from Greece where this time of the day is like an explosion in the sky.
Solitude or loneliness, how do you spend your time alone?
I quite like to work in a calm environment so sometimes solitude works fine for that. But generally, I love to be surrounded by people. Communication is a source of energy for me.
Have you found beauty in unexpected places/situations?
Beauty is everywhere. All we have to do is be willing to see it.
What do you want to achieve before you die?
I prefer to live for today and tomorrow and work on my ambitions according to them. There is a Greek adage saying: “When people make plans, God laughs at them.” This folk quote illustrates perfectly how our lives change every day in ways we hadn’t planned. At the end of the day, no one can predict if the day we will die is tomorrow or after many years.
One for the road… What are you unafraid of?
I am unafraid of taking challenges. They always end up to something new and fun. But if even not, I always learn something from the process.