Style | The Reconnoisseur

Souvenirs that will make you smile, not cringe

The gift shop that gives iconic symbols an ironic twist

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Souvenirs that will make you smile, not cringe

March 18 2011
Rachel Howard

Gift shopping abroad can be tricky: what looks like a tasteful work of art so often turns out to be a kitsch souvenir in the cold light of your kitchen. So thank the gods for Greece is for Lovers, whose witty products puncture the modern Greek obsession with ancient Hellenism.

The trio of Athenian designers behind Greece is for Lovers use local materials – mostly marble, wood, and leather – to give iconic Greek symbols an ironic twist. Fittingly, their tiny, all-white showroom is located in the foothills of the Acropolis, surrounded by musty shops stocked with tourist tat. (It’s right around the corner from the new Acropolis Museum, which does a nice line in less unorthodox gifts.)

For the exercise addict in your life, there are solid brass “Build Your Myth” dumb-bells shaped like classical Greek columns, “for pumping iron Ionian-style” (third picture, €400). For the macho cook, there’s a chunky marble coaster that spells out the word “Demigod” (second picture, €155). “Hermaphrodite” candles – in the shape of beeswax busts of Hermes and Aphrodite in Ray-ban-style glasses – have a stylishly decadent air (first picture, €150). For party animals, there’s a pillow (€55) and tote bag (€15) emblazoned with the slogan “No Sleep till Hades”. In pride of place in my own kitchen is an “Athens Sucks” mug – a brilliant subversion of the classic “I Heart NY” logo (€16). At last – a souvenir that makes me smile, rather than cringe.

Showroom visits by appointment only, but items are available via the e-shop.