“You don’t need a lot of things, just special ones,” says Andria Mitsakos’ mother, Stella, to anyone who will listen. Her mantra no doubt has inspired many who have heard to look more closely at what they collect, but none more than Andria—entrepreneur, publicist, designer—who inherited a keen respect for artisans and their creations as she traipsed along with her mother and aunts to flea markets, along beaches in search of shells, and to artists’ ateliers around the world. A global citizen, whose gallery-like pied-à-terre in Athens features an array of juxtaposed, seemingly unrelated—yet sacredly connected—objects (brass letter openers, stacked ceramics, ancient books, vintage silk lingerie lovingly draped on hangers, textile squares, chunky necklaces all catawampus on a dresser, swirls of scarves, wooden donkeys), Andria values things not for their material worth but for the stories they tell.
Slow Collecting: A Soulful Wellness Movement
While Marie Kondo-style downsizing might represent a minimalist (anorexic?) extreme where nothing has meaning except a blank slate, Andria Mitsakos’s respectful approach to accumulating and assembling items, thingamabobs, and soulful art for herself (and others) feels like a kind of mindfulness we should all embrace. If Slow Food as a movement means taking time to eat deliberately with wisdom, all the while seeking to preserve and honor each culture and heritage through comestibles, then perhaps Andria practices something I’ll call Slow Collecting, a wellness movement of the soul, with tenets meant to deeply recognize works of art, both tiny and large, both human-made and nature-made, that surround us. As disciples of slow collecting, we’d stop and notice the petals of a flower, wipe the dust from a broken earring without a mate, and find a way to carry home a worn sofa with good bones. The result? A pleasurable state of awareness and contentment deeply rooted in our authentic selves. We’d collect what we were meant to have—and nothing more.
Andria values things not for their material worth but for the stories they tell.
Which brings this essay to Anthologist, Andria’s newly launched lifestyle brand, a veritable powerhouse of slow collecting ethos. Started during the pandemic as an online shop where Andria could purvey both remarkable found objects of note, as well as proffer reproductions of enchanted finds (with her own twist, redesigned in cahoots with her own local artisans). “The foundry-work we do is by far some of my most favorite; the entire process of the mould-making, the artisan’s finishing carving, the shine (or not) of the brass,” shares Andria, who notes that it’s a quickly dying trade given mass production of the big name brands out there. For her, the found objects become inspiration for modern day decor. Anthologist began as a cache of irresistible objects, each with a story. The collection, from ruby-peppered bracelets to fish-themed ceramics, fulfilled Andria’s mission: “I want to celebrate artisanal craft, cultural preservation, and folkloric style inspired by the myths of Greece’s islands and countrysides,” she said. Wildly popular, the site begged to become brick and mortar and to burgeon rapidly. In just a few short months, Andria’s added three stores, a textile line, and a to-die-for jewelry line named for her great-grandmother, who carried the jewelry hand-crafted by her late father braided into her hair when she fled to America from Armenia.
Andria on the Anthologist Collections
Becca Hensley: How is collecting things a form of soulful healing?
Andria Mitsakos: I collect a lot of things that evoke nostalgia, and evoking nostalgia can be part of a healing process. Things that remind me of home, or being a child with my grandmother, or great aunt, or the sourcing trips I’ve taken with my mother, Stella. People need to understand that objects can evoke joy, it’s just finding the right objects. Every single thing in my possession that I look at every single day evokes a story, which of course evokes an emotion. Beautiful objects always bring joy. They don’t have to be expensive objects, but things that make your soul stir.
BH: How can we find ourselves with found things?
AM: Oh, there are so many ways! While traditional flea markets are now few and far between due to the pandemic, and many people sadly aren’t traveling the way they used to, the internet has thousands of resources to find interesting, found, things. Or start frequenting antique or thrift stores in your own neighborhood. See what you’re drawn to, and then research each item you’re drawn to in order to understand its provenance. Perhaps that object was part of your childhood, or it reminds you of a wonderful lover, or a journey you took to an exotic land.
BH: Anthologist has hit the soul-yearning, Covid-wounded world like Cupids’ Arrow. How has it been going?
AM: I love this question! This summer, I’ve been at my summer house in Paros and spending a lot of time in my shop at Parilio hotel. The expression of joy when someone truly understands what I do, and where these pieces come from is the most joyful moment I could ever have. Our website has been a savior to those who didn’t travel to Greece this summer, and we’ve already started getting tons of Christmas gift inquires, and many hotel are buying, as well. This was the goal. No more cookie-cutter objects.
BH: You started with a few fine items, each with a story. Now, you’ve added new dimensions, including your textile collection, and more. Tell us about that.
AM: Oh the textiles have a story, too! All of the pieces are handmade from fragments of old ceremonial robes discovered in the South Caucus, or old Greek kilims and some are Armenian Suzani. While of course the heritage of Anthologist is Greek, its soul globally crosses borders to other places in the world that have influenced my aesthetic. Take the Mexican stuffed animal goat, Panito. This season I designed him in an Aegean blue. He’s handcrafted by a team of female artisans in a small village in Mexico—and this entire design process was done over WhatsApp in Spanish! I’ve loved stuffed animals from a young age, so these animals evoke such wonderful memories and joy. I’ve also launched the Almas Collection, inspired by my family’s legacy of jewelry making and the courage of my great grandmother. Oh, and my scarves—just wait! They use use a beautiful image of a woman created by a Cypriot artist who also did my logo. I took it to an Italian textile company outside of Como, and we created the gorgeous prints that followed together. It was painstaking work, as I have no experience in creating prints, but I knew what I wanted and we got there in the end! The color palettes are absolutely delicious.
BH: You’ve got a shop or two. Where are they? What are they like? What do they purvey?
AM: Three, actually! This summer, we opened in Santorini, Crete, and Paros, all in beautiful hotels. Hotels are romantic, and shopping in a hotel should be the same. When you’re in a hotel, you buy out of necessity, or romance. Perhaps you need a beautiful gift for a lover, or your mother back home, or you want to gift your dinner companion or best friend for their birthday. I have Cavafy compilations in four languages and they flew off the shelves this summer. A book with an inscription is such a soulful gift.