In order to design real buildings, Rentzou recalls, “we had to do a lot of adjusting.” (That even meant scrounging materials in junkyards.) A tiny Athens apartment the duo designed for Marcello Rodio, a Paris-based fashion executive, and his friends Jérôme Combe, founder of an animation studio, and Elisa Ly, a set designer, is evidence of that resourcefulness. Rodio had fallen in “love at first sight” with Athens when he visited in 2018, and he couldn’t stop telling Combe and Ly about its charms. Two years later they bought the most affordable pied-à-terre they could find: a rooftop with a rudimentary concrete shack. Surfing the internet for ways to make it livable, Combe discovered Rentzou and Pantazis, and was captivated by their playful use of color and their rules-free materials mash-ups.
During the next year and a half, the architects fit a complete home into just 240 square feet of enclosed space, with a small balcony in the back and a much larger one in front. The layout, Rentzou and Pantazis say, was inspired by traditional island homes. (They both grew up elsewhere in Greece.) Rather than trying to make the house feel bigger by keeping it empty, they divided it into four distinct and densely furnished areas: kitchen and living room at the front, bedroom and bathroom at the back. The aesthetic, meanwhile, is derived from the architects’ determination to make the most of every job—putting as much design into a small building as they would a large one—and to make the most of every junkyard find. As they have written, “Anything can prove to be a treasure.” That explains the surprising juxtapositions of textures and colors.