The Greek word “Τόπος” [topos] reveals a remarkable flexibility when it comes to its applications. While at its core it symbolizes a physical place or location, its exact meaning can vary depending on the context. In literature, it symbolizes a recurring theme, in rhetoric, it equates to a commonplace—a widely accepted idea that builds the base of an argumentation. In all of its nuances mentioned above, however, topos embodies a given and a point from which further dialogues and ideas can emerge. Topos is also the term guiding the creative approach of the Athenian architecture and design studio Block722.
With the creation of their Greek island dreams, such as Casa Cook on Samos, a Twin Holiday Home on Syros, or the Olea All Suite Hotel on Zakynthos, Block722 has captivated our attention on several occasions in the past and is certainly not new to the pages of Ignant. Curious to meet the people behind those projects, we traveled to Athens last September, right after the city woke up from its summer slumber, and visited the founders Katja Margaritoglou and Sotiris Tsergas, partners in both life and work, in their office.
What particularly intrigued us before we visited Block722 was the fusion of Scandinavian simplicity and a Mediterranean way of living that flows through their work. Always in dialogue with their environments, the studio’s projects frequently feature open vistas of breathtaking islandscapes, a seamless transition from outdoor to indoor spaces, a harmonious balance of natural tones and textures, and interiors with a minimalist yet warm atmosphere.
As we sat down over a cup of coffee with the founders, we discovered that this blend isn’t a product of chance: “I was born to a Finnish mother and a Greek father and raised in Sweden,” Katja Margaritoglou shares. “Growing up in Scandinavia, I was surrounded by a strong sense of interior aesthetics and furniture design. When I moved to Greece to connect to my roots, I realized this aspect was not as present here back then.” An observation that sparked her interest and marked the beginning of her career in interior design. Tsergas, on the other hand, grew up in Greece as the son of a carpenter and spent his childhood summers accompanying his father on construction sites. Between tools and sawdust, he learned about materials and “how a simple piece of wood could be transformed into something elegant and nice.” These experiences laid the foundation for him to start his own architectural practice later.
When the two crossed paths in 2008, they were fascinated by each other’s different philosophies and backgrounds. “I was always really focused on details and design, and suddenly Katja told me about experiences and sensitivity in architecture. That was completely out of my scope until then,” Tsergas recalls. Inspired by their complementary vision, they founded Block722 a year after they had met. Their conversations about the sensual aspects of architecture from back then continue to be the cornerstone of their ethos to this day.
"It all begins with the soul of the place, the topos."
We’re curious about the ingredients that are essential to any Block722 project. “Our identity is not only to be found in the design and the visual language but also in our method when approaching a new commission. It all begins with the soul of the place, the topos,” Margaritoglou responds to our question. “Greece’s landscape is incredibly diverse—there’s the intense heat, the mountains, the sea, a lot of light, strong winds, and incredible views. Our architecture aims to blend into those environments and allow users to immerse themselves in them truly. The topos, therefore, always serves as our guide and inspiration,” Tsergas continues.
Currently realizing projects spread over five continents, the founders reveal that they feel as if Greece’s unique scenic conditions have primed them to adapt to different landscapes around the globe. Through extensive on-site research utilizing regional materials and collaborations with local craftspeople and artisans, each project is shaped by its surroundings and becomes an homage to the land it stands on.
The private residence O Lofos, which was completed in Crete in 2022, is a beautiful example of how the studio merges nature with human-made design. There, a generous outdoor area with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the sea smoothly transitions to the indoor spaces. The earthy colors and materials, including local stones and woods, reflect the regional vernacular. Bushes and trees native to the area have been planted on the residence’s rooftop, allowing the building to morph into its surroundings and making it an elegant sanctuary for the owners and their friends.
On the Greek mainland, close to the city of Preveza, the studio created a complex of seven luxury suites for the Meraviglia Slow Living Hotel. Also, here, minimalistic architecture blends into the vast landscape. Stones from the area were chosen for walls within the buildings. Careful details, such as the handmade mosaic floor in the suites, which allows for carefree barefoot living, and the rosemary and lavender gardens stimulate a sensory experience of the place.
Through bespoke furniture collections, Block722 further elevates the holistic experience within the spaces they create. “The processes of developing the interior design and architecture go hand-in-hand, as we try to intertwine them from the beginning,” Margaritoglou shares. The result is custom-made design pieces frequently featuring smoked oak, marble, and bronze that respond to the architecture, the landscape, and the client’s brief.
With Efi Spyrou as their artistic director, the studio also puts a particular emphasis on fostering collaborations with local artists, whom they commission to create work for their projects. One of these pieces can also be found in the office space of Block722. It is a wall installation by the Greek textile artist Chrysa Georgiou—an immersive piece woven out of earthy-hued yarns that greets visitors as one of the first objects when entering the two-story building.
Since 2021, this space in the center of Athens has served as their new headquarters. Located along a busy street that pulsates like a vein through the city, every corner here radiates the personality of Block722. The off-white walls, beige marble details, soft carpet- and terrazzo floors, purposefully placed black oak furniture, and subtle lighting create a warm atmosphere. Yet, amidst this carefully curated interior, our attention is constantly drawn to the expansive windows. Besides welcoming an abundance of natural light into the room, which allows for true-to-nature inspections of material samples and color palettes, they frame a sight that needs no introduction: The Majestic Acropolis. And as our gaze gets drawn back again and again to this magnetic view, it is a vivid reminder of the topos on which we are moving.