Back to basics - Issue 170 - Magazine | Monocle

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“This is all about bringing back a liberating simplicity to people’s lives,” says Eva Papadaki, as she moves through 10am Apotheke (Greek for “storage room”, her new concept shop in Athens’ vibrant neighbourhood of Gazi. Just beside the boutique – where Papadaki picks a collection of homeware, cosmetics and culinary ingredients – is a garage that repairs old cars. There’s a link to these unlikely neighbours: both are focused on preservation.


The idea for Apotheke (as it’s usually known) was born in the basement of the brutalist, concrete 10am Lofts building where Papadaki, for the past seven years, has based her talent management agency for photographers and artists. “It feels like I have given birth to this project and there’s so much sentiment attached to it for me,” she says, looking up towards the space’s incredibly high ceilings. Minimalist shelving units line the walls, displaying limited-edition products that Papadaki promises are sustainable all the way down to the manner in which they are transported from her native Crete to Athens.

On the wall, a film projection of the inky blue, sun-scorched Aegean landscapes and whitewashed houses captures the very essence of Papadaki’s new brand – a conscious movement back to simple living, inspired by the ways her Greek grandparents lead their lives. It’s why she has sourced limited-edition ingredients from Cretan producers who she has known since childhood. Olive oil, honey, handmade soaps, beeswax candles (just like the ones used in Greek Orthodox churches) and moisturising beeswax balms that can be applied all over the body. 

Most products fit in a beauty cabinet as much as they do in a kitchen pantry and will inspire you to rethink your beauty rituals – replacing complex formulas with natural ingredients and finding joy in the process rather than just the result, from applying a soothing balm on your pulse-points to lighting incense.

Minimalist living was the guiding principle for the shop fit-out but Papadaki also wanted to pay homage to the history of the building. “This was once a warehouse for dried foods,” she says. “I love the word ‘Apotheke’ because it also refers to our inner, metaphorical storage rooms, where we keep our memories, our feelings, our spirit.” Her own spirit remains firmly in her native Crete. “It’s where I’m from and it’s where I will always go back to,” she says, referencing the sounds, scents and landscape of the island, which inspired all the products now available at Apotheke.

Her commitment to local sourcing was also guided by her experiences growing up on the Mediterranean island. “So many people talk about sustainability but no mass- produced product is really sustainable,” she says. “Here, products are not made in huge quantities. The honey and the oil might run out. It’s whatever nature can give in that moment. I always want to be in tune with and respectful of what nature has to give me.”

“I love the word ‘Apotheke’ because it also refers to our inner, metaphorical storage rooms, where we keep our spirit.”

Papadaki travels to Crete to pick up the products herself and ensure that she maintains an ongoing dialogue with the producers she collaborates with. Her ultimate aim? To transport people to Crete, every time they light the Apotheke incense or use the wild herb soap that has been made using her grandmother’s old recipe.

Every Saturday, Papadaki opens the heavy doors of Apotheke to Athens’ ever-growing community of artists, designers and photographers, making the most of the airy space as a gathering spot as well as a shop. Nodding back to her previous job as a talent agent, the idea of Apotheke Saturdays is to create opportunities for creatives to come together and inspire each other with conversations about art, creativity – and, of course, the best natural beauty remedies.

“I want to offer a space for artists to showcase their work, so we have this weekly gathering that is interlinked with the ethos of Apotheke,” she says. “It’s all about returning to your roots.”

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