Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Greek to Me


This past weekend found me hosting three out-of-town guests and no big plans other than a birthday dinner on Saturday night. And so we decided to spend Saturday afternoon at the Greek Festival, one of the largest of its kind in the country. We spent the day gorging ourselves on spanakopita, gyros, and baklava and even sampled some Greek wine and coffee (very sweet!). And, while there was little to do at the Greek festival aside from, well, eating Greek food, we still had a wonderful time. In honor of that, I thought I'd bring together a round up of my favorite items featuring perhaps the most iconic of design motifs: Greek key.


A popular explanation of the Greek key motif is that it's meant to recall the Greek myth of the labyrinth that imprisoned the minotaur on the island of Crete. While the idea is loving (and indeed fitting), the origins of the interlocking right angles and vertical lines (also known as Meander), the origins of the pattern are unknown and are probably not exclusively Greek. In fact, the Greeks (or rather the Minoans, the early inhabitants of Crete) probably borrowed the design from the ancient Egyptians, with whom they frequently traded. In truth though, there are probably multiple, independent origins of the design as it was used all over the ancient world -- for example, the motif has been found on Aztec sculpture, Peruvian crafts and Chinese architecture. But, since the Greeks (and the Romans after them) used the design liberally in their architecture, pottery and sculpture, the term "Greek key" has stuck.

And, while it's debatable whether or not the repeating pattern is a universally-recognized symbol of eternal life, it's certainly one of the oldest and most enduring patterns in human history. If you're in the market for home decor that can stand the test of time (and who isn't in this economy?), then just about anything with Greek key is a safe bet.


Source list (clockwise from top left): 1. Greek Key accent table ($330) from Global Views. 2. Greek key personalized coasters ($80/set of 100) and stationery ($60/set of 100) each by Dabney Lee Stationery and available at Saks Fifth Avenue. 3. greek key pillows ($375 each) from Jayson Home and Garden. 4. "Frank" white lacquer dining table ($2,750) from Revival Home and Garden. 5. abbott single arm sconce ($210) from Circa Lighting. 6. Greek key settee by Eric Cohler for Lee Jofa. 7. Greek Key frame ($78) from Jonathan Adler.


Source list (clockwise, from top left): 8. Byzantine barware ($175) from Pieces. 9. Greek key letterpress mini cards/enclosures ($6/set of 8) by Missive. 10. Greek-Key scroll jacquard bedding ($79-$399) from Williams-Sonoma Home. 11. Clay Very Stoned Carpet ($75-$1400) from Madeline Weinrib. 12. greek key border tile from Ann Sacks. 13. Suzani upholstered ebony toned greek key chair ($245) from Material Recovery. 14. Cypress cocktail table from Hickory Chair. 15. Radcliffe etagere ($2,500) from Jonathan Adler.

16 comments:

Sanity Fair said...

Fantastic finds! I love this theme. Greek key is so perfectly symmetrical - one of my favorite elements.

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

Not familiar with the Greek Festival but sounds delish! I love the bedding from WSH & I think I can get a look-a-like of those Greek Key Pillows from Jayson:)

Have a little giveaway at my blog, come & visit:)

pk said...

Your opening photo is stunning! Wouldn't mind spending some time there (especially in the sunshine since it's pouring here today). Also, some great finds that I haven't seen before!

Christy said...

Ooh I love this pattern, and that photo of Greece makes my mouth water -- it's one of the places I can't wait to visit! Fabulous post Averill!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Love the Cypress cocktail table!!! And I think I'm going to have to go live in that photograph of Greece. :)

sarah @ realestatestyle said...

I am loving greek key right now! Have my eye on a fabric that I need for my bedroom!

Style Redux 2 said...

It really is a classic.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Greek key @ it's finest Averill. I adore it & can remember when it was all the rage in the 70's. Does your Katie lamp from Circa also have a Greek key motif? I adore the wall lamp that your featured. I am seriously thinking that would look lovely in our master. The dining table through Revival H & G is incredible. Great..great finds. The festival sounded like great fun!

Couture Carrie said...

Gorgeous post and pics, darling! I have always loved the Greek key design, especially in jewelry!

Lovely pices for the home, too!

xoxox,
CC

Sarah Klassen said...

Nice post, Averill!

I agree, quite the classic design element. I enjoy the symmetrical properties -- especially in the bar ware example you have shown. What a beautiful set! I would love to own one :)

Laura@JourneyChic said...

The top photo looks like Santorini! We went there on our honeymoon as well as to Crete, and toured the Minoan archeological site where the labrynth supposedly was. The coffee table and bedding are my faves. Great finds! This post makes me want to go back to Greece. :)

Things That Inspire said...

Oh - the Greek Festival in Houston - I went several times when I was an undergrad at Rice. When I was a child, the Greek Orthodox Church in DC was literally in my backyard - I lived in a former embassy on Garfield St, which backed into the parking lot of the Greek church. Naturally, we went to every Greek Festival (this is where I developed my love for feta cheese). As a teen, I was an AFS exchange student in Greece for two summers. As you can tell, there are lots of Greek connections in my life! Although I cannot profess a fondness for Greek symbolism in my own design affinities, my post on Greek keys is perhaps the most popular google search that leads people to my blog!

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

Oh, how I MISS Greek Fest!!! Great post on this eternal motif - my home is seriously lacking this classic detail, something I simply MUST correct! ;)

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

Another great roundup! I can't get enough of the Greek key motif. It's just so classic and works everywhere. And I love Greece! It's one of the prettiest places I've ever seen!

Bromeliad said...

Love the grey rug. Leave it to Madeline.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Athens Greece The Cradle of Civilization!

Lovely goodies you are showing here, but...

The Meander or Meandros in Greek or The Greek key as you call it though is Greek and has nothing to do with Egypt as it has absolutely never been found there other than when the Minoans had given Egypt some flair to put it mildly... and after Alexander The Great had conquered Egypt and the days of the Ptolemies and Cleopatra who was a Greek too... unlike the belief of many that think of her as Egyptian!
Misinformation reigns in this world!
For example did you know that the oldest pyramids are found in Greece?
Greeks had inhabited and left their civilization in many parts of the whole wide world, this historical information you can find in unbiased historical works of various scientists from all corners of the earth!

So with all due respect dear lady lawyer, as such, do not misinform people with inaccuracies as what you posted here so hastily!

All the best,

Alexander.

PS. Should you need corroborating evidence to all I have said please do email me.

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