to Katherine Kennard
reading this story
Honey, cinnamon and... hmm, what could it be? Thyme? Or maybe oregano? The air is filled with the scent of freshly baked bread, but not just any bread. The spices bring to mind the warmth of summer and the essence of the sea. Regardless of the exact ingredients, the fragrance is alluring and gently embraces our senses as we step inside – much like the floor-length white curtain in the large window swinging slowly as the metal door closes in our wake. Behind us: the lively Athens. In front of us: pleasant stillness, that unique fragrance and a large open room.
We come further in, taking in the neutral tones of the concrete and the clean lines of the architecture. A few well-placed pieces of furniture adorn the space. An old wooden chair. A dark round table. A small stone bench. Going in even further, we discover another room behind a subtle elevation. Here, a long wooden table is surrounded by 16 chairs. The two spaces are connected by a narrow, light-filled atrium, at its centre a wide rust-brown spiral staircase. We peer curiously along its length. Although we are still familiarising ourselves with this space, we can see that it is truly special. It feels raw yet thoughtfully designed, minimalist yet full of possibilities, secluded yet welcoming and soulful. It’s a place we want to explore immediately, while savouring every moment of the discovery.
This place is called 10AM lofts. Located in a former warehouse in the industrial district of Gazi in Athens, it is spread across six floors, offering a diverse array of creative spaces. Behind it all is Eva Papadaki, 10AM lofts founder and curator.
We hear a joyful ‘Kalos irthate!’ (‘Welcome!’), and there she is – Eva coming around the corner with a warm smile on her face. She is wearing a midnight blue top paired with a long grey skirt, elegantly swaying around her legs with each step. Her dark hair falls in soft waves over her shoulders, framing her brown eyes. What an enchanting presence, we think. As if the statue of a Greek goddess has come to life, now standing before us in a contemporary form. Eva embraces us warmly, radiating a calm and welcoming energy that immediately makes us feel at home.
“Despite this feeling of desertedness, I instantly felt excited because I saw the opportunity to breathe life back into something.”
“I found this space by chance,” Eva says, noticing our lingering curiosity. “Actually, I’m an agent for fashion artists; my agency is called 10AM.” The name doesn’t stand for the time, Eva adds, but for the ten artists she first represented, paired with the initials of ‘Artists Management’. Back in 2016, when she founded 10AM, she was in search of an office space – preferably roomy and without columns, to conduct fashion shoots. A friend recommended exploring Gazi, where numerous buildings stood vacant at that time. “At first, I was biased against the area because it is less residential,” Eva says. However, she ventured there the next day and discovered the six-storey building with the rust-brown façade. “When I entered it for the first time, it was almost empty. There was only the caretaker, a sweet elderly man, probably eighty years old. He seemed like a kind ghost; it was just him and the building. Despite this feeling of desertedness, I instantly felt excited because I saw the opportunity to breathe life back into something.”
At first, Eva used only the second floor as an office space. When the landlord offered additional floors for sale, she took over the first floor as well and installed a total of four lofts, suitable for a range of creative purposes, such as artist residencies. Later on, Eva also acquired the lower and upper floors. The basement now houses a store, which Eva will introduce to us later in the day. The ground floor serves as a versatile event space, hosting art exhibitions, book presentations, intimate music concerts and private dining events around the long wooden table. Eva sees it as an artistic hub; every creative mind and idea are welcome. The fifth and sixth floors, interconnected by an internal staircase, have been converted into a penthouse. “It all unfolded naturally and gradually,” Eva reflects. “There was no initial business plan. It felt more like the building and I had jointly decided to embark on this journey together. Today, 10AM lofts is me, spread across several floors, in various ways.”
Only two floors are not occupied by 10AM lofts; a light artist resides on the third floor, and a painter on the fourth. Eva values their additional infusion of creativity: “Eventually, this building turned into an artistic building. That’s really nice for all of us here.” For the interior design of both the lower and upper floors, Eva collaborated with architects Eleni Ioannidou and Andrew Trotter, as she admired their minimalist styles.
“I believe the staircase is the architectural highlight of 10AM lofts. It feels like a sculpture.”
Andrew Trotter came up with the idea to replace the original and rather conventional concrete staircase connecting the basement and the ground floor with a rusty metal spiral one. “It took us months to develop this staircase; it was the most challenging construction during the renovation process, and at first, I feared the entire building might collapse,” Eva laughs, adding, “Now, I’m grateful that it’s here; I believe the staircase is the architectural highlight of 10AM lofts. It feels like a sculpture.”
An hour or two have passed since our arrival. Eva, who knows how the building appears in every light and season, glances at the clock and suggests a tour of the penthouse, as the most beautiful light pours into it at this particular time. True to her words, as soon as we reach the fifth floor and Eva opens the door, we are greeted by the warm afternoon light streaming through the large windows, bathing the open-plan living, dining and kitchen space in golden hues.
A comfortable couch and armchair, along with a large round dining table, take centre stage. Vases are grouped in various shapes and sizes, paintings are placed on the ground near the walls, a variety of crystal glasses fills a tea cart, and a selection of books – most of them by Greek authors and seemingly read numerous times – is spread over a low coffee table. On the wooden sideboard, as if overseeing the space, rests the elegant statue of Praxilla, an influential Greek lyric poet from the fifth century BCE, renowned for her verses exploring love and beauty. A narrow corridor leads to the bathroom, featuring a freestanding dark grey bathtub and large windows that offer a sweeping view of Athens. Even here, we discover a delicate painting and a vase placed on a weathered little cupboard.
Each object exudes the impression that it has already lived a life in another place, as if it holds a small story within, just waiting to be told. Together, the pieces create an atmosphere that seems casually assembled yet perfectly harmonious. “I collected much of the interior décor during my travels abroad. Some pieces are from Japan, others from China, the Netherlands, Belgium, and many from Greece,” Eva says, adding that she does not follow specific rules about what should be present in a space. Instead, she simply chooses what resonates with her. Take the statue of Praxilla, for example. “I stumbled upon her in a gallery while walking through Athens late at night and immediately knew, ‘We’re going to live together.’ The next morning, I went to bring her home and positioned her so that her gaze aligns with the Parthenon. To me, she is more than just décor; she reflects my love of Greek history, culture and literature.”
“It’s a great experience to wake up in the morning and see the Acropolis. It feels like living in the Parthenon.”
As we ascend the internal staircase to the sixth floor, we’re welcomed by an even warmer light and a soft blue sky. We breathe a long ‘Wow!’ as we approach; the bedroom is positioned in the centre of the rooftop, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. Stepping onto the terrace that encircles the bedroom and provides a 360-degree view of Athens, we grasp the immense size of the city. Countless houses sprawl below, the sea glistens in the distance, and taking a few more steps around the corner, we find ourselves looking directly at the Acropolis and its marble Parthenon temple – the symbol of Athens.
According to ancient mythology, the Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena, who competed with Poseidon for the title of the city’s protector. Each of them offered a gift to gain the favour of both humans and gods. Athena’s gift, an olive tree, was more appreciated than Poseidon’s saltwater spring – and thus, the city earned its name in honour of Athena. Today, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and the eldest in Europe, steeped in mythology, history and a rich cultural heritage.
As we gaze along the horizon, we contemplate how the city must have looked like in its beginnings, thousands of years ago. And as our eyes fall onto the bed behind the large windows again, we imagine how it would feel today, waking up with a view of the Acropolis, stepping out onto the terrace with a cup of Greek mountain tea in hand, far from the urban turmoil, yet in the midst and above it.
“It’s a great experience to wake up in the morning and see the Acropolis. It feels like living in the Parthenon,” says Eva, seemingly reading our thoughts. It was precisely this sentiment that prompted her decision to designate the upper floors a penthouse, providing visitors with the opportunity to stay here and feel at home, much like true residents of Athens. “What I love so much about Athens is that it offers a great mix of anarchy, freedom, creativity and liveliness. You feel free to create because the city gives you the opportunity to create.”
A gentle breeze caresses our faces, and suddenly that alluring fragrance of bread mingles with the air again. One of Eva’s team members arrives on the terrace, presenting a large platter of a freshly sliced loaf, just out of the oven and still warm. Its texture is fluffy, its flavours delicious: honey, cinnamon and olive oil, with a hint of cloves and a pinch of salt. Yet there’s this elusive nuance that we still can’t quite discern. We savour every bite while marvelling at the view for another moment, and then, driven by curiosity, we follow Eva downstairs to the basement – the part that is perhaps the most ‘Eva’ in this building: her store 10AM apotheke.
The store unfolds behind a glass door at the end of the rusty spiral staircase. Its rough walls and warm lighting create the sensation of entering a spacious yet protective cave, housing delicate treasures. We discover handmade soaps and small cans of olive oil, thistle tea and golden tea strainers, thyme-infused honey and beeswax balm, natural incense and long candles, large vases and small ceramic bowls – each slightly differently shaped, clearly indicating their handcrafted nature. Most of these treasures are packaged in minimalist white. Some are displayed in an antique cabinet, while others are arranged on a simple stainless-steel table. Projected onto one of the walls are atmospheric film scenes accompanied by gentle classical music. We take a seat on a long wooden bench and immerse ourselves in the visuals: the wavy blue sea, untouched landscapes, rugged rocks, a white horse and a flock of sheep, hands expertly shaping dough. It’s a sensory movie that captures the simplicity and beauty of Eva’s homeland. And although it is only three minutes short and running in a loop, we find ourselves watching it again and again, captivated by its poetic allure.
Eva was born in the tiny village of Sellia in the Rethymno area of Crete. She grew up there with her parents and a brother four years younger than her before moving to Athens to study business administration, marketing management and media communications, followed by image management in London. However, after two years she couldn’t endure London’s rain any longer, so she returned to Athens.
When recalling her childhood in Crete, Eva’s eyes light up. “I was surrounded by nature, simplicity, rawness and the vastness of the Libyan Sea. Our house was on a little hill and the thing that I could see the most from there was blue; the blue of the sky and the blue of the ocean,” Eva says. This is why every weekend she drives to the coastline of Athens, just 15 minutes away by car, to go for a swim, at least from March to October; in winter, she simply rolls down the window to breathe in the blue.
“My grandfather used to say: ‘luxury lies in simplicity’. It shaped my whole perception of life.”
Her maternal grandparents managed several hotels, while her paternal grandparents were equally hospitable. “I remember two different families with homes that were incredibly open. Not just open to family members or friends, but also to distant relatives, villagers or people from abroad. Everyone was welcome; the dinner tables were huge.” Eva continues to reflect on how simple her grandparents’ lives were: “Whenever I visited them, I only saw a few essential products in their kitchen; honey, olive oil, salt. They produced many of these products themselves, for example the soap. My grandmother used it to wash her hair, her face, her body and their clothing. It was both simple and sustainable.” To this day, Eva carries her grandfather’s wisdom with her: “He used to say: ‘luxury lies in simplicity’. It shaped my whole perception of life.”
It’s a moving experience to listen to Eva speak so affectionately about her family, particularly her grandparents. As she guided us through the different floors earlier, we witnessed her radiating warmth, joy, a sense of peace and endless inspiration. The glimpsed interactions with her team showed her to be a compassionate leader, treating everyone with love and respect, much like friends – sharing laughter, hugs, a spontaneous dance. Now, in this moment, we discover another layer to Eva, and a profoundly sensitive one. We’ve settled together on the long wooden bench. Eva has pulled back her long hair and sits cross-legged before us, attentively listening to our questions and openly sharing her dearest childhood memories. When she begins to speak about her grandmother, she pauses briefly. Tears well up. It’s evident that she misses her deeply. Eva extends her hand towards us and gestures towards a delicate golden ring on her index finger. “It was my grandmother’s wedding ring. I always have it on me.”
“My goal is to propose a simple way of living.”
To this day, Eva’s grandparents have been her greatest inspiration. It was her grandmother’s love for sewing that led Eva to delve into the world of fashion, dreaming as a teenager of becoming the editor-in-chief of Vogue. It was the family’s inherent hospitality that motivated her to create an inviting space and a temporary home for others. And it was her grandfather’s wisdom around simplicity that drove her to curate the pure and natural products of 10AM apotheke. “My goal is to propose a simple way of living,” Eva says.
Ultimately, all the precious memories of her grandparents have also inspired the name of her store. “In Greek, ‘apotheke’ translates to ‘storage’,” Eva explains. “I chose the name for two reasons: firstly, to honour the building’s origin as a warehouse, and secondly, metaphorically, to honour whatever we, as individuals, carry within ourselves throughout our lives – be it aromas, feelings or memories.” These internally stored elements are also reflected in the packaging: in collaboration with the Greek architect Artemis Valyraki, Eva created a glossary with various words, both tangible and intangible. On each product, the full spectrum of these words is presented in subtle light grey, while those relevant to the respective product are highlighted in black. For the soap, which is based on a recipe by Eva’s grandmother, for example, the words catharsis, grandma, incense, myrrh, olive, soap and spirituality stand out.
All of the products are crafted by and with small Greek, often Cretan, producers – many of whom Eva has known personally since her childhood. Some live in her own home village, while others come from neighbouring settlements. “In a way, I wanted to take care of those people. It’s quite hard to produce limited products and make a living out of it,” Eva says. “Also, I greatly admire the way in which they continue to respect nature; I wanted to honour them for honouring nature. And I wanted to connect not only with the products they create but also with them, as individuals. For me, it’s about connecting souls first and foremost, and then connecting with whatever comes out of that connection.”
In addition to its products, the store offers the delicious round loaves of bread – a ceremonial Greek speciality known as ‘Artos’. Eva’s grandmother used to prepare it whenever a family member celebrated their name day. After the ceremony, the bread was sliced and served on large platters, accompanying this moment of togetherness and shared joy. At 10AM apotheke, Artos is freshly baked and available every Saturday, following a Cretan recipe.
Reflecting on the various facets of Eva expressed on the different floors of the building, we curiously ask: what comes next? “I have many ideas,” Eva says. “My next project will definitely be design-related and carry the 10AM name. Somehow, I feel protected by it, like a lucky charm. 10AM brought me to 10AM lofts, to this building, and now 10AM lofts brought me to 10AM apotheke. I see 10AM as the umbrella for all my projects. However, I’m taking things slowly; I want to make sure that everything I do is done in the right way.”
While in the background, the poetic visuals from Eva’s homeland still grace the wall, we take another stroll around. We feel the distinct texture of the vases, we smell the subtle scent of the beeswax balm, we read the different words of the glossary, pondering: which ones are those that we carry within ourselves? This multifaceted space curated by the enchanting Eva ignites a profound sense of inspiration. It’s intimate and inviting, filled with stories and memories, providing room for exchange and introspection. It’s a place both complex and soulful, simple and beautiful. Before stepping out into the Athenian evening, Eva gifts us a loaf of bread, smilingly revealing its secret ingredient: “It’s a splash of Cretan wine.” Its aroma will go on delighting us the next day – while the memory of exploring 10AM lofts will linger on.