MDes Interior Design School of Design

Eleni Papantoniou (She/Her)

I am an Architect and Interior Designer with a keen interest in narrative design, immersive spaces, graphics and colour. As part of my practice, I aim to utilise my architectural and design background into shaping interiors through an interdisciplinary perspective. My concepts span in both realms of fiction and non-fiction, hypothetical and real. I believe that strategic design gestures can create memorable experiences for the user, encapsulated within warm and well-thought environments. I hold an architecture degree from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and since 2016 I have joined architectural and design studios based in Thessaloniki, Amsterdam and London.

Diamonds in Space

Diamonds in Space

Humans have been fascinated by diamonds since ancient times, yet very few have access to them due to their rarity and, therefore, price. Although diamonds on earth are rare, it is proven that there is an infinite number of extra-terrestrial ones out in the universe. Given the hypothesis that in the future diamonds will be sourced from outer space in larger dimensions and quantities, this research project investigates how they could be translated into spatial ornaments accessible to everyone.

Through a series of speculative experiments with exaggerated collages and model-making this study attempts to link the diamond’s materiality with theories on interiority, object and kitsch. In combination with observations on its interaction with light, the experiments set an aesthetical context which explores the stone’s impact on human psyche. This collection of data is eventually be represented as a series of illustrated spatial explorations using archetypical forms and basic geometries, paradoxical and unexpected, yet familiar and appealing.

Through a narrative design approach, this proposal challenges the current notions on the dichotomy between decorations and structures in interior design, and expands on the versatility of the diamond as a material beyond its man-made interpretation. By using their eyes and imagination, the viewers are invited to immerse in abstract spaces of beauty and spirituality, scintillation and continuity, eternity and wonder, to connect with their inner selves and celebrate the most desired stone on earth.

Four colour studies on diamonds

From top left: Complementary, Personal, Monochromatic, Grayscale



As a starting point for my experiments, I investigated what the dialogue between a diamond gem and colour can be. The illustrated studies indicate four different approaches: complementary colours, monochromatic theme, grayscale with the diamond being in its most common hue, and the colour combination of blue and pink which is a personal favourite choice.

Each case reveals a potential and makes me think about how an environment can inform the diamond’s presence. I also realised that a diamond’s interaction with light will produce more internal colours within the diamond, adding rainbow effects to an existing setting - a fact that cannot be witnessed in a photo.

Experimental Collage no.1

Barcelona Chair and gems



My exploration continued with a playful task: in a collage format, I combined iconic furniture and architectural elements with diamond gems and colourful backgrounds. The items I chose have played an important role in the evolution of interior and furniture design, and come from various eras and movements: an ancient greek Ionian column [classical], a wall panel detail from the Palace in Versailles [baroque], the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe [modernism], and the Quaderna Table by Superstudio [radical].

The outcome is a comment on history as we know it and an opportunity to imagine a potential alternative reality if diamonds were more present on earth. Would the diamond’s abundance have informed their designer’s creative decision-making? The objects can be described as an exaggerated version of themselves, perhaps on the verge of kitsch - but who is to tell? If we take as a given that beauty is subjective, my eyes only see objects-ornaments of pure aesthetical value.

Experimental Collage no.2

Baroque architectural detail and gem

Experimental Collage no.3

Ancient Greek column and gems

Experimental Collage no. 4

Quaderna Table and gems

Experimental Collage no.5

Patterns with gems



Repetition, pattern and rhythm play an important role in the world of visual arts, including interior design. This exercise was another attempt to challenge the notion of kitsch by using several diamond cuts and colours. Perhaps we have seen maximalist patterns as such in fashion; not only printed but also actual stones sewn on clothes. I wonder - how would such an arrangement look in interior context? What would the impact be on the users experience of space? Thinking about my case study on Angie Crabtree’s artwork, I tend to assume that humans’ engagement with the patterns would be equivalent to the one with her large-scale painted diamonds; an urge to possess earth’s treasures and immerse in the symbolic luxury the crystals offer.

The patterns I created are inspired by jewellery motifs, and the background colours are a reference to the ones of jewellery boxes.


Short video



The photographic exploration made me realise that half the charm of the actual light/crystal interaction can be properly captured only in motion. Using the same setting and camera lens, I produced short videos which comment further on the characteristics of a crystal. Their titles describe atmospheric attributes of the crystal and its game with light. I was particularly mesmerised by ‘Dance’, as the light flecks seem to be dancing and changing geometries depending on how I held the ball crystal and how the light got filtered through.

The videos introduce the space for the experiments which can be nearly anywhere. The sense of scale is intentionally absent, in an attempt to think bigger and relate the setting to interiority. Moreover, I discovered that a diffused light source cannot ‘activate’ the crystal - a strong light beam can only achieve the desired result.


Short video


Short video


Short video


To conclude with my explorations, I tried to draw some direct connections between diamonds and interiority by utilising architectural elements and geometries indicating space in a small-scale model form. The models presented here illustrate three different thematics that derived from my research and previous experiments.

The first one is inspired by the idea of the suncatcher, as discussed earlier. Here, the magnified crystal composition is placed in the centre of a space and is motion sensitive; when a light beam falls on the crystal ball, it gets diffused and projected towards several directions. The movement of the ball causes the light flecks to ‘dance’ around in captivating arrangements.

The second model is a comment on structure and ornament. Thinking about Kant’s ideas on the distinction between the two, I created a column that is highly decorated - an exaggerated version of itself.

The last case is a study on colour, light and space. Inspired by Christopher Alexander’s notion on ‘a secret place’, (Alexander, 1977), I created a wall ‘hidden’ behind two tall door panels. By opening and closing the door I could observe how different levels of light coming into the space would activate the crystals and their relationship with the coloured wall. Once again, light becomes the soul of diamonds, generating different atmospheres dependent on its intensity.

Light filtered through crystal-prism: Projection on surface and shadow close-up

In this image, I was interested to understand how the projection of filtered light would look if the crystal was in direct touch with a surface - the outcome is rather beautiful; All light flecks gather together forming a star shape, with some of them scattered here and there creating rainbows.

Light filtered through crystal-prism: Manipulating the light flecks and their shapes // ‘dancing’ geometries

In this second photo-case I held the crystal in slightly close distance to a surface creating precise light flecks that varied in size and shape. Most of them were purely white while others contained little rainbows.

Light filtered through crystal-prism: Dancing light flecks and rainbows on the distant wall

Here the light flecks spread all over a wall surface from further distance. During the experiment I found out that the sun power throughout the day would have an impact on the intensity of the light flecks.


Thinking about the wider context of interiority, materiality is always a key aspect that impacts our spatial experience significantly. A combination of natural and man-made materials is what we usually witness on our day-to-day reality in different proportions, textures and colours. Diamond is a natural material which also happens to be the hardest one on earth. The more I tried to imagine it in a spatial context the more I started questioning which materials it would be combined well with.

In this experiment I chose three material samples which I used as a base to attach crystals on, organised in patterns. The colours and textures of the gems and materials were chosen carefully to produce outcomes that would raise further questions. Since diamond is a natural material, I wanted to see its interaction with other materials which come from the earth: marble, clay and wood.



Key words: symbolism, emphasis, spirituality, earthy

Since ancient times humans have admired stone. Our relationship with it is so ancient and intimate that we have named the beginning of human history Stone Age. There is a strong spiritual extend to it as well - the Arabian alchemist Morienus once said: “This thing [the philosopher’s stone] is extracted from you: you are its mineral, and one can find it in you” (Ronnberg and Martin, 2010). The diamond as a mineral has equally been celebrated and desired, as the purest form of stone that comes from the great depths of the earth. Because of its hardness, the diamond is considered to exist forever and it therefore symbolises eternity. In recent years, due to marketing strategies a diamond ring has become a symbol of everlasting love, sealing a wedding proposal. Inspired by monolithic monuments and ancient roman rings, I designed a base that holds a gigantic diamond in place; It raises in the middle of the room and is illuminated from the top for a mystical effect. The diamond crystal is left in its original rough state.

Totem Visual

Visual of the Totem in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation



Key words: balance, verticality

“In all the world’s traditional and historic buildings, the columns are expressive, beautiful, and treasured elements. Only in modern buildings have they become ugly and meaningless.” (Alexander, 1977)

Alexander’s timeless words feel very current; ever since the rise of modernism, architects like Adolf Loos condemned the use of ornamentation on structural elements, encouraging designers to eliminate details from columns, stairs and doors in search of purity in form. However, history has proven that the dichotomy between passing charms and pure forms is more complex. Interior design and decoration are more than sartorial additions that cover an engineered structure; they are a necessary dimension that turn architectural space into a livable place with a given stability, desirable order and readable cultural hierarchy (Verschaffel, 2002)

In this scenario, I refer to the diamond as the hardest material on earth and therefore its potential to be used as a structural element, given my hypothesis on diamond abundance was real. Inspired by ancient Greek columns and jewellery, I combined a set of diamond modules-blocks to create the Pillar. The column blocks can be varied endlessly and in the case of a multitude of columns the effect can be spectacular, defining corridors of scintillation.

Pillar Visual

Visual of the Pillar in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation



Key words: rhythm, jewel

A wall, along with a column, is the most present element in the composition of a structure. A wall defines and divides space, provides a sense of scale and adds texture to an interior.

According to Alexander, a wall which is too hard or too cold or too solid is unpleasant to touch; it makes decoration impossible, and creates hollow echoes (Alexander, 1977). He encourages designers to use warm and soft materials like gypsum plaster, hence one of my experiments during my exploration phase was focused on diamonds and plaster. The result was very interesting with a sculptural effect and made me think on a larger scale - how would a wall of diamonds look like?

Inspired by fashion and jewellery design, this wall is meant to be a spatial jewel, celebrating of all the iconic diamond cuts which made it through time.

Wall Visual

Visual of the Wall in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation



Key words: pattern, versatility

My earlier exercise on pattern made me think about repetition in space. A grid is one of the most notable supportive elements of the design process and divides a two or three-dimensional space into smaller various-sized compartments. Grids can be noticed in all design disciplines, being used as a tool by designers to define shapes or proportions, but also as part of the main design composition of an object, drawing or city. That said, jewellery design makes use of grids in a micro-scale which provide an organised and aesthetically pleasing outcome.

In this scenario, I propose a re-imagined grid which is made of diamonds and aluminium, resembling the characteristics of jewellery. The module is versatile in shape and colour. It can be applied on surfaces as adornment or it can stand on its own and create space within space. In my example I chose to present a grid with pink diamonds and pink anodised aluminium, experimenting once again with what can be ‘too much’.

Grid Visual

Visual of the Grid in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation



Key words: unity

In her book From Ornament to Object, Alina Payne discusses the fact that in the late 19th century, an ancient preference for highly ornamented architecture gave way to a rising Modernism of clean lines and unadorned surfaces. At the same moment, everyday objects such as cups, saucers, chairs, and tables began to receive critical attention.

Alina Payne addresses this shift, arguing for a new understanding of the genealogy of architectural modernism: rather than the well-known story in which an absorption of technology and mass production created a radical aesthetic that broke decisively with the past, Payne argues for a more gradual shift, as the eloquence of architectural ornamentation was taken on by objects of daily use. (Payne, 2012)

This scenario is a comment on Payne’s arguments. Being inspired by my earlier collage experiment on historical objects, I used the silhouette of an everyday object - a table - and enhanced its appearance by covering it in diamond gemstones. This gesture can be multiplied and expanded on every surface in the room, to imply a transition from object to ornament and vice versa.

Object Visual

Visual of the Object in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation



Key words: atmosphere, rainbow

Light is the soul of diamonds. Its existence activates the shiny properties of the crystal, such as brilliance and fire. Throughout my experimentation phasis I spent time exploring the interaction of light with my models and became mesmerised by the light flecks and rainbows I witnessed dancing on my wall. This made me think of suncatchers which are designed to capture light beams and spread them around a room. When it comes to diamonds, we are usually the ones who move around them or with them - but what if we stood still and enjoyed their moments of brilliance in a form of a suncatcher?

In this scenario, I attempted to create a spinning diamond suncatcher inspired from geometrical shapes, which hangs in the middle of a room. Its large scale and slow motion in combination with a lighting source project a “dancing” pattern on the surrounding walls, offering the viewer a captivating experience.

Pendant Visual

Visual of the Pendant in an imaginary space - A personal interpretation