Professor Ioannis Michaloudis on how the sky’s the limit when it comes to science, art and design

Professor Ioannis Michaloudis has worked on many exciting projects throughout his career and there will certainly be more in the future, but a groundbreaking collaboration with French designers Fashion Design brand Coperni is what has most recently caught the world’s attention.

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With 99% of the bag made of air and 1% of glass, Coperni debuted its new Air Swipe Bag in its FW24 show, having commissioned Michaloudis to build the bag using nanomaterial silica aerogel, described as the lightest solid on planet Earth.

Speaking to CBN recently, Dr Michaloudis, who is the Founding Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at The American University of Cyprus in Larnaca, revealed more about how the collaboration came about.

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Fluent in Greek, English and French, he also talked about his other projects and plans for the future, as well as his approach to teaching students at AUCY.

Michaloudis’ enthusiasm for arts and science was evident even over a Zoom call and it is clear this sincere passion for everything he does has been a driving force in Michaloudis’ ongoing success. While having a career spanning several countries and many years, Michaloudis was also modest, disclosing that he feels that he is learning from his students just as much as he is teaching them.

Revealing more about his role in the creation of the Air Swipe Bag, Michaloudis said that Coperni had reached out to him via a company’s website through which he resells his stunning ‘Bottled Sky’ nanomaterial silica aerogel creations.

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“I have developed the trade secrets requited use silica aerogel,” he explained, adding that, once the request came, the race to complete the project within some 90 days began.

While the majority of the work was carried out at NCSR "DEMOKRITOS" where Michaloudis is a Research Associate, the logo displayed on the finished project was actually created by the Professor at a Cyprus University of Technology facility in Limassol.

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The Professor was quick to note, as well as being a beautiful material in itself, there was also huge potential for the practical use of nanomaterial silica aerogel in a range of disciplines and industries, including architecture, for example being incorporated in glass paneling to let in light, but keep out heat.

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Reaching far beyond his recent cooperation with Coperni, Michaloudis’ artistic and academic career so far is proof that art and science can be successfully combined. The Professor shared his first memory of considering the relation between the two, when, as a child, he observed how droplets of rain were impacted after landing in the dust.

Returning to the project with Coperni, Michaloudis noted that challenges included the tight time frame and truckers’ strike in Germany delaying the arrival of vital materials. However, with the support of his colleagues, the project was completed with the addition of a pocket within the bag to achieve its current form. Several earlier efforts had not achieved the desired shape and effect. As this was something the designers had not originally considered, since Coperni’s Swipe Bags have until now not included a pocket, Michaloudis considers the step to be an example of flexibility between collaborators.

And, collaboration is something that Michaloudis indicated he is always eager to embrace, welcoming other academics and the general public to learn more about the projects he and his students are involved in at AUCY.

Recent activities include the (SKALA)2 project, a site-specific installation installed in the gardens of Pierides Museum for the Biennale of Larnaca 2023, commemorating the time when Larnaca housed oil tanks by using a staircase from one of the dismantled tanks for a new, artistic purpose.

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Michaloudis, meanwhile, will also be having his work featured in a solo exhibition at the prestigious Venice Glass Week later this year and be a keynote speaker at a high-level Energy summit, speaking to delegates about the importance of the sky.

This seems very fitting since it appears his decades of know-how and experience, paired with an ongoing thirst for learning and willingness to share his skills with others make Michaloudis a perfect ambassador for the sentiment that the sky is the limit.

More about Professor Ioannis Michaloudis:

As well as his positions at AUCY and NCSR "DEMOKRITOS", Michaloudis is also a Visual Strategist at Aerogel Technologies and Executive Director of Art & Nanotechnology SME MICHALOUdis SME.

He has also been a member of the adjunct faculty at the International Space University in France, Coordinator Higher Degrees by Research at Charles Darwin University in Australia, Head of the Interior Department and earlier Head of Interior Design at Kingdom University in Bahrain.

These followed positions at Curtin University in Australia, the Technological Educational Institute of Athens, European Space Agency, Iowa State University and Les Arts Decos.

He has carried out Post-Doctoral Research at MIT and has a Doctorate in Visual Arts from University of Paris 1: Panthéon-Sorbonne, from where Michaloudis also has a Master in Visual Arts.

He has a Master of Design from Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and a Bachelor in Interior Design from the University of West Attica.

Michaloudis has also widely exhibited his art and design work throughout the world.

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(Photos courtesy of Professor Ioannis Michaloudis)

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