Creating Rayva: Dimitris Theodorou
Dimitris Theodorou has turned out to be much more than just an excellent architect. He created
the striking Origami theater design for Rayva, and has since followed it up with the bold Light
Edge (shown above). Cineluxe editor-in-chief Michael Gaughn recently interviewed Dimitris and
me as part of my series of conversations with the prime movers behind Rayva. We discussed
Dimitris’ surprising emergence as an innovative designer, and some of the challenges we faced
with his first designs.
Theo Kalomirakis I met Dimitris through a friend. That introduction didn’t have anything to do with creating new designs. It had to do with needing to have somebody architecturally develop the original templates for all the Rayva theaters. But as I got to know him, I realized he has a talent beyond being an architect—he’s an artist. So once I started reaching out to designers in Greece and other parts, Dimitris said, “You know what? Now that I know what the whole Rayva system is like, let me come up with something.”
Michael Gaughn That turned out to be the Origami theme, right?—which has been Rayva’s most successful design so far, if I’m not mistaken.
MG Was there any particular inspiration for that design or did it just come from playing around with shapes?
Dimitris Theodorou I’ve always liked triangular shapes, and I thought, let’s try them in a bigger space. I wondered how they could be used in complicated and interesting combinations in a theater. I took that simple form and tried it in different positions and angles in a typical dedicated home theater room. I started by dividing a simple rectangle, and then I folded it so that it became 3D. I liked the result, so I started developing the design with Theo.
We then decided to add light fixtures to it. I added illumination to the pyramid shapes, so that light comes out of that form. I think the combination of the unlighted and lighted pyramids creates some interesting forms and shadows.
We have a very simple form that, multiplied by the shape itself, has the ability to create a more interesting design. That is the concept of Light Edge, too. I’m fascinated by complex constructions that arise out of simple forms.
MG Home theater spaces present a really unique design challenge. They’re not just another room. They’re not just about four walls and entryways and windows. So what were some of the challenges of creating that first design? Was there a learning curve to it?
TK It was mostly making sure that whatever design we came up with could be applied to our backdrop, which are our panels, which can fit in any room, any size. We created the equivalent of a Lego system where you add panels to address the needs of larger rooms and take out panels for smaller rooms. That flexibility is the backbone of Rayva.
The challenge was, how do we come up with something that can be showcased in front of the panels and doesn’t hide speakers or cover too much of the acoustical treatments? We needed to balance the function and the role of the artwork with the need to adhere to the technical specifications.
DT Because you can’t really know the position of the
ABOUT DIMITRIS THEODOROU
Dimitris Theodorou was born in Athens, Greece in 1983.
He studied interior and furniture design at the Technological Educational Institute of Athens and then Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens. While pursuing his Masters degree, he began working as a freelance architect on many projects both alone and with others.
Dimitris received his Masters in “Theory in Architecture” in the summer of 2018, which made him very happy since he can now focus on his own work.
He has participated in many architectural competitions in Greece, from which he has gained three distinctions.
Dimitris joined the Rayva team in February of 2017. His main responsibility has been to develop all the different room templates, categorized by theme and size, while also managing the company’s current projects. He has designed two themes for Rayva’s portfolio: Origami and Light Edge.
He enjoys walking around Athens and shooting photos of buildings, ruins, and . . . cats. He also enjoys listening to music and more rarely—because of lack of time—skiing.
speakers ahead of time, Origami and Light Edge provide a lot of flexibility for the positioning of the design elements. Instead of creating a design that can only be positioned one way, I designed the theme as a whole, and just gave it a structure, a grid, so its elements can be repositioned as needed.
TK The light fixtures are movable objects, so they can be positioned around the speakers and never have to cover them. The ingenuity of the system is that it offers so much flexibility. Unlike the fixtures in some of the other design themes, which must be in a specific location in the center of the panel, the Origami design elements can be placed wherever we want to look good without obstructing the technology behind the panels.
MG So, for purely functional reasons, you can actually end up with unique rooms, because you need to position the fixtures differently every time.
TK Every room will look different. The same design elements, but differently positioned every time.
DT The beauty of Origami is that you have only one very simple fixture, but it is very versatile and can lead to numerous designs.
MG What was it like for both of you translating the design itself into reality?
TK Well, we took the design and gave it to a manufacturer, and told them to bring it to life, but that was not the right approach. We kind of lost control by having it developed without us being part of the engineering to make sure that the design would work. So after we met Paul Stary, we gave the design to him and he deconstructed it. He took it apart in multiple pieces and tried to put it together in a way that is always under his control. He created a set of blueprints that we can now give to any factory in the world, and they can manufacture the same light fixture every time.
MG We’ve already written about one of the Origami installations, and I know there are others on order. Have you executed more than one?
TK We have executed two, and we have another one that’s going to Angola. We have others that are already in showrooms.
MG Do you have any orders yet for Light Edge?
TK We had the same challenge with Light Edge that we had with Origami. It was originally engineered without the right approach to creating the product. Paul is in the process of finalizing the engineering drawings for both Light Edge and Origami.
MG When you were working on Origami, did Dimitris do a lot of the work on the design and then present it to you for comment or did both of you work on it all along the way?
DT We shared some thoughts at the beginning, and then I did some initial drawings, and that was pretty much the
whole theme. When there’s an order, we discuss how to accommodate the exact position of the speakers, and then it goes into production. It’s so simple, really.
DT We shared some thoughts at the beginning, and then I did some initial drawings, and that was pretty much the whole theme. When there’s an order, we discuss how to accommodate the exact position of the speakers, and then it goes into production. It’s so simple, really.
TK An issue we had to deal with was making sure to orient the triangles so the light from the fixtures wouldn’t wash out the screen. You can always turn them off, of course, when the movie plays. But if you want to leave them slightly on, the ones facing the screen create a problem. So we don’t have any lights facing the screen.
MG I also noticed that the rendering of Light Edge [shown at the top of the page] shows some of the fixtures positioned on the ceiling as well.
DT Yes, that can be an option, but only with Light Edge, not Origami. The Origami fixtures are too big to put on the ceiling.
MG Is Light Edge the only design where you have the option of having a light element there?
TK No, Movement is another one. It uses LED lights on the wall and the ceiling panel.
MG Whose design was that?
TK It was originally designed for a custom theater. But we modularized it and it became a Rayva design, except it’s not designed by a specific artist.
Theo Kalomirakis is widely considered the father of home theater, with scores of luxury theater
designs to his credit. He is also an avid movie fan, with a collection of over 15,000 discs. Theo
is the Executive Director of Rayva.