Creating Rayva: Savvas Stamatopoulos
In my previous two posts, Cineluxe editor-in-chief Michael Gaughn talked to engineer Paul Stary
and me about our efforts to re-engineer the early Rayva theater designs in order to turn them into
a product that can be economically manufactured, quickly delivered, and easily installed. In this
installment, Michael talks to Rayva’s operations manager Savvas Stamatopoulos and me about
how Savvas cataloged every element of the Rayva designs and created a software system that
allows Rayva to respond instantly to orders placed from anywhere in the world.
Theo Kalomirakis Now that the engineering phase is winding down, Paul’s role is diminishing. Everything now moves into the real world, and that’s where Savvas keeps control of the process. He is now preparing us for actual orders whether the order is here, in India, in Angola, or in Russia. As the business grows, Savvas will be the overall coordinator between individual project managers that will have to be hired for other parts of the world.
Michael Gaughn How does Savvas’s work relate to everything we discussed with Paul—about the re-engineering of the wall panels, etc.?
TK Savvas’s job was to study all the panels needed for a room, and compile an Excel spreadsheet that listed, for example, how many panels were needed for the Illuminations design [shown above] in a small-size room, how many were needed for Illuminations in a large-size room, and so on.
Small rooms have three panels on the wall. Medium rooms have four panels. Bigger rooms have five panels. The price of the theater increases based on the number of panels because you have more components. Since we have 12 designs available for 12 room sizes, we had to come up with 144 templates.
Savvas Stamatopoulos You also have to take into consideration the ceiling height and the position of the door, whether it’s on a side wall—
TK It was a very complex process.
SS Ultimately, we ended up with 500-something different room templates.
TK The bottom line is, Savvas needed to figure out what happens in each room based on its size and its design. So he spent a few weeks recording every single item we see in a theater on a spreadsheet—not from the perspective only of a particular design, but from the perspective of all the designs.
And that plays out on three levels, the first level being the overall design. The second level is, how many panels are in this design? And with something like illuminations, how many fixtures like light sculptures are involved? The third level is determining how many panels there are. How many wood parts do they contain? How many screws? How many wall brackets?
So Savvas created a very comprehensive chart of the parts, which is layered so you can collapse it and see only the overall design, the room. Expand the chart a little, and you see the panels in the room. Expand each panel even more, and you see the wood parts of the panel. Expand it even more, and you see the metal parts.
ABOUT SAVVAS STAMATOPOULOS
Savvas was born in Piraeus, Greece in 1977. He studied Shipping and Logistics at the Business College of Athens and at London Guildhall University.
He began his professional career in 2000, working for a couple of shipping/forwarding companies in Piraeus. In 2001, he became involved in his first major business project, setting up and managing a 3PL (third-party logistics) company whose main purpose was to provide logistics services for the Greek subsidiary of one of the six oil and gas “supermajors,” a collaboration that lasted until 2011.
In 2012, he co-founded a traditional milk and dairy products firm, where he was the executive manager until 2018, when the company merged with a large trading and importing firm of the sector.
Savvas joined the Rayva team in the summer of 2018, where he is responsible for creating the software to list and track all of the elements in the company’s theater designs. He also manages project costing and operations.
He enjoys playing music, free diving & spearfishing, and spending time with his dogs as a way to balance the stressful everyday life of logistics management.
This was a very comprehensive process of analyzing the product from the point of view of codifying everything so we could create list of parts that can go to a manufacturer. That is what Savvas has been doing before even Paul came onboard.
MG Where are you in the process right now?
SS At the moment, we’re trying to find the sweet spot between an artistic creation and an industrial product, because these rooms were designed by some very gifted designers and artists here in Greece—in my opinion, they are works of art.
You know art, by definition, usually doesn’t take into consideration cost, or the logistics of production, the ease of installation, transportation, storage, and so on. So we need to find ways to facilitate these things, and to turn these designs into an industrial product without making any compromises to the artistic aspect of the theater.
This is what we’re doing right now with the help of Paul, who’s an excellent engineer. He is breaking each aspect of the theaters into the smallest possible parts so we can ensure that they’re always the same and easy to to install. And so I can know beforehand what the delivery time will be, how much it will cost, and so on. He is re-engineering every aspect of the theaters, because for an industrial product to be successful you need to be able to produce it for the lowest possible cost. This is our main challenge right now.
I am inputting each part into MRP [material requirements planning] software. Each theater consists of many, many parts such as wood frames, metal brackets, magnets, and wiring conduits.
When someone says they want to have a certain design for a certain room size, we input it in the system and it shows us exactly what are the materials we need from the last screw to the biggest part, how much it will cost, how long do you need to be ready, and so on.
MG If I’m understanding the process correctly, the wall panels are the one constant in every design.
SS Yes, these panels are the key elements in a Rayva theater. What is different is the fabric that goes over the panel. In some designs, the fabric is printed with a drawings or pictures. And in other designs, there are custom design elements attached to them.
TK Basically, the panels as an item are always the same.
SS The frame is more or less the same.
TK We have about 12 panel sizes, but it’s the same item, just the size changes. And then it gets a cover. And on top of the cover, we have design elements. These are the three elements: The panel, the fabric that covers them, and the artwork that goes in front of them.
MG Right. So I’m hoping you can fill me in on some of the steps along the way. For instance, Antonia Papatzanaki’s designs use light sculptures [shown at right] that would be considered works of art.
MG What impact does that have on the whole engineering and reproduction process because when you’re building something more utilitarian like a car, you’re not dealing with artists and individual sculptures?
TK Each artwork is addressed as an individual element that needs to be engineered in a different way than the artist intended. For example, Antonia’s fixture is 50 pounds. It would be difficult to install something that heavy. So, Paul re-engineered it to make it easier to manufacture, easier to mount, and much lighter than it was. Originally, the support for the sculpture had to go through the panel and be attached to the wall because it was so heavy the panel couldn’t support it. But now, that sculpture is so light that it can be mounted on the panel itself without having to create a hole in the panel in order to reach the wall.
Every artwork is engineered to maintain its integrity, because we want to make sure that no matter how we re-build it, it looks like what the artist envisioned.
MG Who acts as the intermediary between the artist and Rayva?
TK I receive the artwork from the artists. The artwork then goes to Paul, who re-engineers it. And when it’s finished, I show it to the artist so they sign off. We don’t want the artist involved with the engineering process because we have a very specific way of creating consistency and unanimity in how we engineer things.
MG Does that pose any unique challenges? Especially, considering the diversity of the kind of art you’re incorporating.
TK The only limitation is the imagination of the engineer. We’re not talking about developing a rocket that goes to the moon. It’s not that complex—it’s an artwork. If you have an engineering background, you can look inside the hood—I’m using the same analogy for the artwork that I used for the re-engineering of the wall panels—and you find out what it is.
For example, we had a challenge with the Origami design. You’ve seen the fabric that covers the Origami triangles, right?
TK I didn’t like how the fabric was folded at the edges of the triangle; it wasn’t clean. So Paul said, “Are you opposed to having a paint that looks
like fabric? That way we don’t have to deal with the wrapping methods for the ends of the fabric.” I said, “No.” So, he found a paint by DuPont that’s sprayed. It’s the color of the fabric, and it has the texture of velvet, of linen.
In the process of re-engineering, we’re addressing issues we have with the original artwork from the perspective of, “How do we simplify it? How do we make the process faster? And how do we change the method of fabrication without betraying the concept of the artist?”
This is the beautiful thing about having an artist working with an engineer—it’s a collaborative effort. If you work with smart people, let them make creative decisions. What I find exciting and exhilarating about the development process is that I’ve learned to trust people.
When I was a custom designer, everything had to come to me to be approved because it was a creative decision, quote unquote. I had to have the last word. I didn’t allow designers to make the big decisions. I made them myself.
I didn’t trust people before. But this time I do.
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.