In the early 1910s Florentini Kaloutsi, a young, talented and acknowledged painter with studies in London, overwhelmed by the archaeological findings at Knossos, Crete, decided to transfer to the loom the designs of the Minoan frescoes. Her aim was to revive the already forgotten Cretan weaving art. She used, for the first time in Greece, graph paper to sketch on it the minoan designs in order to achieve a more accurate and detailed depiction of the patterns by the weavers.
The enthusiastic public response to her work encouraged F.K to enrich the variety of her patterns with folk art designs, mainly cretan, and with her own creations. Starting with only one aide, very soon she expanded her workshop to employ 150 weavers, thus setting up one of the earliest home handicraft industries in Greece, named in 1925 “DOUBLE AXE”. In addition to the weavings F.K applied her motifs on chests, chairs, tables, shelves, bookcases, all designed by her.
“DOUBLE AXE” flourished during the mid-war period, being widely known for its hand-woven cotton, linen and silk textiles; private homes, public institutions like the Marika Iliadi maternity hospital, private companies, consulates, even the Delphic Games organised by the poet Angelos Sikelianos and Eva Palmer have been using “D.A”‘s creations. In addition to its Greek success, “D.A” exported its textiles to USA and Europe winning awards in major trade competitions. It became particularly known in London because of its dresses made for the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in 1938.
In the post-war period “D.A” is again active and flourishing, adding handmade jewelry and ceramic artifacts to its collections; it specialized in house decorations and supplied its female clientele with traditional jewelry and hand-woven outfits. Its prized textiles were chosen among others by Jackie Onassis to furnish the villa on Scorpios island, by well known Greek artists, director K.Koun and costume designer A.Fokas for their theater productions and by the National Archaeological Museum for dressing its showcases.
In the course of time “D.A”‘s branch boutiques could be found besides Chania and Athens, in Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Patras and on the island of Paros.
Florentini Kaloutsi passed away in 1971, working till the end. Her artistic legacy is enormous: the majotity of the weavings produced today in Crete are modifications of her original designs. The municipality of Chania and the Ministry of Culture coordinated in 2019 in Chania an exhibition/ tribute to her work and achievements.
DOUBLE AXE run today by the second generation of F.K’s family, always located in the heart of the city of Athens, displays a vast variety of creations in jewelry and artifacts true to the rich artistic legacy of its founder.