Traditional folk culture is becoming increasingly endangered thanks to our modern world. But on the flip side of that coin, the same advances that have allowed us to leave the bygone ways of life behind also allow us to appreciate our roots in ways that were previously unfathomable. Petros Kaminiotis, the designer and creator of PlaymoGreek, channels his passion for folk dance and traditional Greek dress into his favorite childhood toys. Having designed elaborate miniature outfits for his Playmobil dolls from a young age, he has now turned his hobby into an effort to bring more awareness, education, and appreciation to Greek folk culture and dress.
“The Greek traditional costumes are of great interest to me because of their wide variety, numerous elements they comprise, and the various techniques that are applied to them,” Kaminiotis tells My Modern Met. “This is what I wish to capture with PlaymoGreek, and this is the reason why I try to give the highest possible detail.”
The process of creating the figurines is a time-consuming one. Kaminiotis starts with intense research into the traditional clothes of various regions of Greece, including the individual variants of styles based on gender, age, and socio-economic status. The avid enthusiast then goes on to create patterns, sew the garments, and outfit the Playmobils. He even adorns them with culturally accurate jewelry and accessories. “On average, more than one week of dawn-to-dusk work is required for the whole process, ” Kaminiotis explains. “My collection is composed of 60 different traditional costumes so far, and their creation has taken approximately six years.”
Unquestionably engaged in a labor of love, Kaminiotis hopes to transmit his own enthusiasm and spark interest in those who may not have previously been exposed to traditional Greek dress. His passion for the subject was cultivated from his youth by his participation in folk dance performances; he hopes to establish a similar connection with young audiences through the beloved Playmobil toys. “One of the reasons why I started this idea was the opportunity I had to present traditional costumes in a more contemporary and creative way—through a worldwide popular toy—and attract the younger generations, especially children.”
Greek tradition could be considered stuck in the past, which is all the more motivation for its translation into PlaymoGreek. “This is the reason why we should ‘see’ it in a different, more modern, way and embrace it in our everyday life—in order not only to maintain our roots and culture,” Kaminiotis says, “but also develop a creative discussion among the different civilizations and understand what makes us different and, mainly, what connects us.”