First published in early 2016
Howard Popeck: Hi Kostas. Unusual design, to say the least. What’s led to this?
Kostas Metaxas: Hi Howard. After 40 years of creating audio equipment, the last thing that I wanted to produce was "another box with transistors on a heatsink". I was dreaming of the most spectacular architecture, design and sculpture I had experienced and wanted to bring that emotional intensity, daring and seductive beauty to an audio amplifier.
So in a nutshell, The SOLITAIRE 2016 is the result?
So … what’s so special?
Well ….. it’s machined from a solid block of either aircraft aluminum, copper or titanium, it's totally bespoke and the modular electronics make it future-proof. Even the circuit boards can be CNC machined from 1mm solid silver coated clear polystyrene.
Designed entirely by you – am I correct?
100% designed and engineered by me – Kostas Metaxas. Each amplifier is assembled by my sons – either Andreas or Alessandros Metaxas.
A family business in the truest sense of the word – correct?
So, the launch ….
The SOLITAIRE 2016 along with the IKARUS Integrated Amplifier and OPUS preamplifier will be "world premiered" at the Munich Hi End Hi Fi Show in May 2016 .
You’ve got a ‘thing’ about sources; we discussed this some years back when you were located in Australia. Any surprises in your 2016 room?
As a treat, a Studer A80 will be playing 10" Analogue Master Tapes from a selection of the over 300 Classical and Jazz concerts recorded by me on my modified Stellavox Tape equipment.
We'll be sharing our room with Christian Yvon's [designer of Goldmund Speakers] Apertura Speakers.
How will you deal – in practical terms – with room acoustics in Munich, if any?
My friends at Apertura have used this particular room for the past few shows, so they're quite familiar with acoustic treatment it needs - but it's a Hi Fi Show, so you do the best you can within the limitations.
Any decisions yet re interconnects an speaker cables?
I'll be using my ENOSSIS cables that I developed with my amplifiers quite a few years ago - special "Australian" copper, shielded in flexible steel casing.
Like your microphone cables used for recording concerts?
Exhibition halls and rooms are notorious for unclean mains. If you encounter this, do you have practical solutions?
I try to avoid using more than my ENOSSIS AC cables as most AC mains "cleaners" tend to slow down the transient deliveries of the mu-metal transformers that I use.
Okay – may we now discuss Kostas – the man behind the image?
Okay so ..... who are you?
I’m an award winning artist and audio designer, electrical and recording engineer, Magazine Editor/Publisher and a Filmmaker/Broadcast Producer who covers fashion, design, gastronomy and the arts with over 1000 documentary interviews and two awarded feature films [www.ikon.tv] to my credit.
Okay; I sense there’s more though and so …. ?
And so … I've been drawn to the shapes and textures of old master painters and sculpture since Iwas a teenager. About the same time, I was introduced to Hi-End Hi Fi equipment and fell in love with the art of the reproduction of music. To me, art and design is “visual music”. Unable to afford expensive Hi Fi equipment, I taught myself electrical engineering and started producing ….. which turned into his first business.
Great. So far, so good. What about your publishing ventures; can you tell us about that?
Hungry for knowledge about art and design, I started a magazine in 1986 so I could interview great artists and designers worldwide, learn from them, and feed my own creativity.
Simple as that?
Simple as that!
Okay – now a ‘left-field’ question if I may. What’s it like to be a designer?
It's like "making" a baby...Designing feels ….. euphoric.
Is that it?
No, not quite. I enjoy working with materials – metal, glass, ceramic, plastic and subverting technology, like using dental techniques to create jewelry and watches. Both the traditional manufacturing methods and the latest software or their combination work great for me.
How does that translate into practical reality?
I think of the big picture first, then the details and the best methods to create them.
Which means that …..?
I strongly believe in balance with a twist, in the fight between chaos and order, with a little intrigue thrown in. A bit of theatre, a bit of utility – there needs to be substance, it should be useful, it should also invoke experimenting and playfulness with infinite possibilities..
Okay, before we say goodbye and, incidentally I’m looking forward to a part #2 interview in 2016, perhaps after Munich, do you have some advice to young designers?
Yes, certainly. Research the breathtaking work of others, and wait until your idea exceeds that standard, otherwise it has no reason to exist. Do your absolute best. If you’re not motivated, don’t do it. Give life to an object which never existed before.
Fine words, inspirational perhaps and thank you. Before we go, and forgive me if I appear cynical which – I want to assure you I’m not – how much of the those sentiments apply to you personally?
All of them. That’s what I’m doing, and I love every moment of it.
Thank you Kostas for your time
And thank you Howard for yours
Hi Fi Catalogue:
2015 Art-Design Highlights Catalogue:
2012 Kostas Metaxas speech at MUNICH HIGH END : Recording with Analogue Tape.
FULL RANGE TVC:
CNC Machining of Metaxas Amplifier from a block of solid metal:
For more information: