Carved into the volcanic cliffside above the Aegean Sea, Vora Santorini in Greece comprises three villas designed by Dimitris Karambatakis and Marianna Stavridou of K-STUDIO Architecture. “We wanted to celebrate the inherent energy of Santorini island itself, and its longstanding local architectural traditions and techniques, in a contemporary way,” says owner Yannis Bellonias. “The basic element of the design was to bridge tradition with contemporary life.”
The story of Vora is one of duality: inspiration drawn from old cave houses on the island harmonize with modern, minimalist finishes. White limewash and pale linens contrast with charred wood and blackened gun metal, creating a chiaroscuro effect. “We focus on the details to achieve the perfect balance between the island’s geography, local tradition, and contemporary design,” says Bellonias. He describes the understated luxury as Cycladic minimalism—the interiors serving as a light, airy cocoon.
With its breathtaking views and soft curves, Vora evokes a sense of calm, but also vitality. “The energy of the island is so powerful,” says Bellonias. “The volcanic rock landscape with its drama, its vineyards, and the sulfur in the ground gives you an energy that you can feel only when you visit.”
The island brings him back to his childhood, he says—the local products, the dishes he learned from his grandparents. “We are more than just a place to stay. From meals cooked by a private chef and bespoke cocktails made to order, to excursions to lesser-known parts of the island, everything is tailor-made for each guest,” says Bellonias. “We have applied the same attention to detail to the experience of staying here as we have the design and build of the actual structure of Vora.”
Small and intimate, Vora doesn’t try to appeal to the masses. Because of that, Bellonias says he can put an incredible amount of energy and effort into the details and the guests’ privacy. “I love it because it’s a place where you can experience the magic of Santorini, yet avoid the crowds,” he says. “I searched for years to find my perfect site in order to bring my vision to reality and share the authentic Santorini of my childhood with guests. There’s nothing else like it on the island.”