Connecting the dots
You will spot the mystical symbol Ψ all around Copenhagen restaurants, cafés and bars these days, the 23 letter of the Greek alphabet, psi. Emblematic of countless concepts in the world of science and philosophy, this particular letter stands for Psyche Organic, exceptional olive oil from an unusual point of view.
The brainchild of Greek-American photographer and independent publisher Theophilos Constantinou and alongside Danish creative strategist Michael Roloff, Psyche Organic works with biodynamic farmers in the southwestern Peloponnese growing Koroneiki, a variety of olive renowned for its taste, cold-pressing superior quality single estate oil — green, liquid gold. Encountering the principles of Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka while working at a farm in Greece, Constantinou shifted his focus. He went from being a photographer and respected independent publisher with Paradigm Publishing in New York to opening a shop that only sells one product in Copenhagen.
“People always ask me how you do a store that only trades in one product, which confuses me. That’s being a specialist. Like a really good bike shop or the Japanese stores specializing in doing one thing really great. We sell one pure product that has an entire universe around it,” says Constantinou.
“The real byline is transparency, in the supply chain, who I am working with — I know the farmers personally, their names, how they live, how they engage with their plants and trees. That is part of the symbiotic relationship I want to have with food and in our lives,” he explains. Emphasizing how most olive oil sold in supermarkets is a mix of many varieties and crops, grown under conditions that exploit the soil and the people growing and picking the olives, Constantinou wants Psyche’s oil to showcase the process of vetting, knowing the origins of one of our most essential ingredients.
“Olive oil is one of the most corrupt industries within food. So our work is about making that kind of quality available to people, providing an alternative that means buying into heritage and history rather than bullshit. That means talking to people, inviting them in,” says Constantinou.
Once you have tasted the real deal, it is hard to go back. Yes, many use olive oil in the culinary context, but there are thousands of years of culture built on its status as a life enhancer, using it for skincare, hair, for digestion, as medicine. Psyche Organic’s store on Jægerborgsgade is dotted with work from friends and collaborators, their interior made by designer Nikolaj Mentze, oil is served on ceramics by Franca Christina alongside bread from the local bakery Rondo. Flowers are arranged weekly by Roloff’s partner and spatial designer Marie Due. It is a joined effort. They recently collaborated with Danish chef Fredrik Bille Brahe and NYC artist Curtis Kulig on a limited edition of bottled oil hand-painted by Kulig for Bille Brahe’s quintessential café Atelier September.
Many of Constantinou and Roloff’s mates and previous collaborators pop up in Psyche’s universe, a tender meeting between New York skate culture and Copenhagen’s eccentric art and design community. “We have been closely working with our friends at Scars Pizza in New York since day one. Right now they are shooting a video with a t-shirt company called Barriers—both are these incredible black-owned businesses—a collab with my friend and closest collaborator over the last six years, the photographer Anthony Jamari Thomas. I feel like that encompasses precisely what our work at Psyche Organic is about: connecting the dots,” Constantinou shares.
“Collaboration is fundamental, I cannot do what I do without others, it allows one to bring together people, disciplines and universes that would not normally meet,” says Constantinou.