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Alin Popa

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Handycraft, Interview
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“Lamps that seem to be coming from a theatre set – interview with Andrei Ignia, founder of Bulb27”.

October 13, 2016
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You have an unusual project that you define as applied art in vintage-industrial design. Where did this idea come from, and what’s the origin story of Bulb27?

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Bulb27 emerged four years ago as a response to a personal need – my living quarters required lighting fixtures. I flirted with a couple of other ideas, but then I saw a Kozo-type lamp and wanted to have my own personalized version. That is how the Bulb27 lamp was created, made of a welded pipe and a water faucet used as a switch. The satisfaction I got from this first lamp made me consider taking things to the next level, and try copper pipes in another project called Cubru (it was an almost cube-shaped fixture made of interwoven copper pipes and an old tractor headlight). Jumping from one experiment to another, I ended up with a total of ten fixtures, and that is when I realized that it would be interesting to put together an exhibition. In October 2013 I had my first lamp exhibition at the Meru Gallery in Iași, which was very well received, especially because it was something completely different from what was usually being exhibited in the city. Afterwards, I started talking about what I was doing and I came into contact with the people from Dizainăr and Mihnea Ghilduș. This was the most important step for Bulb27, which marked the entry into the Romanian design market.

What is the usual starting point when you work on a project? What is your technical-artistic process?

With the first collection, I would begin with the object every time, sometimes simply with the light bulb, as, at the time, Edison incandescent filament light bulbs had just entered the European market. For the first lamps I wandered through flea markets in Iași and Amsterdam, and I was also active on eBay bids. I discovered objects I knew absolutely nothing about, to which I was attracted due to their shapes and the quality of their materials. The starting points for the next collections consisted of predefined concepts or at least a main theme. The second collection revolved around the concept of coffee and old letters used in the letterpress technique, the main element of the third collection was a tripod, and I am currently working on the fourth collection, which converts old Romanian commercial adverts into lighting fixtures.

Andrei-Ignia-Bulb27

When I visited your website, the first thing that caught my eye was your creativity – the fact that every creation seems to be part of a theatrical universe, of a well-defined scenography. Where do you find your inspiration? Is there a story for each creation?

Indeed, the lamps do seem to be coming from theatre plays, especially because of the fact that the light they emit is quite dramatic. Almost every single one has a special story, which originates in that of each main constituting element. For instance, for the Lille Brunet lamp, I used a radio speaker made in France in 1925, which after nine decades still had its original paint and logo. I found information about the speaker on an organization’s website: http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/brunet_g1.html.

I believe that the inspiration for each lamp appears when I come into contact with an object and its story, after which I start looking for fitting textile electrical cables and light bulbs, in order to preserve its authenticity; an energy saving light bulb would disrupt the speaker’s story and history.

Lille-Brunet-2 Bulb27

On your website, you talk about various objects that, with the new use you find for them, come to switch functions. How do you come across these objects? Do you start with an idea and then look for the object, or vice versa? 

The first steps varied from one collection to another – I either started with an idea, or with whatever item I found while bidding online. The items were purchased in European flea markets or on websites, and the latter also brought in some American objects. I would say the Bulb27 project is made up of 60-70% research. With the help on Google Translate, my online searches are carried out in Polish, English, French, German, Spanish etc., as this is the only way I can reach the sources and find the websites of local collectors.

In terms of structure and shape, your product somewhat differs from the general perception of what a lighting fixture is supposed to look like. Who are your clients and how do you attract them, or how do they find you?

The Bulb27 lamps are based at the Dizainăr store, alongside a ton of other Romanian design items. In the end, they are work instruments for interior designers who come up with audacious proposals for modern apartments, pubs or offices. A good share of the clients see the lamps in specialized Romanian magazines or even on Dizainăr’s website.

Bulb27

To what extent do you attempt to educate your clients on the importance of lighting fixtures?

I believe this type of education is satisfactorily covered by specialized magazines, as well as by Pinterest, actually. While a lot of people invest in their homes, furniture and high-quality materials, there is a sort of blockage when it comes to lighting the space and enhancing its aesthetic potential. What I can do in such a situation, if I come into contact with the client, is to propose different types of lighting for various areas. The same Bulb27 lamp can look in at least three different ways depending on the light bulb it uses.

Bulb27

Is there a market in Romania for these unusual lamps?

The Romanian design market has started to develop thanks to the designers who bring forward increasingly bolder proposals, but also thanks to design events such as the Romanian Design Week or Zain in Cluj. Up to now, I managed to sell around 32 out of 35 products, which I believe is a good indication of the Romanian market in terms of out-of-the-ordinary lighting fixtures.

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Do you have your own workshop?

Starting this year, I have a large workshop, which is open to both the curious and to those who wish to do some creative work. It is located in Hubrica, the first creative hub in Iași, where I am one of the founding members. I will make arrangements to properly photograph the site, and I will publish the outcome online.

How would you describe Bulb27 right now, and how do you see it in the future?

From the very beginning up to present day, Bulb27 has been an experiment that has always been a mere passion. I believe this won’t change in the future because I am extremely happy with how things are going. The lamp sales allow me to invest in new professional equipment, as well as in high-quality materials.

 

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You can find the Bulb27 products at www.bulb27.ro
Photo by Bulb27

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