A magical Bucharest

(special thanks to my dear friend Rubama who made me see my city with different, more appreciative eyes)

When creating this blog my intention was to write and share the experiences on travel and design I have when being abroad. However it seems I have neglected a part that is so representative of my own culture and has been my teacher in appreciating beauty and art – my home city Bucharest. Having always compared it to the more glamorous, better organised and promoted Western cities poor old Bucharest never stood a chance in making it to my blog but the truth is that despite it’s many shortcomings this city has been flourishing in terms of design and culture in the past few years. So much that this December every weekend we’ve had design and handcrafted gift fairs all competing for people’s attention and generosity – fashion, hand made jewelry, pottery, interior design and many many others.

In the pictures below you’ll notice the huge comeback of Arts and Crafts style represented in the works of most Romanian designers. It’s not just the handiwork and the raw, natural materials but mostly the use of traditional motifs from textiles to furniture and ceramics. We’ve seen a growing trend of appreciation for Romanian traditional design with brands becoming mainstream such as Iiana, Iutta, Demetria and many others. The Christmas fairs I chose to show here are the ones that celebrate the most this new trend – Made in Ro and Marché de Noël both being located in posh locations in the city.


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My favourite piece was the unconventional eco Christmas kit, a beautiful alternative to cutting down the real trees. It’s created by ‘ The Little Things’ workshop and it’s made of 6mm wooden plaque tree and re-usable wooden Christmas balls. Although it’s 100% Romanian design it has this minimalist Nordic feel and was probably no 1 attraction at the Made in Ro fair.
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Cloud lamps, happy stickers, stuffed toys and clay figurines create a playful atmosphere that isn’t just for children.design2

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Also one of my favourite pieces – wooden sculpted magnets and Christmas tree decorations. I couldn’t leave the booth without getting a few for myself._DSC0678 _DSC0674

Talented craftsmen use their skills to recreate in clay the Medieval architecture of Transylvanian houses._DSC0670

I see a lot of interest growing for design ceramics and hand painted objects. Rather then getting full Ikea dining sets people prefer acquiring objects with a story. It’s a beautiful way to get some distance from the consumerist move that’s been swallowing our buying habits and encourage young artists to pursue their talents especially in a developing society such as the Romanian one. It’s a sign of social maturity from people turning from buying high street brands and hyper market products to investing into art pieces no matter how small.
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Next stop – one of my favourite places in Bucharest –  Acuarela Bufet. Yes it’s not a Christmas fair but it’s very representative in terms of design and your artists. And they have amazing food!

The design is a window in the communist era when Pepsi bottles were being kept not thrown away, when people would listen to vinyl disks and military leather bags were the high fashion. Acuarela is a mystical place evoking times that many of its customers born in the late 80s or 90s don’t remember or haven’t even lived. These are times we try to remember not for the scarcities but for the simplicity of everyday life.
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Unconventional Christmas tree made of tubes and lights design and crafted by my super smart and creative friend Florin 🙂 I’m getting one for next year!

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Acuarela’s focus point: the romantic table setting on the ceiling – an art installation designed by Andrei Argaetic.

The final stop – Bucharest Christmas market. With flavours of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and pies this year’s market was probably the best we’ve had so far. Beautiful handcrafted products from all over the country, young artists showing their works, live concerts and many many Christmas lights!

And the good news: it’s still open until December 27th!

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