#32 - IMM Special

Romanian Design in the Spotlight

Courtesy of Ubikubi

Simple and sustainable products that are also priced to be accessible—that’s the aim of Romanian firm Ubikubi, which presented at interior furniture fair IMM Cologne for the first time this year. Founded in 2014, Ubikubi is a meeting of the minds between designer and architect Dragos Motica and entrepreneur Robert Savu, who paired up after a series of successful collaborations. Scoffing at fads and trends, the duo instead looks locally for materials and inspiration, with a focus on useful objects that come with an intriguing backstory. Motica works with a team of designers including 201 Design Studio, Ruxi Sacalis, Eliza Yokina, Anca Fetcu and Alexandru Ioniță.

Ubikubi offers some 50 accessories, each distinctive and eye-catching. Cheekily resembling mushrooms, Motica’s custom-cast porcelain Albe collection is inspired by the edible mushrooms found in various sizes and shapes in the Romanian forests. The kitchen containers have cork tops, while a cruet stand with vessels for oil, vinegar, salt and pepper perches on a beech tray. Motica’s Penguin is an atypically square-shaped ceramic carafe made of ceramic with a cork lid. Instead of a handle, it has convex curves for a minimalistic grip. The powder-coated aluminum Knurly candleholder, designed by 201 Design Studio, is an unexpected hexagon shape—but it also can become three independent candleholders by simply separating the two conical shapes, fitting candles. The remaining cylinder is a snug home for a tea light.

Furnishings, all designed by Motica, are lean and minimalistic pieces crafted from wood with select splashes of bold color. The Atelier collection—with a chair, two bar stools and a desk— channels the painting easel for sturdy frames. The highly versatile ash, oak or veneer Atelier chair comes with a seat backrest pillow—a blanket rolled and secured by two leather straps—and can be customized by color, upholstery and frame. The Atelier Bar Stool 75, in oak or ash, chases aches away from the lower back with a curvy seat and backrest frame intended to actively support. It’s ideal for a counter, bar or high table. Just a bit shorter (100 millimeters to be exact), but with the same structure and finishes, the Atelier Bar Stool 65 is intended to pull up to a kitchen countertop. Perfectly at home in an artist’s studio, ergonomics and simplicity shine with the Atelier desk, in oak or ash. The solid frame, with flat-pack wingnut assembly, has a detachable drawer that can be switched from left to right.

A lamp you can smash? That’s the idea behind Motica’s concrete, wire, and rope “/” lamp (Slash lamp), one of four lights in Ubikubi’s lighting collection. It comes with a stone for the user to experiment with larger or smaller bits and holes for a unique diffusion of light. With the strong character and charm of a lamp in an industrial facility or on a construction site, and available in five colors, it drops from a textile cord with an adjustable length. Floor lamp Light Tale, designed by 201 Design Studio, has a conical shade perching on three slim legs in oak or ash—once again a nod to the painting easel.

Floor lamp Light Tale designed by 201 Design Studio

Floor lamp Light Tale designed by 201 Design Studio

The Corian or marble and powder-coated metal N desk lamp by Motica takes its simple functional design from traditional Romanian water pumps. A tribute to the inventor of the light bulb, Motica’s faience and cork Take a Bow Lamp bends in a humble nod to this revolutionary technological innovation.

About the Author

Mairi Beautyman is a journalist based out of Berlin. She's been
writing about design and architecture since 2001.

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