Romanian Design Week

In a city that can often appear to be populated entirely by expired troglodytes, the kind of people who are about to elect a reactionary retrograde as their new mayor, our visit yesterday to Romanian Design Week came as a welcome confirmation of the fact that far from going backwards Bucharest – and Romania with it – continues to move forwards.

How utterly refreshing and uplifting. A different kind of Romania is possible: a Romania built on heaps of talent (and no, we are not referring to the second-rate singers and comedians currently filling Pro TV’s Friday night schedules).

Instead, we are talking here about real talent. Romanian Design Week brings together the fields of graphic design, branding and advertising, architecture, urban planning, interiors, fashion, product and lifestyle design. Ultimately, it is about reclaiming the label Made in Romania as a brand of progress and excellence.

Even the venue itself is a superb piece of design: Piata Amzei.

piata amzei

Not so long ago Amzei was a ghastly place, a typically chaotic Bucharest produce market known for its phenomenally high prices. It lacked the charm and outright menace of Piata Obor and was little more than a legalised fruit and vegetable racket. Today it is a modern space ideal for an event such as this, although it is criminally underused. Indeed, one of the reasons it was selected as the venue for Romanian Design Week was to show off the building itself as much as the creations on display.

Here are some of our highlights from the work of the more than 150 designers on display:

Is this not the perfect Bucharest brand?
Is this not the perfect Bucharest brand?

We also liked rather these funky boxes created by Loot Studio for a British start-up, Lucky Cup Tea:

Luck Cup Tea. Founded by some right chancer no doubt
Luck Cup Tea. Founded by some right chancer no doubt
One of our faves: slim wallets made from recycled material. They are on sale at the event, 58 lei each
One of our faves: slim wallets made from recycled material. They are on sale at the event, 58 lei each. More from Upside Down here.

Best of all though was Fangai by Martin Balint. It’s an interactive light and sound installation which sets out to recreate the noise made by mushroom spores (or at least as Balint imagines that noise). All sound is created by the movement of visitors in the rooms. It’s utterly bonkers but quite wonderful.

If your idea of Romania is haystacks, peasants doing back-breaking work, outside toilets and women selling turnips on street corners, Romanian Design Week is not for you.

If, instead, you are looking for evidence that a different kind of Romania is possible: an open-minded, avant-garde, modern and progressive Romania free from prejudice which looks to the future, not the past, then go take a look at what’s on display. Your horizons will be well and truly broadened.

Romanian Design Week runs until June 5th at Piata Amzei, and a number of other satellite venues around Bucharest. The main exhibition is open from 12-22. Entrance is free.

PS We have one gripe. At the entrance to the event cigarette girls were plying their cancer sticks to all and sundry. We were with our nine-year-old and still we were approached about taking part in a fag-company sponsored competition (to win a sofa, of all things).

We understand Romanian Design Week needs sponsors to pay the rent. Hopefully this year’s success will allow them to tell the tobacco trade to well and truly fuck off come 2017.


49 thoughts on “Romanian Design Week

  1. Did anybody issue a bon fiscal or factura for what they sold?

    As of January the 1st, 2018 – all bon fiscal and all factura will only be issued through a server ran by ANAF. Anything else outside of that server will be considered tax evasion, punishable from 2 to 8 years in prison.


    1. They killed him. He knew too much.

      It’s just one in a long series of murders made to look like suicides or accidents: Mihail Erbasu, Florian Anghelescu, Dumitru Tinu, Codrut Marta etc…


      1. Who is they?! Romanian Police do not do speed control outside of villages. Most asinine Romanians easily do 150 km/h all of the time between the trees painted white.


      2. ‘They’ is the secret services who control everything that moves in Romania. Hexi Pharma was their business, one of them.

        There are 5 times more agents of the secret services nowadays than the entire Securitate before 1989.

        And their budget provided by the State is not enough. They set up bogus companies which deal in all kinds of stuff: from corruption to breaking embargos. Just like the former Securitate, only at a much bigger level.

        All money is laundered and then re-used to serve their purpose of achieving even more power.

        Condrea was just a pawn. The power brokers of Hexi Pharma lie in the shadows, deep within the SRI. And when they felt threatened, they took out the pawn.

        That’s why they didn’t arrest him earlier. He was supposed to be arrested weeks ago. The SRI intervened and told the prosecutors to leave him free so they can take him out.

        When a similar (although much smaller) scandal errupted, Cristian Sima (another pawn) took off to Iceland before they could act. And then to Switzerland where they don’t have power, and where he is today too.

        He was laundering money for them, tens of millions of $ and he made a mistake. And he took off because he was afraid for his life.


      3. My scenario is that he attended a meeting with his bosses from the shadows and they put something into his food which soon provoked him a heart attack, as there were no signs of breaking on the road.

        He was supposed to be interrogated by the prosecutors on Monday and people would have become suspicious if the prosecutors didn’t arrest him.

        But if they did arrest him, he could have talked and created an earthquake in the secret services because he was literally facing life in prison, he had nothing to lose anymore.

        I think he relied on his bosses to protect him, which they would have done had the scandal not become so big. However, if there ever was a cover-up attempt, it didn’t work and the scandal erupted even at international level.

        So they literally had to take him out.


      4. I believe you. CIA and Mossad have got a heart attack gun. Shoots some sort of microwave signal from a distance straight into your ticker…and goodbye!


      5. The SRI is a continuation of Ceausescu’s Securitate, correct? The Securitate was never dismantled in 1990, right?

        A similar thing happened to American journalist Michael Hastings in 2013:


      6. It’s more than that, it’s a mutation of the former Securitate. Like giant bugs and deers with 3 heads appeared after Chernobyl.


      7. One of our many dodgy “news” tv stations should hire you. You’re very good at making up these… theories. Not to mention that your political leanings probably go well with plenty of agendas that desire to keep Romanians in an intellectual dark age.


  2. Bucharest has always been like this for people who had the will to look for it. It’s good to see it coming out into the open. The tea looks awesome…


  3. “In a city that can often appear to be populated entirely by expired troglodytes”.. thank you!
    ” the kind of people who are about to elect a reactionary retrograde as their new mayor” – nah, Predoiu doesn’t stand a chance. It seems leftist Firea (supported by the working class Teleorman-Voluntari crowd, as a certain right wing journalist described it) would easily win.
    You should also try some Mărțișor/Valentine’s Day/etc fairs. Also the music field is quite dynamic, see the Salam-L’Argelino collaboration.


      1. Has Bogdan taken the trouble to knock on your door and ask you if he can count on your vote?


      1. Bucharest was much better in the 2004-2011 period. I enjoyed it much more then. Having all of Lipscani to myself. . . I’d often be the only person drinking a beer at the Amsterdam and the only person walking back home at night through Lipscani.


  4. Ref: “progressive Romania”…

    3 million signatures in favor of forbidding homosexual marriage in Romania were brought yesterday by truck at the Parliament.

    The Constitution will soon be revised in order to ban homosexual marriage forever in this country.

    (I didn’t sign the initiative because I forgot…)


      1. 3 million. Look

        80.000 volunteers worked to raise the signatures.

        There could have been 6 million if they insisted because I personally was never approached to sign the petition, for example. And I represent quite a segment of urban society.

        Romania is not far off from Iran as far as living standards are concerned… the difference is that our potential was already wasted: we have no money, no youth, no freedom, no resources, no nothing.

        While Iran has everything. I’d go live in Iran if they would allow me…



        This about says it all: Iran’s debt is less than 5% of GDP, while Romania’s debt is 70% of GDP.

        And while their GDP/capita is equal to ours, in terms of purchasing power – their purchasing power is 3 times bigger than ours. Because the economy is in national hands, not in foreign hands.

        I say ‘Bravo, priests!!’


  5. Ref: “progressive Romania”…

    Even though the Romanian Orthodox Church is currently suffering because of mishandling of media, belief in God remains well above 85% throughout the country.

    Homosexuals were also included in the study, together with other mentally ill and / or vice-addicted persons…

    Luckily that’s about as far as it gets when it comes to Romania being progressive.


    1. Whatever makes you sleep at night, Parmo. In the meantime the number of non-religious, agnostic or atheist Romanians continues to rise. Based on official figures their number, though still small, has tripled since the early 2000s. Our beloved Bucharest leads the charts both in total number of atheists and in terms of percentage of the population.

      Of course the most important and exciting aspect is that trust in the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) continues to plummet. Early this year a poll showed 58% of Romanians trust in the BOR which is a massive drop compared to a similar poll from 2003 which showed 90% trust. I find this particularly pleasing because, while I have nothing in particular against people with beliefs in the supernatural, I absolutely abhor the BOR.


      1. I think the figures are encouraging and we have suffered little damage in almost 27 years of Liberalism. It’s much, much worse in the West and some countries are facing an uphill battle right now.

        But figures are encouraging because Liberalism is over. It has eaten its portion.

        From now own, we’re going back to global Conservatorism. Because this is not just about Romania, it’s about the way politics was handled ever since World War II.

        Sure, we’re facing the remnants of a Liberal school of thought that was built in 70 years and has roots dating back to the 1840s. This school of thought won’t be going away overnight.

        But the tide has turned and from now on, in the next 50 years at least, we will be hearing more about protectionism, about nationalism, about religion, about assimilation etc… than about liberalism, multiculturalism and the likes.

        Have you ever seen ANYTHING in Romania getting 3 million signatures until now? This is the key in which we must decode the meaning of this initiative (which is the first of its kind, but definitely not the last…).


      2. We’ll see if there are indeed 3 million legitimate signatures. Regardless of their number, I find it hilarious that in a country with so many legitimate problems these idiots have decided that the one thing they should stand against is homosexuality.

        Yeah, if it wasn’t for those filthy homosexuals we’d all have big wages and proper roads. I imagine the people responsible for diluting those antiseptics and cleaning products were a bunch of homosexuals too. I mean they’d have to be, since we’re so dead set against the evil homosexuals.

        What’s next? 3 million signatures for banning sexual education? Or maybe we should ban condoms? I don’t doubt it would be possible. There are still plenty of religious loonies, racists and outright idiots in this country.

        P.S. I know you’re probably so used to throwing around the same keywords over and over that you’re probably doing it without even thinking. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if you’d do a bit of research regarding those words and their history. When you talk over and over about liberalism and then you say something like the Liberal school of thought “has roots dating back to the 1840s” you lose credibility. Or you would lose if you had any to begin with, of course. I got a call from the liberal hotline and it turns out that John Locke, Montesquieu, Thomas Paine and Adam Smith would like to disagree with your 1840 date.


      3. Liberalism didn’t become militant and affirm itself at society level until the European revolutions of the mid 19th century. Liberal ideas might have existed in ancient times as well, but they were limited and confined to some thinkers.

        A nation is not only about wages and proper roads, it’s about spirit and values. Not everything is for sale. Sometimes we prefer to keep our dignity and principles instead of doing whatever is requested from us and for whatever reward.

        Then it’s pretty obvious that homosexuals didn’t solve any infrastructure problem anywhere, but they did create other problems like despise for the traditional family, a drop in birth rate and public controversy.

        Homosexuality must remain a shameful thing, similar to vices like gambling, smoking and harloting. A thing that one can do in private if it makes him feel good, without being punished, but not a thing of the mainstream or a thing to be proud of.


  6. “Is this not the perfect Bucharest brand?”

    Anyone know why Bucharest in 2016 still has lots of above ground wires? In other EU capitals the entire city has its wires underground and has for decades.


    1. So they can replace the wires and equipments faster and offer even better internet speed at even lower prices.

      It’s one thing to climb a pole and another thing to break the asphalt, dig holes citywide, then cover them up and lay asphalt again.

      The internet speed in other EU capitals is much lower, while prices are much higher.


    2. The reason for the overhead wires is that Bucharest loves birds. They make good resting spots away from the stray cats. Stop banging on about what they do in other EU countries. If it were left up to you, all countries and cities would all look the boring same. Told you before, if you don’t like Romania…you can always F off!


    1. “There will be no homosexual marriage in this country for at least 2 generations.”………..make it two centuries at least!


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