After our first interview with Daniel Lakos from Logideez, we now travel to Romania to introduce you to Ubikubi, the creators of the ingenious ALBE Kitchen Containers.
Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers!
Ubikubi is a Romanian design brand founded in 2014 by Robert Savu, entrepreneur and Production Director, and Dragoș Motica, architect and Creative Director. We now have over 80 products in our collection, ranging from kitchen and office accessories to various furniture and lighting pieces. Everything is designed by some of the best Romanian designers and architects, and proudly produced in Romania, mostly with local materials.
How did Ubikubi come to life?
Ubikubi came to life in a quite spontaneous way, with Slash Lamp, designed by Dragoș Motica and awarded with A’ Design Award Gold in 2015. The lamp became viral in a very short time and received a lot of attention and encouragement from the public and specialized press alike, on an international level.
This was just one example of where Romanian design can get and a proof of the local potential. We decided to take everything good around ourselves – natural resources, the long history of manufacturing expertise in our country, the fresh vision and the talent of Romanian designers on the rise – and put it in a collection of home decor objects that are necessary in our everyday life, have a story to tell and are accessible to the general public.
We playfully called this mission “Ubikubi”, from ubiquitous, because we wanted to be everywhere, in any home from any country.
What is the creative process behind your products? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Our creative processes start from recognizing certain needs, observing small gestures in our interaction with the objects around us, discovering new ways of working with certain materials in the workshop… There are many different things that inspire us in everything we do.
For instance, You’ve Got Flowers! Vases, designed by Ruxi Sacaliș, reinvents the traditional mailbox and aims to challenge the way people communicate their messages and feelings in the modern world. Moreover, the name of the object is inspired by a very evocative movie on the same theme, You’ve Got Mail (1998). We can say that the vase is a result of an interdisciplinary dialogue.
In the case of Cereall Hook, designed by MBSP Studio, the inspiration for this object started from a fascination for terrazzo. For 11+1 houses, designed by Eliza Yokina and made from wood leftovers from furniture workshops, the creative process started from a desire to use materials wisely, to focus on sustainable production techniques.
What materials do you use for your different product lines and where do you source them?
We only work with natural materials, because sustainability care is one of our most important objectives. We use local wood (ash, walnut, beech), ceramic, marble, glass and wool. We manufacture everything in Romania and try to collaborate and encourage as much as we can local suppliers and producers, so they are always our first choice. But there are a couple of materials we import as well, such as cork, from Portugal, and textile, for furniture upholstery, from Italy.
We are particularly in love with your ALBE collection! Can you tell us the story behind this lovely collection?
We are very happy to say that everyone is in love with ALBE collection, as it is one of our public favorites and best sellers. ALBE, designed by Dragoș Motica, is a set of kitchen recipients inspired by edible mushrooms found on Romanian ground and by the old habit of picking them up near forests, right after the rain. They have a cheerful aesthetic and very funny names, translating some our most ardent quests as modern people: seeking a closer relationship with nature while being captive in the urban environment.
What are the next projects you are working on?
We just launched 1989 water carafe and glasses, so we have to share the good news first! The carafe is inspired by the returnable bottle of milk from the communist period in Romania and it’s made of mouth blown glass in the oldest glass factory in Romania, established in 1801.
Otherwise, we are constantly developing our collection and hope to cover, in time, all kind of objects that are necessary in a contemporary space, be it a cozy home, a modern office or a very stylish coffee shop or restaurant.
How would you describe the design & architecture scene in Romania?
The design & architecture scene in Romania is on the rise, we see everywhere more and more projects we like – from great product design ideas coming from very young designers, to outstanding interior design projects signed by Romanian architects. Still, there’s a lot of work ahead to create more favourable circumstances for these areas of activity.
Are there any challenges you might encounter as a young designer in Romania? How did you overcome them?
There are many challenges to overcome as a young designer in Romania. One of them is that in schools, the focus is on theoretical, rather than practical aspects. And product design is a very hands-on activity, requiring an active participation in the study of materials and production techniques. We strongly believe in the potential of young designers in Romania, and tried to encourage them towards a more practical experience, correlated with actual requirements of the design market, through an annual product design contest, called Ubikubi Young Designers Award, organized together with our partners, UniCredit Bank Romania.
Any other Romanian designers you are particularly fond of and we should definitely check out?
Definitely check everyone in the Product Design section from Romanian Design Week 2018. It’s hard for us to make a pick, we’re proud to be part of a wonderful community that has a lot to offer.
What are the places we shouldn’t miss going to when in Bucharest?
You definitely shouldn’t miss Crocant, an artisanal bakery in the city centre. The food is absolutely amazing and you will spot many Ubikubi objects in there.
Something personal about yourself – what is the first thing you do in the morning?
Look at a minimalist clock made of cork and get carried away by thoughts and ideas.
Thank you for the interview! We are looking forward to your next projects!