- Diana Condrea
Romania’s current design scene is vibrant and fresh, and quickly becoming a reference point for Eastern European creativity. From exclusive fashion brands inspired by the country’s folklore and tradition, to award-winning product design and hand-made jewelry, these ten contemporary Romanian designers are showcasing talent and an eagerness to innovate and experiment.
Maria Lucia Hohan
Young and talented, Maria Lucia Hohan is no doubt the most successful Romanian fashion designer right now. Her creations, worn by Romanian and international celebrities, are sold in dozens of partner stores all over the world, from Bucharest to Oslo, Kuwait, New York and Tokyo, as well as in the iconic Parisian store L’Eclaireur. Maria Lucia Hohan’s creations are defined by her unmistakable feminine style, guided by the aim of making women “self-confident, intriguing, playful, feminine, to become urban divas no matter the context they find themselves in.”
Adrian Oianu is best described as one of the most complex Romanian fashion designers. His surprising reinterpretation of traditional elements of Romanian design features in all his collections from the past eight years. Deeply connected to the cultural heritage of his native country, Adrian Oianu built a fashion brand based on “authenticity and sustainability.” He assures that “We love our tradition! We respect our ancestor’s work, we value and we recirculate it through our work, giving people contemporary design mixed with history.” Furthermore, Adrian Oianu is unafraid to mix contemporary art with fashion design, as demonstrated by ambitious projects like Fashion Film (Contemporary Moods 2006 – Tactile Project 2011) or The Virtual Print (2007).
A photo posted by Adrian Oianu (@adrianoianu) on
An Architecture graduate and a practicing interior and textile designer, Irina Neacsu “brings old stories into new words” through the vivid and interactive creations of her Bucharest-based brand, thecraftLAB. Her furniture restoration work is very much focused on visualizing the story and personality of the product’s owners, all reinterpreted in a fusion of colours, styles and emotions that go beyond the simple utilitarian purpose of the product. ThecraftLAB is present at major design events throughout the world from Milan and Cologne to New York or Florence where, in 2013, the designer presented her Life of a Dream project, which used restored, old chairs to tell the story of “childhood dreams and how they often get abandoned, left behind in a dusty corner just like the past, tradition and identity.”
The creations of Valentina Vidrascu are rooted in the spirit and symbols of Romanian traditions, represented in fashion through the irresistible la blouse roumaine, the Romanian shirt, a central piece of native folklore that has, in the past, inspired painters like Henri Matisse or top designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier. Since her first collection in 1999, Valentina Vidrasu has found her inspiration in this special and representative piece of clothing “created and perfected for centuries on end by the artistic sense of the Romanian peasant woman.” Her design philosophy is led by the shirt’s historic significance and omnipresence, as this piece of clothing was once present in every Romanian woman’s wardrobe. Vidrasu’s focus attempts to kindle a connection between age-old tradition and the contemporary fashion landscape.
Having a sculptor create jewellery can only lead to an authentic and memorable artistic product, in this case unique wooden jewellery designed by contemporary artist Doru Dumitrescu. In constant search of complete fulfillment as a creator, Doru Dumitrescu adapts and integrates sculpture into each jewellery piece he designs, thereby crafting small art objects that transgress a basic aesthetic function. Using wood as the main material for his long-lasting, warm and personal objets d’art, he also complements them with the most diverse materials, including simple river stones. For Doru Dumitrescu “jewellery is a pretext for creating a form of art which makes interaction possible, the simple viewer becoming a wearer.”
Bogdan Moga is a young Romanian artist aiming to “create experiences that are consistent, emotionally involving, and efficient.” In 2013, he won the prestigious Silver A’ Design Award for Lighting Products with his innovative Beacon lamp. He describes his award-winning design economical lamp as “creating a sunny Sunday afternoon experience for every read. If unpainted, it facilitates the building of a personal relationship, as the surface oxidises in time, it darkens in colour and gains texture detail and personality with each print or scratch.” A complex and immensely prolific artist, Bogdan Moga experiments with visual arts from photography to illustration and graphic design.
One of the most successful contemporary Romanian product designers, Anca Fetcu brings a refreshing note of simplicity and pragmatism to her creations, which are “addressed to a public which is looking for a story, for people that understand the positive impact of product design in their own lives.” As she learned to work with fiberglass from an early age, Anca Fetcu soon reached a high level of expertise and went on to study art in Romania and the UK, exhibiting her works at international events in Milan, London and Brussels, among others. The young artist established her own brand, called By Anca Fetcu, in 2010, and has since enjoyed a complete artistic freedom in her work.
Carla Szabo is one of the best-established Romanian jewellery designers and a favourite of local fashion designers, with whom she often collaborates through personalised collections. An artist by training, Carla Szabo began creating jewellery in 2004 guided by her belief that “as long as we create an object with our hearts, it will keep this positive energy in its essence and flow to those who use it.” An avid promoter of all things natural, she is well-known for her love of the elements, which inspired two of her most popular collections, Botanica and Bugs. As an artist, she is also fascinated by urban culture and historic design, which gave rise to further, exciting projects.
Since her 2003 debut, Mihaela Glavan has quickly become one of the most important Romanian shoe designers, and finds herself at the helm of the high-class signature brand, Mihaela Glavan, and her second line, Sepala. Both brands are designed with today’s successful women in mind, and are sold in shops from all over the world, from Hong Kong to Japan. Colorful, contemporary and refined, Glavan’s creations are hand-made from the finest materials and have been featured during Romania’s fashion events, but also abroad, during fashion weeks in Montreal, Vienna and Berlin, among others.
Conscious of the fact that ‘the beauty of a dress lies in the happiness it brings to one who wears it’, Andreea Constantin, a former model and stylist, created the brand Rhea Costa in 2009 to express through her creations the diverse styles, needs and desires of contemporary women. Mixing patterns, fabrics and colours, the young designer creates her pieces with the aim of equipping the modern woman with a sense of “elegance and versatility,” allowing her “to be the main character of her own special story.” In 2009 to express through her creations the diverse styles, needs and desires of contemporary women. Mixing patterns, fabrics and colours, the young designer creates her pieces with the aim of equipping the modern woman with a sense of “elegance and versatility,” allowing her “to be the main character of her own special story.”
By Diana Condrea