Dragoș Motică is a Romanian product designer who founded in 2014, alongside Robert Savu, the design studio Ubikubi. It evolved fast and organically and it received awards for the \ lamp in the same time expanding at an international level in countries such as UK or Denmark. We talked with Dragoș to find out more about Ubikubi and his story.
keywords: utility, design, technique, studio
A pleasant memory from childhood… when I almost drowned in a swamp because I was curious.
Baia Mare… a city which, in my mind, is pretty much the same as the ones in the American films about childhood.
The first thing I do in the morning… take my anti-allergics.
At university, it’s good to… have a passion for what you study.
Sunset in Bucharest… nice and pretty in the spring when it’s chilly.
I disconnect… by doing sport or riding my motorcycle.
Imagination… is a quality you should explore efficiently if you have much of it.
You can eat really well… eggplant with garlic.
A necessary change in Romania… the politicians.
3 new artists that I discovered in 2016… Olafur Eliasson, Ghica Popa, Saddo.
Vlad Dumitrescu: Hello Dragoș! We’re happy to have the chance to talk to you for the feeder insider series. Ubikubi, you and Robert Savu’s project, which started in 2014, evolved fast and organically. How was Ubikubi born and what are your objectives with this concept?
Dragoș Motică: I and Robert knew each other for some time. We collaborated on some landscaping projects. I wanted more to do product design and Robert wanted to build something in the furniture business, but the idea really took off with the success of the “/” lamp.
We (or me, at least) want Ubikubi to become a home&decor brand in the true sense of the word. To become an important brand with recognition all over the world and to be validated and considered a brand by itself by Romanians and foreigners. We want to encourage design creation and Romanian designers, to trust ourselves and be proud because we can too, Romanians, mean something in this domain.
VD: Ubikubi now has an international presence too and we can find your products in Denmark and in the UK at the well-known Nando’s restaurant, in Doncaster. Surely you want to go to other countries as well, what are steps that you must take to achieve this?
DM: The fairs. We must and we are doing something about this so that we can go to specific fairs. The world must know of us. People must interact physically with our products and thus we can make them trust as to do great things.
VD: You attended the Architecture and Arts and Design faculties. As a product designer, how did the architecture part help you?
DM: It was in reverse actually. First came Design and Art and then Architecture. Architecture taught me to think more organized and structured.
VD: Your products want to give relevant and correct responses to some daily needs. What do you look for when you want to make a product that will make people’s lives easier?
DM: I think my products are more in an emotional zone than a practical one, although, they don’t ignore the practical side. It’s just that most of them have a story which takes them to an emotional zone more than to a functional necessity.
VD: Utility is an essential element in your products and in the design of Flying Saucers we find your mother’s concern of not ruining the table because of the hot plates. What stories does the new collection of furniture, lamps and accessories for the house that you launched at Romanian Design Week tell us?
DM: Utility is very important to me, but just what I said above, and also in the case of the Flying Saucers, I tried to solve a problem, although the final project has more powerful emotional valences than practical.
Regarding the new collection, I’m pleased with the result bearing in mind that I worked with five designers this year. VULCANO by Anca Fetcu is a candle support which plays with the idea of melted matter which trickles. This is the visual of a volcano that erupts and the lava comes out. The ovenware made of FILIP wood by Ruxandra Sacalis have a traditional and romantic air around them. They have a preciousness given the leather buttonhole. They can also be used backward for cutting things on them or to put fruit on them. The JOHN CRUSHER grinders by Alex Ioniță impress with their shape that inspires another utility – of a flashlight. Using ceramics and wood brings them something special. The candle support KNURLY from 201 Design Studio shows versatility. It can be used for one, two or three candles. The 11+1 houses of Eliza Tokina are an educative game made from different essences which can be used as a decorative toy to put on the desk.
The N lamp, which I made, plays with the equilibrium, with the graphic simplicity, with the association of materials such as marble and metal. It redefines the perception of the on/off switch, which in the N lamp’s case becomes an integrated element in the design of the lamp. The Take a Bow lamp, intrigues the eye. Inspired by the shape of a bent pipe, the lamp wants to give the impression of an object made of something smooth but, actually, the body is made out of ceramics, so a hard material. The water decanter PENGUIN tries to resolve, through minimal interventions on the shape, the ergonomics of the gesture of putting water in a glass. Finally, the shape is like a penguin so we decided to name it this way although the name and the idea have nothing in common.
VD: At Ubikubi you want to make the products more accessible, simple and sustainable. What techniques do you use to get those results?
DM: I don’t think of them as techniques but as a faith of mine, a personal thing that I try to keep in all of the products and that is honesty towards what we do. I think our objects are simple and sincere because of the technical boundaries that we have which we try to use to our advantage. And if we don’t hide these limitations, exposing them, the public sees us as simple and sincere. Nothing too fancy.
VD: In 2008 you founded Dragoș Motică studio where your projects extend to domains such as architecture, interior design. What objectives do you have in mind with the studio?
DM: The description on my website is a little exaggerated. It’s true that I’ve done some landscaping and some architecture, but as you see, on the site there are only product design works. It’s true that I would like that description to become a reality. I would like Dragoș Motică Studio to be different from Ubikubi and to activate as a studio on its own and to serve external clients in all those domains from the description on the site. But I wouldn’t mind if I remained with Ubikubi as an independent artist. All in all, if I do what I like at Ubikubi, the satisfaction would be the same. Ubikubi remains the most important “client” of the Studio.
VD: For the Slash Lamp which was awarded the A’ Design Award Metal, you offered a nice and interactive concept. Practically, you invited the owners of the lamps to make some partial destructions to the lamp screen and thus generating new forms and possibilities. Do you have in plan other participative projects in which the finishing will be done by each person?
DM: Yes, I think the interaction with the object is very important. I want all the objects to have this dimension. You can’t do it always with all the objects. Maybe that’s why the lamp was such a success.
VD: The Romanian design scene has progressed in the past few years and in Bucharest there is also a store dedicated to local products, Dizainăr. How do you think Romania comes across as a professional medium for a young designer? What advice do you have for those at the start of their career?
DM: I’m a little more reserved when it comes to defining the movement of the Romanian design as a progress. I would define them as some nuclei in an experimental form. Nothing too serious. This doesn’t mean we’re not on the right track. Everybody started somewhere and we should do the same.
At a professional level, I would say it’s a disaster. The school is a disaster. I feel there hasn’t been any progress from my time. The graduates, most of them, are unprepared. And this has an explanation, for the lack of human resources in the Romanian universities. In conclusion, if I was a young graduate I would see two options. The first one would be to leave the country and work as interns one or two years to learn what they missed in Romania and then they can compete with foreigners for the same position. Otherwise, I don’t think they could. They just don’t have the necessary knowledge. The second option would be to start experimenting here, in the country. To try and adapt their creative discourse to the context. They should work even for free and make them understand the necessity and importance of the designer for the development of the company. They should stop dreaming and try all sorts of things in the domain of product design. And then we can talk about some more serious stuff in 10-15.
VD: Feeder.ro is the news agency of the alternative nation for 12 years and represents a bridge between artists and their public. How do you see the influence of online towards the design in Romania?
DM: Definitely, now that we have access to online, all the information is close to you. This is something extraordinary. We don’t live in our own world anymore. The online has made people interact more, has made collaborations more often. You can find out what others are working on, in any corner of the world. I think that this access to online has been beneficial in every domain, even more in the creative field. In the case of the Romanian design, the online is vital. As a creative director at Ubikubi, I try to be permanently in touch with everything that contemporary designers do. I’m very interested because that’s how I select the designers for Ubikubi and start new collaborations. I follow them online and afterward I contact those whom I consider being on the same page with our brand and I try to convince them to work with us.