No speakers. No fee. No selling yourself to anyone. There are some illustrations on display, and a couple of designers and design aficionados having some beers, but creatives come here to connect. This, is the Bucharest Design Meetup.
The question that comes to mind alongside this gathering is: who came up with this idea, and why? Let’s meet Radu Vucea, a visual designer who wanted designers to meet up and well, just chill.
Who is Radu, as a designer? What would you like people to know about you?
I got to be a designer by accident, it wasn’t something thoroughly planned or discovered as a talent in my childhood. As a child I would spend hours and hours in front of the computer, waiting for games to load off cassettes or wasting days typing in a game code from a magazine, only for it to fail. I learned my first programming language over a summer break when I was 10, painstakingly reading the help section page by page.
When I started high school I was fixing computers for extra cash. I was installing and configuring software packages on people’s computers, such as the Microsoft suite, which back then included a software called Frontpage. So I got to play with that, started making some basic web pages but I wasn’t one hundred percent happy with it, so I wanted to look into how I could make a button or a form look better. That’s where I think I began sliding on the slippery slope towards a design career.
In my senior year of high school I got my first part-time job as a web designer, spent about six months there and then returned to be a full-time freelancer, and that’s how the next five years went by. I was initially interested in a bachelor's degree at a tech university, then changed my mind and went for the arts. I changed my mind once again and went for architecture for 1 year, then dropped out. I never found my place in the traditional educational system as my curiosity and drive made me study better by myself.
I think what helped a lot in the end was that I accidentally found something I loved doing, spending hours and days trying to figure out how to design something never felt as real work, but rather something I was meant to be doing.
Steve Jobs used to say design is not only about how a product looks and feels, but also about what makes it work. What is design for you?
There’s certainly no unique definition to design as each designer sees his/hers work differently. For me design is about fixing problems and helping people in a way that’s actually enjoyable for them. I also use Dieter Rams’s quote, 'Good design is as little design as possible' as a mantra.
What about the design community in Bucharest?
It’s certainly in its infancy and there’s a lot of room to grow. The past years have seen an increase in events and initiatives around design, and I think that’s very beneficial for creating awareness and bringing the community together. The next step would be a stronger presence in University programs as currently design programs are scarce. I think as a community we can help high school graduates be aware on how they can pursue a career in design. I don’t think it’s very clear for them right now.
Why “Bucharest Design Meetup”? What do you think will be the mark of this event on the community and designers here?
Bucharest Design Meetup was born from an evening of melancholy where I was remembering the first beer meetups happening ten years ago when I was barely getting started in my career. I met some awesome people there who helped me a lot, and then I realised these things haven’t happened in a while, so I took charge. We do have design events in Bucharest and Romania, but none exclusively for networking.
In time I hope this event will bring people what those old meetups brought me, guidance, energy and inspiration to pursue this, and friends. A good chunk of our attendees are people looking for a career shift or students looking to learn and find out more about a career in design. I also hope this event will boost our visibility as a design community to the outside world.
What ingredients do you need for a good design, and what quantities?
I would say lots of passion and an annoying sense of curiosity, 100% of both.
How much do you believe that 'a city is made by its people'?
There’s no doubt a city is made by people. The rest you are seeing is just things we build to support these people, but take away buildings, cars, and roads and you still have a city. Even though I’ve lived in Bucharest for 30 years, I do hold dear some other cities, and that’s because of the people there.
Words by Adriana Spulber
Photography courtesy of Alex Afrim
Want to hear more stories of Bucharest and other dynamic cities in our network? Don't miss out on Issue 2, a perfect addition to your reading collection! https://store.acitymadebypeople.com