A few months ago, after a 7-8 year pause, I re-entered a public library. If you are also a book aficionado, you surely know that feeling of bedazzlement you get when surrounded by dozens and dozens of books: that promising smell of paper and coffee, that teaser for how your next few days are gonna look like. It’s just thrilling! So later on, when I first saw MATER, I remembered that exact sensation. Cause this place is just as hypnotizing, as full of inspiration and promises for designers and architects.
It’s not difficult to understand why: MATER is the first material library not only in Romania, but also in South-Eastern Europe. It's a 1,000 square meter space where one can see, touch, and find info regarding 3,000 of material samples – wood, stone, glass, textiles, composite, etc. All in all, MATER brings that bedazzling experience I told you about for architects, interior designers, product, fashion and jewelry designers, illustrators, and plastic artists or even organizations that develop new products and materials and need this resource. The library is in fact the “little sister” of NOD Makerspace, the first Romanian large creative center whose purpose is to offer space and instruments for designers. So, as you can see, Bucharest’s creative community is in full growth.
As MATER’s website states, “The library is a function we need here in Bucharest to develop its materials’ culture both for professionals and amateurs: starting with the education regarding the types of materials and their usage and continuing with the selection of proper materials and the research for new materials and applications." And we surely are of the same opinion, especially after seeing the library’s huge space.
"...this place is just as hypnotizing, as full of inspiration and promises for designers and architects."
The first and certainly the most fascinating division of MATER is the actual library: shelves full of materials grouped by their “main ingredient,” which you can touch and be inspired of. The visitors can also gather info with the help of MATER librarians, specialists that can advise the creatives. The second part is a multifunctional room that can fit 120 persons willing to attend workshops, conferences, and seminars. The third room – the getting-into-action one – is the coworking space, ready for individual or group projects.
And as for groups, MATER is actually on the roll now thanks to one of the biggest crowdfunding campaigns in Romania, although this type of initiative isn’t very popular here yet. More than 200 supporters contributed to the cause and the sum exceeded the initial objective of the project. Therefore, the library is now able to serve as a gratuitous resource for pupils and students who can approach its info for free. All the other visitors can use the MATER pass, which offers permanent library access, coworking space access and online database surfing for the materials’ technical details. Everything costs EUR 120 and is valid for 12 months.
Oh, and another A+ for MATER: it is part of a revitalization wave that has recently conquered the ex-workers’ neighbourhood of Timpuri Noi in Bucharest, where more and more creative organizations and independent hubs have set their headquarters. Thus, old communist factories are granted a new shine and new spaces are being put together outside of the overcrowded city center. For instance, you can find MATER in the former factory Industria Bumbacului (The Industry of Cotton) on Splaiul Unirii 160. You should definitely check the place out when in Bucharest.
Words by Diana Bogdan
Pictures by Diana Bogdan, Ana Georgescu, and Cristian Vasile.
Let's have a warm welcome to our newest correspondent in Bucharest, Diana! If you enjoyed her first piece on Bucharest's Mater Library, check out the city's chapter on Issue 2 of our print journal!