From her studio in Barcelona, Lucirmas creates beautiful upcycled design lamps. Lucia Bruni is an Italian designer that has been living in the city for over 10 years. She is the heart of Lucirmas. Her raw material is exclusively reused glass bottles. The process behind her work involves many people. From the restaurants and bars that help her source the bottles to other artisans that make different parts for her. Even design studios that collaborate in making an idea feasible.
Today we want to bring you into the life and work of Lucia Bruni. She received us in her studio in Barcelona, where we were able to talk to her about the challenges and rewards of making such unique upcycled lamps. We hope you like it.
Hi Lucia! Thank you for receiving us in your studio. And welcome to Offcyclers!
Hi Diego, you’re welcome. And thanks for having me too. It’s unbelievable but Offcyclers is the first online platform selling my lamps that has actually made the effort to come and see my studio personally.
Well, we’re really happy to hear that, thanks for letting us know. We try to have a different approach to the work we do, and we have great respect for the work you do.
Lucia, could you tell us a bit about your story? How does somebody end up making Upcycled Glass Lamps using old glass bottles?
Well, the truth is that it all started when I came to Barcelona. I’m Italian and came to Barcelona 10 years ago. I studied a Master’s program and my thesis project was to create a line of products that were done by reusing a bottle. For that project, I committed to a certain type of rules. It always had to be the same bottle, it had to be transparent. I wanted to look into the life of a product that we throw away despite it being completely fit for use. I wanted to find another use for it. I think the current model is a waste. We only throw it away because of this imperfect system that ends its life prematurely.
So I began working with glass, and I really liked it as a material. You can recycle it an infinite amount of times, and it won’t lose its properties. This is completely different to plastic or other materials, that lose their properties with every cycle. I didn’t want to recycle the material as such but instead to work with the object through its shape. And through the shape, create new objects that were ‘trapped’ inside a glass bottle. And thus the glass bottle became my raw material.
So after that project, I came up with a couple designs, and fast forward to what it is now.
How do you define your work, what you do?
Well, now there is a word that defines it very well, which is Upcycling. Because what I’m doing is not recycling. What I’m doing is taking an object and giving it another use. But what I always try is that the final result is functional. The mission is not recycling just to have something else but to have something useful. For me, Good Design is when an object is not only pretty but most importantly, functional.
I’m interested in making upcycled glass lamps that create a relationship with the people that fall in love with them and that will take care of it in their homes. It’s like if I take care of the lamps during the constructive process, and they will take care of it in their homes. Sort of like those objects that are passed down generation after generation. It’s an object that you recognize it has a special charm to itself, not like any other object.
I feel like nowadays we’re really used to throwing away products. It’s gone past the disposable plastic utensils and has now extended to almost everything. If I don’t like it, I throw it away. I won’t even bother fixing it.
How has your experience been up to now when people see your upcycled glass lamps?
Most of the people are incredibly surprised of seeing an object that nobody thought could be made from a glass bottle. And most of the people are really intrigued by the story behind the objects. People love to know how you do it, what tools you have and where you get them from. It’s funny when people hear that we have a polisher that has diamond dust on it, they’re all ‘ooh diamond’ like it’s something really fancy, it’s really funny.
When people learn about what I do, which I believe is very similar to any artisanal work, they just pour their soul into it. They start giving you ideas, and possibilities and get all excited about what you’re doing. It’s great because it impulses a new way of thinking, it’s a creative stimulus.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the daily. It’s the everyday things. Both with the constructive process as with the final piece. I’m sure my pieces are related to who I am, but at the same time it’s a representation of a minimalist way of life that looks for the more essential things. But in general, nature and the simple things in life are what inspires me.
What does the constructive process of your upcycled glass lamps look like?
Well, the first part is similar with all of the objects I make. It’s going to the restaurants and bars that keep the bottles for me, mostly we pick them up from places near our workshop.
We then bring them to our workshop, we divide them by color or shape. We clean them, take the stickers off with the least polluting way, only using water without soap.
After that we go to the cutting saw, and then we polish it. It all really depends on each piece. Also, depending on the piece we might put it in the oven, and then we finish each piece little by little.
We also package here in the workshop. Our packaging is also sustainable, with reduced sizes, we prepare it, get it ready for shipping and done! Ready to be in a loving home!
What are the challenges you face when creating your upcycled glass lamps?
The biggest challenge when making these upcycled glass lamps is coordinating everything. There are a lot of parts and a lot of people involved. So it’s sometimes hard to make it work properly.
Another challenge is that we’re using a material that was not meant for this purpose. In making our upcycled glass lamps we are forcing the glass a bit, stretching it’s possibilities, so we do face some technical problems sometimes.
But something which I don’t know if it’s a challenge or not is that this is an artisanal product. So it’s a bit difficult when I receive big orders because we don’t have that type of philosophy. It’s hard to have people understand that we’re working with what we find and that normally means that there are always limits to what we can or cannot do.
Nonetheless, I’m normally very positive and I rarely see the negative, but yeah, I would say it’s also hard to combine being a mother, having a business that is trying to do things right, etc. There are a lot of things to juggle at the same time, but that is completely out of the work of upcycling a lamp.
On the hands of who would you like to see your upcycled glass lamps?
I really have no stereotype of people. I’m happy when I’m able to create a relationship with anybody who really likes my work. Whether it’s an architect or a bartender, it really makes no difference at all for me. It’s all about human relationships and them loving what I do.
Why is being a part of Offcyclers important for you?
I like being in Offcyclers because I feel that I’m part of a group of people that have similar concerns. People that I like discovering myself too. But overall I am very happy to know that I am part of a platform that want to elevate the characteristics of ‘the handmade,’ which for me really means ‘well-made.’ It’s all about trying to reach perfection through sustainability, and I think Offcyclers embodies that perfectly.