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manooi artica color

It’s like a star up in the sky that hypnotizes you with its radiant beauty. The centrepiece of any space, our elliptical ARTICA model chandelier looks best above dining room tables, in living rooms, or in just about any place where it is allowed to define a space. As an element of exquisite interior design composition, it boldly shows off its strong character and can really animate a room – completely changing it by adding a classic elegance. 

Inspired by classic chandeliers in an archaic, old-world shop, MANOOI’s ARTICA reinvents the genre by having no identical cross sections. In fact, the lamp has a dynamic fluctuation to it, which our designers intended. This means that from every angle you look at it, it’s like a statue – exhibiting harmony, but also giving off a welcoming warmth.

ARTICA is so emblematic that MANOOI approached Swarovski to come up with a crystal stone specifically mimicking its shape; today, it’s a company trademark of sorts, as one of these custom-designed crystal pieces is featured on every MANOOI chandelier.

 

manooi artica chandeliers

A star is born

ARTICA not only looks stunning, we also have great affection for us as it was MANOOI’s first lighting creation. Its designer, János Héder, says his objective was a lamp that had some sort of directional dynamic within the space – a front and a back. He also sought out a form that had a deep harmony, where the inner and outer contours shared the same line. With a strong belief that people love pebble-like forms, he was convinced they were onto something.

After coming up with numerous drafts, he showed it to his wife and MANOOI co founder, Judit Zoltai, and she told him which version was best. He says she “nailed it”, and they assembled their first mock-up of ARTICA in the cellar of their home.

Grand introduction

ARTICA made its fabulous debut at a Milan design show in an exhibition booth, which was a partially open space. János Héder recalls the objective was to come up with lighting that would really catch people’s attention and lure them into the booth. He says he didn’t want to install something totally classical, because that’s not what the show was about – but he also didn’t want it to be too modern. Visitors swarmed the booth in Milan – ARTICA proved a smashing success!

With a very serious aura and staying power, ARTICA has been MANOOI’s bestseller ever since. What’s more, the company’s co founders, Judit and János, are still so fond of their luxury chandelier, they even have one hanging in their home.

 

 

Judit Zoltai and Janos Heder Manooi Light Creations 768x512 1

An interview with our founders Judit Zoltai and János Héder.

Hungarian brand Manooi Light Creations stands for two main principles: a passion for light, and a labour of love. Founded by Judit Zoltai and János Héder, the designer couple manage the business together, overseeing a workshop prides itself on creativity, innovation and craftsmanship. Using only raw materials, including Swarovski crystals, its lighting designs are always handmade and true works of art.

Judit Zoltai and Janos Heder Manooi Light Creations 768x512 1

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

 

  1. Manooi Light Creations was founded by János Héder and Judit Zoltai. What inspired you to create the company in Hungary in the first place?

Judit: We both graduated from the Hungarian University of Applied Arts. Since we were children, we have been making lighting objects and lamps on our own, so Manooi is also a similar inspiring game for us as adults, a place where we can use our creativity and create completely new shapes and chandeliers. It’s all about making our environment better to the extent we can by determining the images of our future.

We were both born in Budapest, so Manooi is a European company registered in Hungary, but in terms of its market and partnership it is an international brand and our products can be found almost all over the world, and we present our collections at international exhibitions.

 

  1. What did you do (individually or together) before you started Manooi?

Judit: Since I graduated as a porcelain major, the technology of processing glass, ceramic and porcelain materials attracted me. Before Manooi, I designed and made glass and porcelain lamps for individuals, office buildings, and restaurants.

János worked as an architect and interior designer at Inarchi Architecture Studio, established in 1996, which dealt with the complete image design of retail chains such as Libri, Retro, and Salamander.

In 2005, a crystal chandelier of ours was exhibited at the stand of a company called Mobilia Artica at the EuroShop in Düsseldorf, where it attracted great interest. Thanks to this success, we established Manooi, which is exclusively engaged in the design, manufacture and sale of luminaires. Our very first model was named Artica, a fixture which is still in high demand today.

 

  1. János, as the lead designer at Manooi, where do you find inspiration for each new chandelier or light installation?

János:  When I was young, I wanted to be an astronomer and the infinity of the universe gave me infinite inspiration. I lived for years in Algeria, where the purity of the desert sky is indescribably beautiful. The impact of this duality can still be found in the design of Manooi, inspired by several of our models. To offer a couple of examples: Our Ciel model (sky), depicts the glow of the stars on particularly clear desert nights, while the Wissh chandelier is about making a secret wish upon a star.

I always felt I should do something creative. At the age of 18 I decided to study architecture. But It was too solid for me, too technical, and had nothing to do with creation. I realized this was not what I wanted to do so I went to the Hungarian University of Art and Design where I graduated as an interior designer.

“Creation is our ‘mother tongue’.”

Becoming a designer was not something I was born with, but the result of my observations about the world around me, which led to an evolution in my thinking.  All of our creations are inspired by natural light. We seek to design radically modern, innovative shapes, whose radiance demands that they be focal points in a given space.

 

  1. What is your design process? How does this differ when creating something yourself versus working in collaboration with one of the designers in your studio?

János: Creating on my own is a different journey compared to working in collaboration.  Each Manooi chandelier is the fruit of an intensive creative process by our team of designers, who seek to bring beauty and luminance to the world, providing exclusive illumination to your atmosphere.

Every piece is chosen and manufactured with close attention to detail in our workshop, which means that each and every chandelier is an exclusive artistic work!

 

  1. What would you say are Manooi signatures – something that appears in each design (besides the use of crystals)? How would you describe your style?

Judit: First of all our ARTICA crystal piece serves as a Manooi certificate. It validates our chandeliers, and we put it on every chandelier where it fits the style and form.

On the other hand we have signature shapes, which over time have become a signature of our brand, just like our first crystal chandelier, Artica.

We strive for perfection and pay attention to the smallest details, both in terms of quality and design, so that our products are unique. We don’t bargain and our team works with a full commitment every day to create something special. The founding of our company entails our goal to create lasting artistic value.

 

  1. Judit, what is your role in the company and how has this evolved over the years?

We both came from the field of design, but a company requires a lot of resources and expertise in other areas as well, so I am continuously delving into new aspects of the business. According to my official job, I am the chief executive, but of course we decide cardinal issues together, both in planning and in our future directions.

As a designer, it is my responsibility to create a more harmonious and high-quality world with our products.

We also form a couple in our private lives: we have 3 children and I have to run our family as a mother at home. In the company, similarly, my job is to keep things running smoothly, to achieve our goals, for our colleagues to enjoy their work, and to develop continuously internationally as Manooi the company. Basically, I take the responsibility for having a well-functioning, ethical and recognized design company.

 

  1. What else have you created together at Manooi?

We really like to fulfil special requests. This is how the Milky Way Crystal Cow was created in cooperation with Swarovski, a piece of art which was sold at a charity auction which benefitted sick children. This crystal cow had already travelled to several countries representing the Manooi and Swarovski collaboration.

We are also proud to have created Manooi’s co-brand, Inarchi, as a modern, architectural lamp design company, with which we also achieve success in international professional circles.

In addition, we introduce a new collection every year, a ritual which we plan to take      in a whole new direction this year. We innovate with very exciting materials and techniques. In fact, this is what inspires us to create new and completely unique designs all the time.

 

 

  1. Does colour play a role in your creations?

Our coloured crystal chandeliers are becoming more and more popular.

We work with more than 40 different colours of crystals, and so far Manooi chandeliers have been made with more than 200 colour combinations.

 

  1. You work with the world’s best crystals, including Swarovski crystals. Do you have a favourite specific crystal cut or shape to work with, or a favourite crystal setting technique? Why?

Our most used crystal shape is the octagon crystal.

Up to thousands of Octogon crystals per lamp make for a  richly textured surface, a wealth of detail that has now become a trademark of Manooi. For example, our Burj model has a longer set of crystal chains than the Champs-Élysées. When decorating, we choose different crystal pendant variations to suit the basic shape.

Personally, I’m always looking forward to the innovations of the Swarovski crystal each and every time, and when I pick up the presentation palette, I admire the glittering shapes as if I were a child discovering the contents of a box full of surprises.

 

 

  1. How do you decide which Swarovski crystals to use in a particular design?

When choosing a crystal, shape is the decisive factor, depending on whether the goal is to create larger surfaces or more filigree shapes. While Swarovski beads crystals are used for our Halo and Wissh crystal chandeliers, “rectangular” crystals are used for Manooi’s Hanabi model.

Most of our crystal chandeliers are made up of octagons.

The choice of colour is definitely determined by the customer’s needs, but if the choice is left to us, we will ask for the interior design plans and our 3D modellers will suggest the most appropriate format and colour for the given interior.

 

  1. Back in 2015, we created a special cut just for Manooi, the Artica crystal. Can you tell us how this special cut came to be? What was the process of creating it?

Judit: The Artica chandelier has become an iconic symbol of the Manooi brand since Manooi was founded, and has also become the company’s logo.

The main motivation was to create a crystal for this spirituality that reflects the uniqueness and authenticity of Manooi.

Swarovski has been Manooi’s conceptual partner from the outset, inspiring our designers with the brilliance of its crystal, so we then approached Swarovski with the idea of making a bespoke, Artica-shaped crystal. János would design the shape and Swarovski’s skilled technicians would create it. The resulting Artica cut would embody the synergy between the two companies—a unique partnership.

 

  1. How have you used this crystal cut in the years since?

Judit: The Artica crystal decorates each of Manooi’s pieces to provide proof of authenticity. As a tribute to enduring partnerships and to a brilliant artistic vision, it’s the ideal embodiment of the philosophical foundations of the brand. The Artica crystal acts as a kind of certificate of authenticity.

We also use Artica crystal as jewellery, pieces of which we give as a gift to our very special partners.

How a boutique crystal chandelier maker found its home

Tucked away on a quiet street on Budapest’s “Rose Hill” is an enchanting, stately old house called the “Neuschlosz Villa”, where Manooi Light Creations’ headquarters are located.

The mansion looks like a castle of sorts, mixing neo baroque and neo renaissance styles. Long-ago pictures of the villa reveal the peak of its tower section topped by a steep crown like one might see adorning many of the towers in Prague. These days, however, it’s flat on top – one of the mansion’s battle scars from the Second World War. And it does have a number of open-air and covered verandas – added later – that offer spectacular views of the city.

Today this unique structure at Apostol Street 13 in the 2nd district is a testament to both the creativity and perseverance of Budapest.

Named after its first owner, Ödön Neuschlosz, the grand old house was completed in 1898 according to a plan by Hungarian architect Ignac Alpar, unknown at the time, but who would become one of an esteemed generation of architects who were responsible for Budapest’s architectural development at the turn of the century. Indeed, after designing the villa, Alpar won broad acclaim for his planning of the Vajdahunyad Castle for the Millenium Celebration in City Park (“Varosliget”) and went on to design the Budapest Stock Exchange, the Hungarian National Bank and the quirky “Anker” building right downtown near Deak Square, all landmarks of architecture in the Hungarian capital.

Discovering the story behind the place

That sort of deep history and grandeur were exactly what Judit Zoltai, Manooi’s co-founder, was in search of when she began looking for a company headquarters about 10 years ago. She says she has a special approach when it comes to finding an office space or picking out a family living space. “For me, it’s important that the place has a story and some history behind it,” she explains.

The Neuschlosz Villa, says Judit, was no different. It had a strange advert that piqued her interest.

She remembers, “The ad had a weird picture that showed the carved wood interior, which is fantastic, but the picture was odd and dark. Still, it was apparent from the ad that the space had some soul to it; I’m not always looking for something that would be ‘good.’ What I choose needs to have a certain ‘something.’”

Judit explains that whenever she and her husband, Janos Heder, Manooi’s co-founder, are looking for a property, she’s the one who does the legwork before showing him the “finalists”.

A masterpiece, inside and out

If the unusual exterior of the Neuschlosz Villa doesn’t wow you, just step through the heavy and massive wooden door at the mansion’s main entrance which opens up to reveal an archaic wooden staircase. Past that, one steps into an expansive parlour filled with intricately carved redwood from South America. The stately old room is big enough for throwing a ball. And just next door, to the left of the parlour, is a stunning, olde-world library. One can easily imagine it filled with classic books. Off the right side of the parlour are the offices of Manooi.

Judit says she also remembers seeing those things for the first time.

“So on the day I went to see the villa, it was enchanting because I entered, looked up and saw all of the handcrafted wood, then I went into our possible office space and looked out over the Danube, and the place really grabbed me. One of the small rooms in the back is especially bright and is a bit different than the other ones – it looks down on Margaret Island and Margaret Bridge. I found it really charming.”

“Janos also liked it, immediately,” she adds.

János Héder co-founder of Manooi

Introducing modern light creations in a classic atmosphere

Part of the reason Manooi chose the villa was the impression it makes with clients who come for a visit.

“We definitely were searching for the kind of space that would accommodate our chandeliers,” Judit explains. “Crystal chandeliers have the same effect on both modern spaces as they do on classic ones, but they definitely give their best to very special rooms, so they absolutely suit our headquarters and are in harmony with it, and our clients are really impressed – they’re taken aback in a positive way when they enter the parlor, where we’ve installed a giant chandelier on purpose, to transport them into a dream, away from life’s everyday hustle and bustle.”

She says Manooi’s offices are a contrast to the Bauhaus-era house that she and her family live in, but most of their time is spent at work in the villa.

“I remember we weren’t quite sure  we wanted to stay because the space was a bit dark, but the house representative encouraged me, saying, ‘Judit dear, you’ll see that you’re going to end up staying here longer than you think.’ And she was right! We really love being and working there,” admits Judit.

 

Lune chandelier in an office

Manooi crystal chandeliers

Where history meets mystery

As for whether there is still something to discover for her in the Neuschlosz Villa, Judit says one of her friends shared some old photos with her that revealed what the interior of the house looked like back in the old days. “Originally, the walls and the windows were much different, and when you see where there were paintings and furniture, vases – what life was like 100 years ago – that gives a really interesting peek into how it used to look.”

But, Judit says, the mansion is hiding an even greater secret about which few are aware – a tunnel that is accessible from the cellar and allegedly leads all the way to the Danube. 

“We asked if anyone had ever gone down the full length of the passage,” she reports. “They haven’t, but say that parts of it are walled in, because there could be mines or who knows what in the tunnel.”

And that’s why, even though it’s no secret what a great space Manooi found for creating and exhibiting its luxury chandeliers, the old house will keep some things to itself.

 

Stay tuned for more stories and insights from the team at Manooi!