Forgotten treasures lurk inside the abandoned Soviet-bloc factories, and artist Matyas Szaplonczai of Busho Studio is on a mission to seek them all out. The Budapest-based designer salvages beautiful Central-Eastern European vintage industrial lighting left behind in the massive factories that closed down after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Szaplonczai reworks the lamps and relics, which are often passed off by others as junk, into beautiful vintage lights, each with its own unique story.
The abandoned factories that Szaplonczai explores had been built by Iron Curtain countries at the height of communism to support weaponry manufacturing by hard collectivist labor. Once the Soviet Union was dismantled, however, these enormous buildings turned into bygone monoliths filled with deteriorating artifacts of a lost era. Where most would see industrial trash, however, Szaplonczai sees treasure.
“To me, this is also a personal mission: we rescue these beautiful pieces of work from being sold for a few dimes as junk metal,” says Szaplonczai. “Our journeys are constant treasure hunts, and I am always surprised how much this area is filled with wonderfully designed lighting pieces.”
Szaplonczai and other Busho Studio designers seek out their unique custom-lighting solutions everywhere from abandoned factories to decommissioned mines in a variety of former Soviet countries. Once a suitable piece is found, the designers must rework it with the latest lighting technologies. Some of the more unique finds by Busho Studio include the explosion-proof fluorescent lights salvaged from a Budapest paint shop in an old public bus garage; bulbs encased in enamel-coated steel shades found in a Hungarian paprika-processing factory; as well as mine lights that originally lit tunnels deep underground in Ukraine.
Images via Busho Studio