Galle Glass Buzău, a producer of decorative glass items, has managed to overcome a market downturn a few years back and is now exporting most of its output outside of Romania. The producer employs a special technique, associated with the French artist Émile Gallé.
From the many producers of Galle-type glass items that were once open in Buzău, Galle Glass is one of the few still standing. The company uses a technique that goes back to French artist Émile Gallé, considered a major representative of the French Art Nouveau movement and is one of the founders of École de Nancy (The School of Nancy), also known as the "Alliance Provinciale des Industries d’Art". The movement marked an important, renewal moment in the decorative arts, through the use of glass, furniture, stained glass, ceramic, leather, iron, architecture, and other artistic mediums.
In his work, Gallé employed an original style, using opaque glass, often layered in several thicknesses, carved or etched with botanical motifs. In time, he established a workshop that produced larger series of his designs and that of other artists, nonetheless keeping the high-quality of the items. Gallé’s research resulted in the registration of two patents in 1898, one concerning glass marquetry and the other glass finish. His glass work proved very successful at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, an appreciation which would endure to the present and inspire many later on.
Today, the Buzău producer, in eastern Romania, is exporting 80% of its output, manufactured using the Gallé technique.
“The production process is an ample one. We still use the technique of Émile Gallé, which is difficult to understand and put into practice. The glass is layered at temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Celsius, it is then blown into a matrix, and engraved chemically and mechanically. The attention to detail, the personal, close way of relating to the clients in the sale process brings many to visit our plant, some coming even from India,” Răzvan Romaine Alexandru, the manager of Galle Glass, explains.
Most of the clients are individual ones, from Japan, China, US, France and Canada, who appreciate arts and interior design and are interested in owning a Galle-type decorative item. Among the plant’s best-selling items are the vases and the lamps, with an average order of EUR 500. The company also produces other types of glassware and lighting items, and says it stands out on the market with the diversity of its product portfolio, the production technique used and the efficiency of its customer services.
The company uses dedicated fairs, various conferences and networking sessions, social and traditional media to spread the word about its products, which can currently be purchased in stores in Bucharest, Timișoara, Sibiu, Ploiești and Buzău.
Răzvan Romaine Alexandru, who is 27, took over the management of the family business five years ago. The plant was established in 1996, out of the family’s passion for the arts. It was at first a workshop, but within four years it had reached 40 employees. The overall market decline a few years ago almost put the factory out of business. Productions costs were going up, while the business was facing pressure to keep the retail price steady.
In the last two years, over EUR 100,000 went into modernizing the production line, which led to a constant growth of the brand. The producer ended 2018 with a turnover of EUR 120,000. For 2019, it estimates a 15% increase.
This year, the company also plans to promote itself more on the local market, and educate consumers on the products obtained using the Galle technique.
“This year, we want to expand even more on the local market, where we feel we need to work more on consolidating our position. The decorative glass items of the Galle, Daum, Nancy, Mueller, Charder, Scheneider type that our customers appreciate very much are our strength on the market,” the manager explained.
Galle Glass currently has 15 employees and Alexandru would like to open a school that would train future glass blowers as the specialists in the area are very few compared to the needs of an expanding market, he says. Applying for EU funds for this project is an option that is being considered.
(Photos: Galle Glass Facebook Page)