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Inspirational magic of light

Nikolay Tabakov: My lamps and the people who own them belong together

“I've been working with light for 13 years now. At first I used to make candles and now I am making lamps. This was a natural progression and maybe the curiosity led me along the way. I started with so sophisticated shapes that my first lamps looked like metal sculptures,” Nikolay Tabakov recalls. His unique lamps are well known not only in Bulgaria but also in many other countries around the world. They have the most intriguing complex shapes, made of welded metal frames and hand-made Nepalese paper with embedded flowers, leaves and other decorations.

“I think it is because of the paper that the lamps are so popular,” says Nikolay Tabakov. "The lamps and paper are handmade and maybe that's why they fit in my concept of light so well. At first glance, two papers may look the same, however, when light passes through them, you see how different they are. The light is more saturated in some places while other spots are dimmer, which gives beauty to the lamp.”


At the beginning of artistic experiments, strange forms were born, but Nikolay Tabakov has established a universal technique that he has been developing for a long time and today his lamps are soft and exquisite. “I see a great development in my work as I have perfected the forms and messages the lamps bring. Even now, I feel a little sorry I've become so good at making lamps, as I miss the experiment," he says. The place where Nikolay Tabakov fully unleashes his fantasy is at exhibitions. His lamps have been put on display not only in Bulgaria, but also in England, France, Spain. How is his work accepted abroad?

“Very well," the artist says. “In Bulgaria, hand-made things are also appreciated, but in the West there are long-standing traditions in this sphere as people appreciate uniqueness. Exhibition lamps are literally works of art. I start from a point and I follow the shape – whether it would be rectangular or square. But I never know where I am going. I see the result only when the lamp is lit up.”


Nikolay Tabakov's lamps cannot be found in galleries and shops for the simple reason that he wants to know the people who buy them.

“We need to talk and then they can have one of my lamps," Nikolay says. “We make a drawing and discuss the details before I start working. The lamps are bought by a variety of people, but most of them are people who, just like me, have a personal relationship with things they own. For my joy, the time when cheap items were presented as gifts is now over. Now people want a personal message, personal attitude, and I give them just that. I often say that my lamps belong to certain people and vice versa.”

Nikolay Tabakov says he is constantly inventing new things because the lamps also need development. That is how he decided that a name could be seen when the lamp is on. “It is like a bonus to personal attitude, because the lamp is personalized 100%" he says.


At the beginning of spring, Nikolay is to organize a gathering of people who own one of his lamps or have made one themselves thanks to his workshops.

“My idea is to get together, bringing all the lamps, so a great colorful fairy tale emerged. People would get to know each other and show their lamps. These lamps are fruit of my imagination. Human imagination is infinite, and I try to use it in the best way in the lamps I do.”

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: courtesy of Nikolay Tabakov

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