Entrepreneurship - Deco&Design - Furniture

The story of the silk-like furniture at Gallery 98

Gallery 98, a furniture manufacturing company in Piatra Neamt, makes bathroom furniture, small furniture and custom-made furniture at a high quality level classified in the category luxury furniture. The quality of the furniture can be seen in the materials used and the very elaborate finish, but also in the way the parts that are not visible are made. Everything is well sanded and painted so that, to the touch, the furniture looks like silk. The company is owned by the Dascălu family whom I met many years ago. Mrs Dascălu - a voluble, friendly and cheerful person who is impossible not to like, is the author of the exquisite finishes that make Galeria 98 furniture so popular.

Spring Collection
Baroque furniture

The beginning, 20 years ago

The discussion with Mrs. Dascălu always ties in naturally. Although she is very busy being in the factory among the workers most of the time, where she is sanding a piece of furniture, applying patina or mixing different colours trying to find the perfect one, she finally managed to talk about the beginnings of the business. Seeing the finishes that come out of his hand, you'd think he'd been around luxury furniture all his life. But the beginning was different:

We've been furniture makers, you could say, for 20 years. We started in a former CAP stable. Yes, that's right. Sounds terrible, but it was. We worked 16-hour days to turn it into a furniture workshop. Now I wouldn't start over. Those were different times. Starting a business, any business, takes money, hard work and a big dose of unconsciousness. I started from scratch. It was hard, I took a lot of risks.

I had no experience in this field. My husband worked at the former wood processing plant in Piatra Neamt. I had to learn by doing. It was the family business, our investment, and I had to get involved. I can say that I stepped stubbornly from my 12 cm heels straight into the stable-workshop, into the dust, into the smell of varnishes and thinners, but I learned to varnish and I made furniture.

The beginning was difficult. The finishing section was outside, under a tarp - a sheet tied to 2 poles, to keep the wind from blowing and bringing the rubbish over the precious furniture. That's how I learned about lacquers, thinners, primer... I didn't know anything, I ruined products, I ruined paint, but I learned. 80% of the production made was standard furniture in the "arte povera" style and that helped me a lot to gain experience.

We had our own business and I allowed myself the luxury of experimenting with finishes, I did trials, I mixed colours, patinas, I innovated.

Rama TV patina
Baroque chest of drawers

The crisis of 2009 led to a new beginning and luxury furniture

At first they only worked on furniture poor art made of poplar or lime and exported to Italy. Unfortunately the crisis came and the Italian market collapsed. Orders were getting smaller and smaller, and payment terms were getting longer and longer. They decided to reorientate themselves and try other markets to continue their business. One option was the Romanian market. That's how they started to make luxury furniture, with patinas and special finishes, furniture on demand for the most extravagant tastes.

We did our first large-scale projects on the domestic market in 2009. The economic crisis forced us to reinvent ourselves. We had to pay more attention to the internal market. Working directly with designers meant a new level of quality, we had to get as close to perfection as possible. We started working with Ferarri red or titanium white colours, using patinas, colour palettes, finishing schemes.

Baroque ensemble
Baroque lunch


The customer's reaction at the end is confirmation of a job well done

The gallery makes custom-made furniture and is really successful. You'd think, this new custom furniture market leads to more problems and a much harder to control business. But if you listen to Ms Dascălu, you'll realise that's not quite the case. On the contrary!

Most of the time a finish starts with a story. A client comes in with a request and ... a scarf, for example, and wants the colours of the scarf in the bedroom. And we start talking, we start telling stories, and the storytelling is how a finish is born. I can't say I always know what will come out in the end, but I have an image, a palette of colours and lots and lots of imagination. Every order starts with photos and a hand sketch with dimensions and compartments. The customer's reaction at the end, when they see the product, is confirmation of a job well done. Sometimes we are deeply surprised. A customer's gesture of hugging a piece of furniture with his cheek against the frame saying "it looks like silk" says it all.


About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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