Pickling. Micro-entrance for the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj

A couple of years ago, Klara Veer was in a charge of a small project, yet one with several dozen clients: a community kitchen for the members of a federation of artists and other cultural actors housed by a former factory. This projet is even tinier. The memory of the building, a sitting device and a messenger from the art inside define together a threshold.


Project, text: Klara Veer
Photo: Klara Veer, Ovidiu Micșa, Roland Vaczi

In 2009, the Paintbrush Factory reopened its doors and in a short while, took over its main role within the artistic production of Cluj. The centre for contemporary art, which is put up and managed by a federation of artists and organisations, was the first collective project of such dimensions in the Romanian cultural milieu.

*Paintbrush Factory © Roland Váczi


A couple of years after our rehabilitation project for the communal space was implemented, we were invited – this time by the owners of the factory – to (set up, refurbish) and give life to a new space: the entrance lobby of only 40 mp.

1. Waiting area – bench, display niche, ashtray. 2. Proposed wall with display cabinet. 3. New elevator in existing shaft. 4. Crane steel beam and new lighting system. 5. Proposed entrance area. 6. Former entrance area with staircase

The project started with defining the new spatial boundaries while clearing up all the clutter and improvised interventions. But the main challenge consisted in saving the last few original remnants of the former factory from ending up in the scrap-iron junkyard. The client understood their potential for authenticity and blocked the on-site dismantling of the mechanical installations, and we got underway to restore and reuse them as part of the lighting concept.


*Photo: Klara Veer.The workers visual imagination was challenged while cleaning and polishing every bolt and screw of the “scrap iron junk”: the crane pulley, the steel beams and the old water pipes


A niche was designed in the new partition wall to celebrate (sort of) an objet trouvé: an old display-cabinet hosting the entire range of paintbrushes produced within the former factory.


*Photo: Klara Veer.

It was also carefully restored and fitted-in, in order to preserve the spatial integrity and to provide a symbolical incentive for newcomers’ curiosity.


*Photo: Ovidiu Micșa. Right, objet trouvé: an old display-cabinet made out of laquered wood-veneer with a velvet background, presenting the whole range of paintbrushes produced by the former factory. In the middle, Ghost Geometry #4, by Cristian Rusu. Site-specific installation (relocated), 470 x 39 x 48 cm


Only one new piece of furniture was introduced into the space: a sitting bench made of three and a half meters of floating-felt.


*Photo: Klara Veer. Sitting bench made of three and a half meters of floating felt. Its metallic structural elements (acting as long span beams) are hidden within the soft and user-friendly material, the legs are fixed under the brushed industrial floor. The natural woolen felt and the brushed texture of the floor are subtly evoking the memory of the “Hair processing department”, that used to function on the same ground-floor of the former paintbrush factory.


*foto: Ovidiu Micșa


What is important is not the matter itself, but it’s energy.
Joseph Beuys