Let’s unveil the story of one of the most magical venues in the city, a house painted in watercolours, with the loveliest garden, covered by cheerful umbrellas. You simply can’t find a more creative place in the entire city. I wanted to learn about their story, so I did a lovely interview with Alexandra Bujenita, their friendly PR, inside the colourful summer garden.
Acuarela is not only one of the hippest places to hang around Bucharest, but also has a wonderful soul painted by its visitors. The place opened 5 years ago and is reinventing itself every season, bringing new fascinating elements in decoration and menu. Let’s see what Alexandra Bujenita has to say about the place:
How did the team come up with the idea?
Andrei, illustrator and his brother, Alexu, art director, opened in the winter of 2012, Imbold Gallery, an open space for exhibitions and contemporary artists - Misha Diaconu, Victor Fota had their first personal exhibition here. The idea of Acuarela developed as a natural extension of Imbold gallery: In the attic, at the beginning, there was a small bistro for artists and the community around them.
The bistro had great success, so many of the people who were attending those events wanted to return inside the garden. This is how the space turned into Acuarela.
Why Acuarela? (watercolor in Romanian)
The idea of the name came from their mother, Aura Toader, she loves painting and also she was thinking to create a relaxing activity for the community around artists.
Watercolors are a great passion reminding us all of childhood and making us become more creative by mixing colors with water and painting our thoughts on paper. We use the old fashioned ones that aren’t actually easy to find. We need to get them ordered so our clients will always find a corner inside our venue where they can practice their talents the same way they did when they were kids.
What’s the story of the umbrellas?
Umbrellas make the space look a lot more colourful. We were the first terrace in Bucharest to cover our open space with this type of design back in 2013, it was a cool way of standing out and it matched the concept with the rest of the decorations we have laying around. The focus is set on recycling and using vintage products in a new interpretation as a décor. We change the umbrellas every season so the colours always look bright and shiny.
Why should tourists stop here while visiting Bucharest?
Acuarela is a relaxed spot where you can discover a lot of wonderful surprises in all corners, it has a bit of magic from the past reinterpreted in its lively colours. On top of it you can drink some great lemonades and smoothies and enjoy cool events especially during the warm season. Tourists should come by if they want to see life in a more optimistic way, Acuarela has a colourful atmosphere and makes you feel happy as in childhood.
What is the most special thing in your menu?
The Fritzer and our home-made lemonades are super tasty and healthy. We try to use only natural ingredients and serve them at chilled temperature that go so well with the hot summer days. Cocktails in general are a strength on our menu, all made in house. We always try to bring hip drinks on our menu, Hugo and Aperol Spritz were stars in the first summer of Acuarela. For this summer we plan to do new drinks as well.
What is the thing you are most proud of among all the elements of the house?
Firstly, we love all the personal objects that belonged to the family and became useless in time, but gained a new colourful life inside the venue. We love every small object that make part of our design. From our grand-grand father photo and our family heritage photo with Brancusi to our old cars: Volkswagen T2, Dacia 1100, Lada, all make part of our branding and passion.
We like to keep things authentic and promote local brands and locally produced objects.
Last year, on White Night of Galleries, we organized an exhibition Teracota, mon amour! that has visited later also Alba Iulia, Iasi and Busteni (Cantacuzino Palace).
On Romanian Design Week, Imbold Arts & Crafts launched at Acuarela the first shop of the last factory of hand-painted stoves in Romania.
Also, during Romanian Design week two more elements were changed in the garden. The Volkswagen T2 busbar was manually painted by Andrei Argaetic live in the garden. Misha Diaconu and Marian Mardare installed the apple tree sculpture on the outern wall of the house. Check them out (pictures from RDW taken by Stefan Vartolomei):
What does the message written on the restrooms mean?
Atelierul de proiectare (“design workshop”) is supposed to be a joke even though some people took it seriously, hehe. The name won the award of the most creative bathroom some years ago and it still stirs giggles whenever somebody comes by for the first time.
What about Artmaroc?
Artmaroc was an art shop with ideas of gifts from artists/ Romanian designers . It was only one year in our gallery, initially it was only for the winter season, but it was so nice and cool that we kept it all year. Our nice colleague, Ioana Dorofteiu, helped us a lot with Artmaroc, She now lives in UK.
Who are your customers? At Acuarela come nice and cool people and we like to think that it is a bistro of arts for people who have something to say in town (and most of them are Young unconventional people, artists, aged 25-35 years).
Besides tourists, we also have a set of clients coming from curiosity, like at the museum. We are glad to see that every day we have new customers who ask us "where is the bathroom?", And they are either artists, art lovers, designers, advertisers, corporations or students.
Do people here speak English?
All of them, it’s common for most younger people to speak English, for us it’s even more important to have staff that can talk to visitors.
What is your favourite spot in this neighbourhood? What shouldn’t travellers miss if they come by?
For me personally the local Ioanid park is a nice spot for relaxing, even though I also enjoy walking around Romana Square to Capital city streets (Paris, Roma, Washington & co).
I like losing myself on the small streets around Victoriei, Romana, Universitate, Unirii.
A special thank you to Alexandra for taking the time to tell us the story of Acuarela.
Photo credits go to @NegutCristiFoto