Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Reborn in the USA: Soviet Industrial Lights from Fixt Electric

Search

Reborn in the USA: Soviet Industrial Lights from Fixt Electric

March 24, 2017

“Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of a very monumental chapter in our lives,” read the Instagram caption. “It was the day our years of hard work arrived from Russia on a 40-foot shipping container.”

How in the world did a young couple from Minneapolis end up on a buying trip to Soviet-era bomb shelters and subway tunnels? I reached out to Nate Jackson and Taylor Kaszynski, who together run Fixt Electric. They explained their improbable career path: “We’re both musicians,” says Nate. “We met at a songwriter’s showcase, started a band, fell in love, and discovered a shared love of vintage design.” That led to buying and restoring midcentury and industrial furniture—they called their business Fine-Ass Furnishings—and, along the way, Nate began obsessing over the troves of light fixtures he imagined could be found in Eastern Europe. “We both started pouring through live journals of Russian urban explorers and identifying light fixtures in photos,” says Taylor. “The more research we did on Soviet industrial light fixtures, the more plausible the idea became.”

Photography by Mariah Hamm, courtesy of Fixt Electric.

with funds from their garage furniture business and from selling just about eve 9
Above: With funds from their garage furniture business and from selling just about everything they owned, the couple took the plunge and booked their plane tickets in the fall of 2015.”The intent was to come home with possibly 300 lights,” says Nate, “but by the end of our trip, we had purchased over 3,000 fixtures and thousands of parts.”
once these pieces made the precarious journey from moscow to minnesota, fixt el 10
Above: Once these pieces made the precarious journey from Moscow to Minnesota, Fixt Electric was born.

“On our buying trip, some people thought we were a bit mad. Many had never even seen an American before, so being strangers in Russia—who don’t speak Russian—and buying old light fixtures was understandably odd.”

 working out of a converted manufacturing building in the arts district of nor 11
Above: Working out of a converted manufacturing building in the arts district of northeast Minneapolis, Nate and Taylor painstakingly restore their finds.

“The process involves completely disassembling each fixture, cleaning the parts separately, and then applying coatings that preserve the patina (or, if a more polished look is desired, we strip them down to their raw metal),” says Nate.

the kenwood coin, left, \$475,  and broadway bunker, right, \$375, are both m 12
Above: The Kenwood Coin, left, $475,  and Broadway Bunker, right, $375, are both made of cast aluminum and feature explosion-proof glass. They’re found in former Soviet munitions factories and military installations.
“We love vintage industrial light fixtures,” Nate tells us, “and, as they began to creep into residential spaces, we watched supplies here dry up. When we saw our first pictures of Soviet lights, they were perfect: familiar but different; clean lines, but different shapes and colors. And then there’s the adventure of finding them.”

 a pleasant poplar, left, \$350, a \1970s soviet design, and a mint mohawk, ri 13
Above: A Pleasant Poplar, left, $350, a 1970s Soviet design, and a Mint Mohawk, right, $575. The latter is a Russian design the couple say was based on 1950s Czech warehouse pendants. It has a mint green porcelain enamel finish and a fitter with an aluminum clasp “similar to sash locks on windows.”
“Our fixtures came out of a variety of places, including old factories, warehouses, bomb shelters, and mines. We also scored a large quantity of 1960s and ’70s ‘old-new stock’ with the manuals still in them.”

the german ginger, center, \$475, is, according to the fixt catalogue, &#8\ 14
Above: The German Ginger, center, $475, is, according to the Fixt catalogue, “a rare conical pendant consisting of both Soviet and DDR components. It was manufactured by the East German company Elektroinstallation Oberweimer. Fascinatingly, this light was found in an electrician’s warehouse on the outskirts of Moscow.”
in the past year, the couple has supplied lights for a range of residential and 15
Above: In the past year, the couple has supplied lights for a range of residential and commercial settings, including the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, which has similar black enamel-finished Porcelain Panther lights, $575, hanging over the tables in its bar.
All of Fixt Electric’s wares are vintage and the number of each available (typically in the dozens) is listed.

taylor at work. &#8\2\20;each light has its own personality and requires a  16
Above: Taylor at work. “Each light has its own personality and requires a lot of elbow grease. We completely rewire the fixture with new parts. From there, we test and UL list the light, so our customers can safely install them.”
taylor and nate minutes after their crate finally arrived from russia. go to f 17
Above: Taylor and Nate minutes after their crate finally arrived from Russia. Go to Fixt Electric to see more and follow their adventures via Instagram at @fixtelectric.

Go to Industrial Lighting to see more of our finds, including:

Product summary  Item 7 137Item 8 138

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0