“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
All of Fixt Electric’s wares are vintage and the number of each available (typically in the dozens) is listed.
Go to Industrial Lighting to see more of our finds, including: