Andreea TronFrom: Slobozia Born on: 27 July 1989 Occupation: Architect, Entrepreneur - Founder of "Atelier Tron"
Andreea Tron is an architect and the owner of Atelier Tron. She lived in Slobozia, the city where her parents were relocated after finishing college in the communist regime. She studied architecture in Netherlands and Sweden, worked in an architecture office in the southern Brazil, and now she dyes in her grandparent’s countryside garden, sews and creates sustainable in Bucharest.
She participated for two months at a charity rally in Mongolia with two friends and she says that “When you start something from scratch it is difficult to make peace with yourself and to feel that you know what you are doing.”
In Andreea’s universe organic materials, plants, manual dyeing techniques, sewing machines, care for nature and human beings, are layering. The result is natural. It is built on unwritten laws, on ones engraved differently in the order of the world, but also written, literally, one beneath another:
* Consume responsibly. Ask yourself why you want to buy something before you do it.
* Live slowly.
* Educate yourself and teach others.
* Know the people who make your objects.
* Think sustainable.
And they’re not the only ones.
Li Edelkoort, the one who predicts the social and cultural trends before they even appear, foresees that mankind wants to pull the brake and return to the old rhythm, to silence, to senses and soul, to simplicity, nature and crafts.
That’s what Andreea offers us: means to slow down.
She teaches us patience, she tests our curiosity through sewing and dyeing with natural plant pigments workshops, as she also provides us with ready to wear sustainable clothing products from materials like organic cotton, muslin, flax, hemp and silk.
Photo: Atelier Tron, Sorin Nainer
Photo: Atelier Tron, Sorin Nainer
MS: Atelier Tron is a sustainable brand that mixes the passion for art, design, fashion and architecture into a series of objects. What are you doing there exactly?
Many things. I dye, I make patterns, I sew, and then I also teach others how to do it. I couldn’t do them all without Iulia Cuican, my colleague for over a year.
In some stressed moments of my life I discovered the dyeing and after participating in some workshops in Asia and one in Spain, I found that it resembled with what my grandparents were doing years ago, but in the same time something that I can do it now as well. So I made a lots of experiments and, in the end – when the technique was mastered I started the workshops. Most of the time people come, whether they are trying to escape from corporate environments or they simply want to do something interesting in their free time. Others have their own crafting business, making flower decorations or clothes for children and by joining us they learn something new. The feedback is always positive. We all have a passion for nature and natural. We dye and we talk. (she laughs) And I see them leaving more relaxed.
Clothes I started making for fun. After the firsts products people begin to ask for more and because I knew how to sew and how to design patterns, I said I should do it. Now I create dresses, blouses, shorts (everyone’s favourites), silk underwear, scarves. Then, I convinced myself that it is a loss to not use this tailoring techniques for the benefits of others and I structured the information and put it in a dedicated workshop.
Photo: Blouse made by Andreea Tron
Photo: Panties made by Andreea Tron
MS: How was the beginning for you?
I’m still at the beginning. The 10th start (she laughs). First of all, I think it would have been a great move to work and learn in a design studio before launching this business. Maybe my path would have been smoother if I knew certain things as: how to reach customers, how to apply some principles to some products or how to find suppliers. For example, it took me a year to find a supplier of natural materials produced in Romania. But that’s it, we make decisions and we have to deal with them and their consequences.
I started out with the thought that I would make products and interior design. That’s how I connected the materials with architecture. It was a bridge. Then, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted. My desire was to make interior decorations using my favourite materials, but at the same time thinking sustainable. Well, that was hard to believe. Even though I knew my perspective was valuable, it wasn’t necessarily perceived as something professional from outside.
It was an entire road, because initially I started with production, then I worked on interior decoration projects and created various objects through collaboration.
I started slow with a Start-up Nation funding. I’m not an organized person. I don’t like legal aspects, accountancy nor to endlessly insist in order to obtain what I need. I have my principles and I try not to deviate from them, although it is easy. You say “yes” to a project and you put others on hold. It‘s very easy to be disturbed because at the beginning it is very difficult. (she laughs) The fact that I chose a less mature market in Romania was difficult again, because I don’t want to be hypocritical and to say that I produce sustainable, but what comes out of my hands to harm nature. However, producing is not in fact sustainable. The market has so many products that there is no need to bring others. But, on the other hand, you can’t educate without producing.
Now, I invest in myself, in my education, in workshops, and I move on. I want to grow and I want my word as a brand to weight heavier.
MS: “Sustainable” is a word that is still unclear to many people. It has, in general, been defined as something that doesn’t compromise the fulfillment of the future generation needs. In which way are sustainable the products of Atelier Tron?
In the last year it all become more obvious that we need to focus on producing with an eye wide open to the climate change and resources. I said from the beginning that Atelier Tron will produce textile items that are environmentally friendly, so we are doing everything we can to keep our promise.
We start by reusing material leftovers. We chose to work with natural or locally produced materials (both fibers and dye) because they are biodegradable and don’t affect the skin and the environment as much as the rest.
Moreover, we encourage the return to the crafts in everyday life, both through the products we bring to the world, but also with the help of the workshops. One of the main reasons why we work with natural dye is the desire to keep relevant the tradition of a craft in which we believe in, translating it into a contemporary form. For two years we have been promoting into the creative space this poetic and contemporary way of looking at the natural dyes, but at the same time as a realistic alternative to chemical paints.
Photo: Natural materials dyed with natural pigments
MS: What difficulties are you facing right now?
In general, these are financial and I don’t have the necessary financial education to handle them. It would be useful to have a partnership with someone specialized in this area in order to influence my further decisions and actions.
In addition to that it is clear that I have an explosive creativity. Once I start something I lose control, jumping from one task to another. So, I have scheduled days where I focus only on financial and legal aspects, other days on making patterns or for research. As an example, the past week I was working on a blouse, when I remembered that I didn’t make an invoice and while I was opening the laptop to do it, I also found 50 tabs open and I started to read. An absolute compromise. That’s why I need dedicated days.
MS: What is your goal?
Working in large series wouldn’t correspond with the concept I chose. To produce only on demand, it will take too long. So, to work in mini-series and to go into a few physical stores is the best option. As a customer you want to see these kind of products, to touch and to try them before buying them.
I want to create products more defined. I want people to know what I do. From concept to reality is not always a smooth path and it took me a while to understand that it doesn’t really matter what you do, as much as the story you tell. Whether it’s interior decorations, or it’s a blouse.
I am satisfied with what I do and now I feel that my things have come to be appreciated. But even so, I don’t know exactly how it will be. That’s why I said earlier that I’m still at the beginning, the 10th. I read a lot, I enroll in different online courses and I think about everything: entrepreneurship, design, materials. I’m always with 7 books around me and 50 open tabs on my monitor. Things are changing fast and I don’t want to be left behind.
For me 2020 is a year about defining and growing a sustainable business plan.
Photo: Making patterns, Andreea Tron
MS: Your activities are different within Atelier Tron. What do you like the most to do there?
To dye. And plant based dyeing is a good exercise for learning patience.
Look, in the case of the eco-print, the plants are placed on the material, then rolled and steamed with hot air for 3 hours. After that you keep it in the fridge for a week. It’s a process you can’t rush. But when a unique product comes out of your hands, it’s beautiful.
In Galeșu I have a big table in the garden, so many plants, big containers for painting and I can work without problems. There, in the countryside, I understood that some things can only be in one way.
In addition to the eco-print, there is also mass dyeing, when you boil the plants and immerse the material in the pigment.
Photo: Dyeing with plants, Andreea Tron
MS: How are materials during the dyeing process and what plants do you use to get different colors?
First of all, the materials used can be either of vegetable source, like cotton, linen, hemp or of animal source, like silk or wool. Depending on its nature the results and the way it is handled differs. Protein fibers react more to colour, but are more sensitive to temperature, while cellulose fibers are less responsive and resistant to dyeing, but much more flexible during the process.
It takes patience, big containers, fresh water, plants with strong pigments and a source of heat – whether it’s fire, gas or electricity heating. It takes a lot of research and countless tests to make the results valuable and lasting.
Before anything the material should be washed very good and it has to be fixed with various natural substances. I try to use only local plants, so I’m following their appearance according to each season: spring begins with the dandelions, violets, nettles; the summer comes with all kinds of wild flowers and the autumn with a multitude of leaves and colours. I also encourage painting with food leftovers – onion leaf, avocado peel, pomegranate or nutshell.
Photo: Different types of cotton, Ileana Sebe
Photo: Merinos wool , Ileana Sebe
Photo: Cloth, Ileana Sebe
Andreea rigorously keep up with her plan and the day of our meeting was one dedicated to “manufacturing”. She laughs and tells me she is working on a blouse for the winter season: “I started the prototype yesterday and today I will finish it.”
And I say “rigorously” because that’s how architecture studies have polished her. “There is a lot about doing the right thing, about the attention to detail, about the plan, design and decoration. Because I studied so much during faculty classes, it didn’t take me long to understand that a coat is built as anything else: you take the 2D material and transpose it into 3D. When I realized that a pattern and a cloth are the same as a project and a mock-up, I felt like I was experiencing a revelation.”, she concludes. So nothing is accidental, nothing is in vain. Sometime, somehow, we use all we have accumulated over time. Moreover, her whole life journey seems to be a sum of “irrational decisions”, which proved to be exactly what it should be.
Surprising to Andreea is this combination between pragmatism and dreaming. It has a pragmatic personality, but it is also attracted by everything that art means; she is realistic, but she sees things “a bit romantic”. There is also an alternation in its way of speaking, sometimes it has a “technical” phrase, and sometimes a more narrative one – “From spring to autumn I am captivated by plants that come and go.”
Perhaps this structure is the primary advantage on her sustainable and creative entrepreneurship path.
Photo: Blouse, Andreea Tron