THE WORKS OF ‘ZOGRAFOV & SON’ ARE ART THAT YOU CAN ENJOY EVERY DAY
Ganeta Sagova, photos: Dobrin Kashavelov, archive
Could you guess what Angelina Jolie, Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, Klaus Meine from ‘Scorpions’, the Austrian skydiver and daredevil Felix Baumgartner (who jumped from the ‘edge’ of the cosmos), Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Albert II and the presidents Georgi Parvanov, Bronislaw Komorowski, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin all have in common? They all own an art piece by Zografov & Son, the Bulgarian family enterprise for luxury presents made of noble metals, spreading the name of their country around the world.
Who is the Zograf?
That was my first question to the sculptor Lyubomir Zografov and his mother with the artistic name of Titsiana Zografova, in their wonderfully clean and cosy studio in Sofia.
Lyubomir points at a black-and-white photograph on the wall of a sweet smiling man with a bushy moustache, as if telling us not to take life too seriously, but enjoy it. As he did.
Bozhin-Emanoil Stimeniy Zograf, Lyubomir’s great-great-grandfather, was born in the distant 1834 in the Vardar city of Giannitsa. He studied iconography in Athens and painted church after church all his life: in Vardar, Kukush, Doiran, Nigrita, Strumica. He became famous all the way to Rome. ‘They have one of his icons in St. Peter church,’ said his grandson Lubomir, with undisguised pride, and his mother shows us another icon painted by him, which has survived in their family despite the vicissitudes of life. And there were plenty of them in those times.
THE RED BOOTS AND THE BULGARIAN UMBRELLA
‘One day Bozhin was asked to paint a saint with red boots,’ said Titsiana. ‘He was a bit puzzled about the strange order, but he did it. Then he said, ‘Forgive me, Lord, for painting him with red shoes, but they paid me well!’’
And God forgave him, because Bozhin was God's man. He gifted him with a large family – 13 children, whom he raised with a brush in their hands and a gift in their hearts. This same gift which has been passed down into the genes of his great- and great-great-grandchildren...
Lyubomir Zografov, for example, first studied artistic ceramics, and then completed a master's degree at the Applied Faculty of the National Academy of Arts (he specialised in Metals). There, in his first year, he won a project and made the Dove of Peace out of 350 Kalashnikov assault rifles. The work can be seen in the ‘Chayka’ garden in Sofia, in front of the Information Centre of the Ministry of Defence.
The monument became very famous for a funny incident during its opening. The cloth with which it was wrapped got caught by the protruding rifle parts, and the English ambassador helped to unwrap it with... his Bulgarian umbrella, which he carried, and casually said, ‘The Bulgarian umbrella is back in use’, and ‘Gospodari na Efira’ reacted immediately to it. But as grandfather Bozhin would say, ‘There is no such thing as bad advertising.’
Over the years, Lyubomir realised many other creative ideas: beautiful and complex sets for the Sofia Opera and Ballet, a Gaudi-style railing and another one made of... pure gold, the patriarchal sceptre, etc. He made the bas-relief of the great archaeologist Georgi Kitov free-of-charge.
But his pride and joy are the jewellery and other products of his family company.
BECAUSE THEY HAVE A SOUL!
Our conversation flows smoothly and pleasantly like white clouds in a summer blue sky. I am sitting in the cool of their studio-office with a cup of fragrant coffee and now I can see why this small family business is such a huge success everywhere!
Each of their products which catch my eye in the glass display cabinet in front of me is a true work of art, in which the whole soul of the craftsman, the family warmth of several generations, the greatness of the Thracians, and the strength of the Bulgarian root is invested. And everyone who has visited this cosy place (most likely by recommendation) has been treated with the same attention as I am now. They welcome people warmly, listen to them in order to understand what kind of spirit the person for whom they were going to make a present carries, and they choose the most suitable thing for them. The one that will warm their heart every time they reach for the gift. And then the artists roll up their sleeves and miracles take place in the next room. Silver comes to life. Watch the QR code video below. You will hold your breath, I am sure.
IT NEEDS A TRUE MASTERHAND
'Zografov & Son' work mainly with silver. It is delivered in the form of sheets by the Non-Ferrous Metals Plant in Plovdiv. First, the sheet is heated to a red-hot temperature to soften it a bit. 'You need to be very careful when processing silver, because when it gets bent several times, it hardens up and becomes easily-breakable,' explained Lyubomir.
The silver sheet is then placed on a mould on the drawing lathe and, with a steel thumb similar to a potter's wheel, the silver is drawn into the desired shape. It is processed 'cold', so it needs a lot of effort. 'Besides effort and strength, you might need a bit of a skill,' adds Lyubomir. 'If you press too hard, the silver will break and has to be remelted. But if you work with copper, you have to throw it away.' This moulded shape is then filed, polished, and assembled to the other parts to become a whole... 'The technology and handcraft we use is close to the technique of the ancient masters, but enriched with modern methods to achieve quality and durability'.
Although he holds a degree in Metalwork from the Bulgarian Academy of Art, Lyubomir Zografov learned the craft from his father Nikolay, who is the founder of the company (1991) together with his wife, Tiztsiana. Before that, he was engaged in filigree and silver jewellery and forged copper for a state-owned company named 'Narodno Tvorchestvo'.
'Nikolay is so good with his hands. Anything he starts, comes out well. In our class, he was the best in Mathematics, and his engineering skills are out-of-this-world,' said Titsiana, who has been with him since their school days.
NIKOLAY ZOGRAFOV: I NEVER IMAGINED...
'When I founded the company 26 years ago, I never imagined that the products we make would belong to presidents, diplomats, artists, and other famous people from all over the world... I have always tried to recreate the elegance and finesse of the details, to capture the desire of the client and present them with the object of their dreams. It is a special feeling of pride to be part of a centuries-old family and to know that your great-grandfather painted St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. To feel the creative spirit of your ancestors, which is passed down through the generations and which we still possess today. I am happy that I was able to share my skills and knowledge with my son, as our forefathers did. His ardour and his gift as an artist elevated our works to the epitome of taste and class.
Our clients know that products with the 'Zografov & Son' seal are a symbol of uniqueness and style. And as Picasso said: 'Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.'
Lyubomir’s wife, Boryana Angelova, a graduate of the Bulgarian National Theatre and Film Academy and Lyubomir’s school love, joined the company in 2009. They have two children, aged 8 and 12.
HUNDREDS OF HAPPY FACES
Today, 'Zografov & Son' manufactures products from noble and non-ferrous metals, and exotic wood, custom-made art pieces such as: dishes, family valuable objects, souvenir replicas of items from antique treasures, official business gifts, and accessories for cigars and pipes, etc. You will not find any of the products in the commercial network where 'they have it all, but minus the personal touch. And we make sure we provide it, that's why we don't work with stores. The connection we establish with people is priceless. It gives us the power to keep going,' explained Titsiana Zografova, glancing behind her at the wall of photographs of happy, smiling people holding their pieces of art in their hands.
SILVER CUP FOR HEALTH
A lot of the objects that the craftsmen make are based on their clients' ideas. A relative of theirs once told them, 'Could you make a whisky cup for a friend who loves wood?' And that was how their first whisky cup appeared. It was made of wood and metal, which marked the beginning of a series – in various colours, types of wood and sizes.
The cup can be gold or silver, or it can only be gilded – it depends on the buyer's finances. When the items are made of pure silver (or gold), as royal families had theirs, the price is higher, but the taste quality of the water or wine drunk from them is better too. As silver ions are released, they charge the fluid and keep a person in good physical condition. 'We drink only such water; it is softer and tastier. Our children also grew up with silver dishes, that's why they didn't have colic and enjoy good health,' said Lyubomir, and showed us a children silver cup. The first letter of the child’s name can be engraved on the cup.
It is not a coincidence that one of the best-selling products of the company is a seemingly ordinary silver cup for everyday use. Lyubomir shows his, it has been used for years. The cup also has a lid so that the water does not spill if you ride a horse or just push it on the desk by accident...
The stories that the Zografovs can tell us are too many for one article.
THE SPIRIT IS ALIVE
We leave the studio confident that the Bulgarian spirit will never die. The colder the world gets, and with artificial intelligence taking over, the more they try to robotise us, the more we will seek the human touch, the beauty and joy of communication, and we will spread the fire within us like modern-day Zografs!
The Bulgarian brand is a byword for exquisite pieces of beauty, style and uniqueness Silver cups, vessels of exotic woods, replicas of Thracian treasures: for over 30 years, the luxury items with the brand Zografov have been the best choice to make gifts that impress, inspire and speak of beauty, power and craftsmanship.
A client asked us once, ‘Which wooden whiskey cup should I choose? You have various types of wood, colour and metal - silver or gold plating. Which combination would be best for me?’ The answer depends on many factors: what wood you like, what colour would fit best to the setting in which the cup will be, etc. etc.
Walnut is a broadleaf tree widely distributed in the Balkans. Whiskey cups made of walnut have a rich, dark colour and a smooth texture that feels comfortable in the hand. The combination of materials, the warm and natural beauty of the walnut and the soft shine of the gold, attracts attention, magically enhancing the aesthetic, adding a touch of luxury and sophistication.
Cherry whiskey cups have a warm, inviting look and are often used for special occasions. The combination with gold or silver accents completes the aesthetics of the wood.
The preference of the colours and the wood from which the cups are made depends on our current mood. Just like listening to music or our desire to go out and meet friends or stay at home with our favourite drink depends on our current state of mind.
Most people like to make a unique and remarkable gift. They are looking for one that makes the recipient feel special. An item which can relate to a memory of a friend or an important moment in someone's life, a gift made of quality materials, which will not be put on the shelf and forgotten, but will be given a special place so that it can always remind, who gave it.
През годините сме изписвали върху месингови табелки много поздравления, лични пожелания или само имена и дати. По-долу Ви показваме различни текстове-примери според повода. Това може да Ви улесни, когато съставяте Вашият текст.
If you wish, we can take care of your items. Give us a call and we will not only restore the silverware, but we will also apply an additional gold coating. The fee for the service is negotiable. Thus, you will have your favourite cup or jug in its original state once again.
In this article, we will tell you what the different types of trees symbolize, how wooden items are made, and in what package you will receive them from our studio. This will help you choose the most suitable ones for you or for the person you want to give them to.
According to recent research by American biologists and epidemiologists, silver is able to cope with new viruses and bacteria, unlike most known antibiotics and antiseptics. It is therefore no surprise that silver water is set to become an antibacterial miracle.
When you want to surprise your loved one, friend or colleague for their celebration, you could give them something original, memorable, personal and luxurious - something unique. The gratitude you will see in their eyes will make you happy.
We at 'Zografov & Son' offer you luxurious gifts, full of spirit, emotion and sentiment which, we promise you, cannot be found anywhere else! CHOOSE A PRECIOUS GIFT What gift to choose for a 50th birthday?
It is interesting and remarkable how much history and how many artifacts there are in a territory as small as Bulgaria. During each excavation, archaeologists find a piece of the life of our ancestors. We are a nation with a rich past, and that is priceless. All these discoveries made by archaeologists are changing scientists' perceptions of the oldest centers of human civilization. The historical artifacts prove that a civilization flourished on the territory of Bulgaria long before the Hellenic one. A culture existed which created items of high artistic value.
‘There are two very real reasons to buy business gifts that are not necessarily warm and fuzzy. One is obviously to thank someone for their business for the year. The other is to make sure you remain top of mind, and to get your name in front.’
To create a unique emotion for your nearest and dearest or to reward your business partner, the desire to leave something for your children, for their children, even for people in hundreds of years, is an irreplaceable feeling and a strong motivation.
If you have the chance to visit the museum in Vratsa, you will come upon an incredible sight: dozens of small dishes, placed in special chambers, as if telling you their own story. Their splendid detail sparkles in the dark, and we can only marvel at how they were made by the ancient craftsmen
Did you know that there are people who prefer their name days to their birthdays? Our name day symbolizes the energy that is encoded in our name. It is part of our individuality and, like the birthday, defines us in the world. Even if we regard this day as a celebration of many people with the same name, it is also an occasion to unite with them and experience a common emotion of the positive energy and good wishes we receive. When choosing a name day present, you need to bear in mind the following....
Когато преди 26 години Николай Зографов решава да се посвети на своето фино изкуство, той не предполага, че след години творенията му ще принадлежат на президенти, дипломати, аристократи, артисти и известни личности от цял свят. Талантливите му ръце извайват съвършени композиции от благородни метали и екзотична дървесина, превръщайки предметите в истински произведения на изкуството.
Любомир Зографов пред Bulevard.bg - за наследствения занаят да изработваш подаръци за ценители, Светия граал като вдъхновение и умението да впечатлиш дори Бил Клинтън