Dimitar Palanski has always had a knack for creating things even as a kid, disassembling his toys and using their components to re-create his very own customized versions of R2D2s and gadgets. In his second year in the University, he created a home-built lamp and from there, sparked the idea of opening the Etsy shop, now called Paladim Handmade.
Since 2012, Dimitar, along with his brother Svetoslav, have been designing and creating wooden lamps, clocks, and home decor from an old garage-turned-workshop in Bulgaria. In this interview, Dimitar talks about his business, what he loves most about his craft, his design style, etc.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
Not much of a story… after thinking of several names like “Edilamps”, “Thomy lamps” and a few more I can’t recall now, I realized that any of these is neither creative or memorable. And I wanted to have something good for people to remember and when they think of the name, they think of the items from the brand. It had to be unique in some way and had to be associated with my work. Then, one morning, it stroke me – it was me, Dimitar Palanski turned into Paladim (“Pala”nski “Dim”itar). It wasn’t the best one for sure, but I waited for too long to think of it and it was time to start with something.
What are your top 3 favorite picks from your shop?
Well, I love all items on our shop, otherwise you wouldn’t find them there. When we have an idea, we turn it to reality. It is just that sometimes ideas don’t turn out as good as we thought. And when these times come, these ideas go in the trash… Only the best ones survive!
However, if there must be a favorite one, I should say it is the “Kran VI”. In fact it is a very improved version of the first desk lamp I ever made, the “Kran I”. And it was also the first item I sold. It turned my beloved hobby into a business.
Can you share with us the process of creating these items?
Sure, we design an item on paper, then use some wood, some fasteners, stain, glue, sanding, and with some magical rituals (like assembling the parts together) you have the finished product. It is that easy!
Now, to be honest it actually is easy. But it is easy because we enjoy doing what we do. Yes, it happens to have something stuck and taking forever, and it happens to throw away almost a finished product and start all over again because we scratched it. And you know what? This is part of the process and we know that, so we don’t take it so seriously and just keep working.
What do you love most about what you do?
Turning ideas into reality! I believe this is what every designer loves about his job. Or at least this is the most invaluable part of it. Just image it – you want to have a clock for your office, but you want it to be a special one and you know it is almost impossible to find this particular one anywhere. Ok! I don’t need to search for it, I have my workshop and I have the opportunity to make it myself. This is precious!
Second, this is the appreciation of people who order from us. I appreciate every our customer, and I appreciate their trust in us. And our job is to justify this trust. As we like to say – nothing leaves the workshop unless we know you’ll love it!
Is there anything you dislike about it?
How would you describe your design style?
Smart and minimal. I like simplicity and believe that often times less is more. And I also believe we are doing well in combining wood and contemporary style.
What kind of materials do you often use in creating your lamps?
Lime wood. It is light but strong, and it is beautiful.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
This is a good one! I consider the biggest challenge in my work is staying on focus. Let me give you an example. Imagine you have two options for advertising this week, and you have a big order to complete, and you want your new business cards ready by the end of the week but you are still not sure about the design. And both marketing opportunities are good. And this is not a very intense week at all, but you should think about reaching your goals. And what is hard sometimes is taking decisions when you are not sure which one is the right one. And you only know what is right or wrong when you make it. But for me this is so intriguing, it is like a game, and I like playing it.
On the other hand, issues like undelivered packages, troubles with payments or suppliers, this is again part of the work. And when you know that hard days will eventually come every now and then, you are already prepared to overcome them. Amat Victoria Curam (Victory loves preparation).
Where do you find inspiration?
In successful people. I admire every person that ever achieved success either in business or sports or politics. My idol is Henry Ford for his creative genius, innovative think and understanding of people.
What tips can you give on how to choose the right lighting fixture for a room?
Personally, I would like to have some nice contrast in the office, and creativity at home. For both reasons you can have one of our lamps. And a clock is always welcome to any space, too!
Your message to customers and friends.
Thank you everyone who ever supported Paladim in any way. Either by making an order, spreading the word or just giving a friendly tip on the shoulder. Appreciated.
Thank you Paladim Handmade!
Watch this video of the making of the “Kran” desk lamp: