ROMANIA - Dorin Ştefan is surely one of Romania's most popular architects. Although he can look back on a career spanning over twenty years and has been working on large-scale architecture for some time, an aura of youth and alternative thinking surrounds him. That image is probably due to the fact that he is still willing to take risks and even to produce failures, rather than take the commonly accepted paths, like the new-found traditionalism or comfortable neo-modernism that shape most of today's architectural production in Romania. He runs the DSBA practice together with his wife, architect Anda Ştefan.
Dorin Ştefan was born in 1950 and graduated from the Ion Mincu Architecture Institute in 1975 (PhD in 1999). He is now a professor at the same school, as well as a practising architect. He started his office, DSBA, in 1990.
Ştefan Ghenciulescu: I remember that some time ago you told me that you weren't afraid of fashions in architecture; moreover, you thought that fashion was a way of reinventing and adjusting to changing reality.
Dorin Ştefan: Yes, indeed. Fashion sometimes has a negative connotation and many regard it as a marginal phenomenon of 'Culture'. However, to me, fashion is an extraordinary stimulus in culture; it often triggers the avant-garde. In essence, fashion is a sensitive and rapid reaction to social and cultural changes. Fashion (not only in clothes) would not be efficient if it did not stimulate and find its resources inside society.
ŞG: When you look back over your career, don't you ever find terrible contradictions between old and recent work?
DŞ: No, never, because I have never been attached to, say, postmodernism, to that utterly affirmative return to the traditional vocabulary. This is also related to the Romanian context: it may have been Romania's misfortune, Bucharest's in particular, to know the postmodernist style only through the despicable products of the Ceauşescu era. All I was saying was that I like fashion and am alert to it. However, I never adopt it immediately. Between fashion and my own work there is an interface, a filter that excludes the ephemeral. This is chiefly possible because of the gradual progression from design to the building itself, which allows for reflection on and maturation of initial ideas.