The owners of FIXT Electric Co. have taken the esoteric art of industrial salvage to a whole new level: traveling from Minneapolis to Russia in search of Soviet-era and Bauhaus light fixtures. On their inaugural trip late last year to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Nate Jackson and Taylor Kaszynski scored a bounty of vintage industrial fixtures, including Ukrainian mining fluorescents, Russian military bunker pendants, Moscow subway lights, and much more—more than 50 styles in all.
Why Russia? Buyers of vintage industrial-style lighting, drawn to the robust design, cast aluminum, and aged patina of these decades-old fixtures, have gobbled up U.S. supplies, leaving salvagers like Jackson and Kaszynski scrambling for fresh hunting grounds. “We tried to find a place where European companies weren’t salvaging,” Jackson says. “It’s easier to find industrial lighting and salvage in Russia since it’s outside the EU.”
Despite previous experience in architectural salvage and vintage furniture sales, the two spent better than a year plotting this buying trip and making contacts with the right people. “Salvagers and scrap guys,” says Jackson, including a family of gypsies from Siberia. Still, they knocked on a lot of doors and ended up in “very interesting places in the bowels of Moscow. We went in there a bit naïve, which put us in situations out of our comfort zone. But it was fruitful.”
Fruitful indeed. They had hoped to salvage and purchase 500 fixtures, but after a month-long buying spree, they ended up shipping more than 3,000 home to Minneapolis.
FIXT has been open for business since January 1, selling restored industrial chic, built-to-last, cast-aluminum fixtures to commercial and residential designers and homeowners. The company provides full restoration, blanket UL certification, and vintage light repair. But that rust? All part of the vintage mystique. “When we see rust, we see patina,” he says. Restored FIXT lights are professionally lacquered to preserve their authentic patina.
Jackson and Kaszynski have sold Ukrainian mining pendants to a Fargo bank—explosion-proof, red-caged lights. They’ve customized vintage lighting for a theatre in Chicago, Maeve’s Café in Northeast Minneapolis, and for Machine Shop, an event space designed by Cuningham Group in the St. Anthony Main neighborhood that will open this summer.
Demand for these industrial chic fixtures, lighting up kitchens, coffee shops, bathrooms, and breweries, is keeping FIXT hopping. Jackson and Kaszynski are already contemplating another buying trip to Russia and elsewhere to meet demand. “We’re out for adventure and art,” says Jackson. Browse their offerings online or by appointment at the Northeast Minneapolis shop.
By Chris Lee
Photos courtesy of FIXT Electric