Sunset Park Sculptor’s Algorithmic Candles Evoke Nature, Geometric Forms

The achromatic candles by sculptor Andrej Urem evoke both bumpy surfaces found in nature and geometric patterns made by man.

“They’re very simple. They’re all mathematical algorithms but at the same time they have very feminine forms,” Urem said. “It’s not completely rational but at the same time it’s not completely organic, so it’s something in between.”

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Each all-natural soy wax candle passes through Urem’s hands 10 times before it’s finished. Hot wax is poured into a mold, degassed to remove bubbles, and then cleaned. A cotton wick is inserted in the middle and the candle cools for four hours.

The candles burn straight down through a cylinder in the middle, emitting a soft, lamp-like glow.

“You have a different play of light,” Urem said. “It’s like a little lantern.”

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Urem produces about 16,000 candles a year in his Sunset Park Studio and sells them at stores across the country, his online shop, and holiday fairs, such as the maker’s market at WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum. The candles cost $25 to $200, depending on size.

A sculptor by training, Urem emigrated from Croatia in 2001 to run a nonprofit organization that promoted Croatian art and culture. He started making candles five years ago in a 100-square-foot studio in Gowanus.

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“I started growing little by little, first in museum gift shops, and from that point, I exported to 20 to 30 countries in Europe,” Urem said. “It was easy from my sculpting point of view. I was thinking maybe I should establish myself with a business that can support all the other things I love to do, and I was just completely drawn into this business.”

Urem started with six candle designs, and now produces about 30. He plans to expand his business, the Andrej Urem Collection, over the next year by adding lines of ceramics, jewelry and lamps.

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[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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