Meet the founder of the French upcycled lighting brand Up&Bo

The first time I saw the upcycled pendant and table lights from French brand Up&Bo, founded by Géraldine, was at the Festival of Innovative and Durable Toulouse (Festival Toulouse Innovante et Durable) in 2022. The second time was at one of my favorite conscious shops here in Toulouse, L’Adresse Confidentielle. Whether Geraldine’s light fixtures are placed on a table or on a wall, turned on or not, you can’t help but be instantly drawn to their exquisite combination of modern and vintage design. I reached out to Géraldine to find out more about her story and her brand.

Hello Géraldine. What’s the story behind the launch of Up&Bo?

I have always been attracted to the world of interior design, been an active DIYer and an interest in creative tasks.

On a professional level, this is not the path I initially pursued, focusing instead on social work – which I still work in. There came a time when I felt the need to express that creative aspect [of my personality] more. I had to do something about it. After spending a lot of time dreaming about it, and imagining it, I made sure to turn it into a reality.

Lamps are part of this [creative] world. I was already creating some for the people around me. I had started accumulating many vintage glass globes because, from the start, it was while thrifting that I realized wanted to create something using existing pieces. I really liked the look of lamps, so I took the plunge in October 2021.

I started by registering the Up&Bo brand because I had that name in mind for a while. Up is for upcycling and I liked the pun with Up and Go which creates a dynamic feeling [Bo means beautiful in French]. It was a name that had been motivating me and made me want to move forward [down this entrepreneurial path].

From there, I set up a company and followed a training program on how to make vintage lighting fixtures compliant with current regulations in order to offer lighting fixtures that meet today’s standards, to be able to do things correctly, and to sell a quality product. This is how I set up Up&Bo, the principle of which is the creation of lights, using upcycling as a basis.

Mainly, I update antique glass globes from chandeliers, sconces… lights from different eras. I am not focused on a specific time period. It’s more the object that I’m going to focus on, mentally removing its dust and its previous universe to imagine it in a more contemporary context, transforming it to let it shine.

What make you want to start a slow decor upcycled lighting brand? 

I really appreciate objects, materials, glass. Highlighting glasswork is very beautiful, with the light and shadow it provides.

Antique glass lighting pieces are beautiful, quality objects, often made by hand. Pieces that are no longer produced in the same way today.

It would be a shame not to reuse them. But, today, we need a light that is more suited to our interiors, that fits with today’s style and that also meets the [regulation] standards in our homes.

I bring these objects from the past, mainly glass globes, back to life so that they can be present with us once more, but adapted to our lives and styles today.

Photo de 4 différents modèles de luminaires vintage Up&Bo
Is sustainability something that resonates with you beyond what you do through Up&Bo?

Consuming more locally, more responsibly, in a more thoughtful way, and thinking about my impact on the environment at different levels is an approach that drives me more globally. I just went on a hiking holiday, going along the Canal du Midi from Toulouse. It was a great experience!

Up&Bo comes from a desire to develop a creative activity, but to do so in a meaningful way. So I did not start this project with something that is incompatible with ecology and our evolving consumption patterns. There has also been an acceleration in this direction with COVID, which has surely changed our mentalities.

My way of approaching the creative process is to be able to craft something beautiful and useful. A lamp is useful and has a strong decorative power, without [needing to have] too much of an impact on our environment. At the same time, the upcyling process highlights objects that already exist.

To stay in line with this approach, I researched the possibility of a local collaboration to create wooden pegs as wall supports for portable lamps. With @ericisacreations, we have created a model that is made from second-hand wood that used to be an oak floor.

That’s what makes sense to me and it’s really in this eco-friendly approach that I want to keep creating.

What drew you to lighting fixtures rather than other types of decor items?

I had a dad who was an electrician, so perhaps there’s something genetic to it?

I think bringing in light is a beautiful thing. Lighting is an important element in an interior. The ones I offer are more the type of lights that will bring warmth, a soul, a story.

I think that’s what attracted me to them. It’s both technical and aesthetic, so it allows me to use several skills. There is a material construction and, even though I have no hands in the ceramics, there is an assembly, a final rendering, and the idea of ​​being able to integrate the light into something else.

A light fixture is not an isolated object, it is an object that is integrated into an environment, a decor. I find that cool too.

What are your projects for Up&Bo in the coming months?

In terms of approach, I want to develop my tailor-made offering. One of the advantages of being a craftswoman, selling locally, is to be able to respond to this type of request. Quite often, when someone spots a light that they like, there may be a need to adapt it, like assembling it differently, using cable color… I’m very interested in this type of work and it adds a relational side to my work. Let’s not forget that I also have a social side that I have developed elsewhere. I find it very motivating to be able to start a project with someone, to meet their expectations, and create their own personalized lamp. This is something I want to continue to develop. And why not also go more towards working with interior designers and decorators who may need specific creations for projects or clients.

In terms of products, what is great is that I adapt as I go, because I started this project by diving in the deep end. From one point of sale, from one show, I go on to another, I meet a lot of people and that’s great. I love all these encounters.

At the Blagnac Christmas Market this past winter, I had several products on sale, and that made me think of another offering. The next day, because I had my idea in mind, I started making small lamps with a base. They can be placed, it is less restrictive than having to hang them on a wall. Small, simpler models that allow you to have a little vintage touch, always with an antique globe but which has been mounted on a base. Having tested this model at The Confidential Address store in December, I saw that people liked it so I am pushing this product forward to give it a chance.

I also plan to have a website presenting my brand. I have no immediate intention of selling remotely. For the moment, everything I do is on Instagram

Thank you for sharing your story and your passion for upcycled lighting with me, Géraldine!

Check out @upandbo on Instagram to see Géraldine’s latest luminous creations. You can also contact her by email for any custom requests.