Andrei Sclifos: The Man Behind Yolka

“At first, there’s chaos. Multiply it, add some more chaos on top of that and then just sit back, look at it closely and start figuring out ways to bring some harmony into all that chaos.”

That’s how Andrei Sclifos, first year Masters Student at the University of Arts and Design in Cluj Napoca goes about his art and his work.

Modest as he is, not too many know that the young artist is also the founder of Yolka – one of Cluj’s most bohemian, special and interesting bars.

Just as interesting as the place itself is the man who founded it: Andrei Sclifos.

He opened Yolka when he was merely 18. During his 12th grade, in the winter exam session he got his hands on a book on how to open and run a café. Read the first 10 pages, got bored of all the theory and started scanning the city for a location. A few months later, on the 14th of October 2013, after having successfully passed the Baccalaureate exams and having been enrolled as a student at the University of Art and Design, he officially opened Yolka.

“Maybe if I had read more than 10 pages out of that book I could have avoided a lot of the mistakes I made in opening and running this place. But I do not regret a single one of them. I learned from them” Sclifos said smiling. The beautiful spot we now recognise as Yolka was once a little dusty apartment situated at Unirii Sqr 21 on a somewhat hidden second floor. “There was dust on the walls a few centimetres thick; the walls were painted in an unwelcoming shade of dark green, water was dripping from the ceiling – but beyond all that – I fell in love with the potential of the place.” He took the chaos and harmonised it into a spot for friends, lovers, families and solitaires alike.  

The design – unique, creative and highly worthy of an art student – might as well be a glimpse into Andrei’s memories. All those summers spent as a child on the banks of the Dniester River surrounded by ceramics and art, playing with clay in his father’s pottery workshop shaped him on a subconscious level into the artist he was to become. The memory of those restless, adventurous days stayed with him and fuelled his imagination throughout. And imagination was the very foundation brick of Yolka. The tree – the centrepiece of Yolka  (a metaphor for life perhaps) with roots growing in one room and the treetops coming out from the sky-resembling ceiling of the other, to the drawings of all flying things and creatures to the plant wall – each detail of the place has been thoroughly thought through. Not only did he with 3 other of his friends from art school paint the ceilings, but all other little works of art displayed around the place also belong to him, his father and his friends.

The name Yolka comes from the Russian word for ‘fir tree’. Andrei is a fluent Russian speaker and his decision to name the place Yolka that was as he recalls with a smile, based on the fact that he liked the sound of it and the meaning behind the fir tree itself: ever-greenness, vigorousness, briskness.

Other than Yolka, which could easily be seen as a piece of art in itself, Andrei is very passionate about his own art. He is into abstract and colours: “I always try to discover something, not necessarily something new – since all combinations are already taken – but i still try to make something, come up with a combination of colours that won’t leave the eye emotionless – I want the viewer to feel emotions – whether it is pleasing or deranging – as long as I can make him feel – I’m satisfied.” 

Modest, driven, eager, somewhat impatient; with a reassuring warm smile, funny, a bit nostalgic Andrei Sclifos is sure an interesting man. A ever curious student who’s about to engage in his second Erasmus experience, a former member of a rock band, a bar owner to one of Cluj’s most precious, an art aficionado as well as an artist himself – how often do you get to meet a more diverse yet intriguing palette?

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This post is also available in: Romanian

4 comments

  1. Salman Babazade Jr. says:

    nice 🙂

  2. Tasha says:

    I’m in love with the stories shared here and I’m glad I could find out who’s behind this absolutely amazing place.

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