Podcast Accelerator Today – Conversations about art beyond art – guest Razvan Copoiu, CEO Signity

October 18, 2023

Listen to this episode here and to all Accelerator Today episodes here.


“When you walk into that place – be an art gallery, a museum – walk in, leave everything in behind, without any prejudice, without any preconceptions and let yourself be surprised. That’s all. You have to see what you feel when you see that work of art. And whether it will give you a taste, a feeling, a thrill, that’s what art and access to art is all about.”

The guest of this episode of the Accelerator Today podcast is Răzvan Copoiu, CEO of Signify Romania and 10 other countries in the South-East Europe region (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Republic of Moldova, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo) since August 2020. Răzvan has extensive expertise in B2B sales management of electrical and renewable energy equipment, industrial automation as well as software, IoT and Cloud solutions, as a result of over 20 years of experience and international exposure, in the energy and industrial sectors, both in the private and public sectors, in Romania and other European countries.


Andrei Breahnă: I am very pleased to talk to you today. Răzvan is a very good friend of the gallery. We have known each other for about 7-8 years. Would you share with us a few things about yourself and how you got interested in art?

Razvan Copoiu: Thank you for the invitation, Andrei. Maybe just a quick clarification for those who don’t know: Signify is the new name of Philips Lighting. Maybe some know that Philips was the first to actually put the Edison bulb on the market, made the first factory. Since the light bulb came into the world, Philips – and now with the Signify name – has been the market leader in everything that has to do with lightning.

Related to the art question, I don’t see the word “art”, but more the word “beautiful”. I like beautiful. To me certain things are beautiful. If they make me smile or make me feel good, I think that’s what art should be, basically, to make you think of more beautiful things, to be creative, come up with ideas and so on. Here we are talking about the art gallery area, but for me an art is also culinary art, for example, or car design art. In our collaboration, I can’t help but encourage any action that can be taken towards developing a desire to see art. I want my children to continue to see beauty and not just look at computers and mechanical things.


Andrei Breahnă: Without light we cannot see art and light is, from a technical point of view, a very important factor to enhance a work of art. I would like to ask you a question related to your area: How close is light to art or Signify’s business to art?

Over the years I have seen several projects in the area of architectural lighting, for example, and I have been extremely impressed by how practically the environment around a building changes with the lighting.

Razvan Copoiu: First of all, there is nothing without light. Darkness is defined as the absence of light. In an art gallery, if you don’t put a light on a painting or a sculpture, you don’t really see it. With no light, or a special light that can highlight certain aspects of that artwork, you won’t see any of those details that really create visual excitement. I think we have a minus in that respect.

Secondly, if we are talking about buildings or monuments and here Romania somehow, we have a lot to recover. There are many countries that have architectural monuments highlighted by light. In our country there are very few at the moment and it is our mission to do something about it.


Andrei Breahnă: I propose to discuss about the connection between art and the public: Why is art, or culture important to you as a business leader? Why is it important for art, or culture to be visible in a society still under development like Romania?

Razvan Copoiu: I believe that art is necessary, actually necessary, for society, to be able to dream, to be able to create, to be able to make something more beautiful. I think that without creativity, society cannot develop, humanity cannot develop, and that’s what art does.

Now I will make a parallel with business. In a business, Signify business, for example, we have a certain sales strategy. Every year we have to change something, because the people behind us, the “challengers” maybe copy the model, more or less, and change some things to be better than us, more competitive. So, we always have to identify innovation every year through an element that is our differentiator. Here’s the parallel: if we did the same thing – let’s say we built the same metal cube all the time, we would die, as a company. We have to do something new all the time. That cube has to be modified. In this case, a work or a sculpture or it has to be something new all the time. So art is necessary in order to create.


Andrei Breahnă: As long as we need creativity and want people to be creative, we should expose them to art. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to have works in our gallery that were directly related to light and that worked with light – for example the sculptures of Felipe Cohen, the Brazilian artist, who, through light and reflection, basically made the image produce a certain kind of effect.

And here I would like to make a small connection with another collaboration, namely the art subscription – Art Set project –  for companies. You have several works in your offices. How do you think, in the medium and long term, can the office mood be improved, let’s say, through art? Do you think it is possible? We are relatively early in this project, although we have, at the time of writing, over 200 works in various offices. Do you think it can have an impact in terms of changing the atmosphere or even in a post-pandemic context, to create a different kind of spirit or a different kind of organisational culture, even in an office context?

Razvan Copoiu: There are several aspects here.

First of all, we’re talking about the art subscription program, because light has always been part of the creative act with a role in highlighting art, and for us it has been the perfect fit. Event when clients come to our office, we show them something related to light. We chose the collection of paintings and that abstract sculpture precisely because of the idea of how light highlighted that artwork. There were some paintings that had shadows related to how light falls on certain bodies. We have reflectors in the office that specifically highlight those paintings that we put on the walls. We combined the business and the art side. First – we highlight with our equipment those works of art. Second – the customers have the opportunity to see something more than a technical equipment, i.e. they are also aware the importance of that technical equipment.

At the same time – the employees. Many companies, and ourselves, of course, are looking to make the environment as friendly as possible for colleagues, to be able to have efficiency in a pleasant environment. The cubicals of the old days are long gone. Now, we have open space, they put nice colours, greenery on the walls.

However, if you bring in creation, not necessarily nature, the impact is greater, because you feel that your life is a little more than coming to an office, seeing a computer walls and glass. I think, apart from the client side and actually highlighting our business strategy around light, we’re also just showing colleagues that they can work in an office a little bit differently.


Andrei Breahnă: I would like to come back to another related area, namely education, more specifically, mentorship, because we are doing this podcast series in the context of the Accelerator mentorship program, which I see as a form of applied alternative education, with the main objective of creating a much more direct connection, for the artist, between the theoretical side – university, postgraduate studies and the idea of living from practice.

How do you see this idea of mentoring in the business area, for example? What is the paradigm of mentoring, personal development, in your industry?

Razvan Copoiu: First of all, congratulations for the Accelerator program. As I am part of or run a multinational in the lighting industry, multinationals have been concerned about this for a long time and I’m glad to see that it can happen in another field. It is truly remarkable. Going back to the part of what a multinational does about mentoring – it’s simply a transfer of knowledge. Because when someone new comes into the company, with less experience, generally, but not only, they need first of all a “Buddy”, a colleague to show them how all the tools work and so on. Then, maybe a coach.

The coach has another purpose, namely to help him/her solve certain problems. But, the most important layer is the mentoring area, because when you come into a new organisation, you need to understand how the organisation works and who the key stakeholders are – the main people you will work with. Only someone more experienced can explain these things to you. Otherwise, employees can learn the tools and ways of working themselves, but it will take too long. And today speed is the most factor in the life of a company.

The benefits of the mentoring program are clear. Those who go through a mentoring program are even more quickly promoted and because they know exactly what they need to do faster and more efficiently.


Andrei Breahnă: I have one last question. Because we’re coming to the end, about the public interest in art. I am grateful for the support you, Signify, have given us for so many years, but also for the interest you have in our exhibitions. And you come to all our exhibitions and that is for me, the most important thing. What would you say to someone to spark their interest in art? What advice would you give them, so that people come more and more to art galleries, art museums and come more and more into contact with art.

Razvan Copoiu: It’s a pretty difficult question, because art is really being pushed aside lately. There’s a lot of visual means, there is the online and people stay there. Let’s put it another way: for every person, there is a moment in time when they are ready and open to access art. Should they say no, perhaps the time hasn’t come yet. No matter how hard you try to push this, that person is not going to like it or won’t be open to it. Maybe, at some point, the person will be open. The timing is important. But, if I had to give a piece of advice, I would tell them: when you walk into that place – be it an art gallery, a museum – walk in, leave everything behind, without any prejudice, without any preconceptions and let yourself be surprised. That’s all. You have to see what you feel when you see the work of art. And whether it will give you a taste, a feeling, a thrill, that’s what art and access to art is all about.