Today we’re gonna visit a picturesque corner of the Balkans, a small Montenegrian village, which is situated on the Adriatic coast.
It seems that life has stopped here togather with the collapse of Yugoslavia.
The vehicle fleet looks especially colorful: locals are driving on their rare Renaults, Zastavas and other Yugos. This corner is even more interesting because of the olive grove with a thousand-year history, where the workshop of our report’s hero was placed.
Mr. Choi is an artist with higher education working on wood, stones and horns, who was specialized in producing tombstones before. The activity isn’t entirely romantic, but completely satisfies the financial needs of our hero:
Choi: “Producing tombstones, I was set”.
In the dashing 90s, destiny brought Choi with Dmitry Perfenov, the famous St. Petersburg designer.
While working in the Parfenov studio, Choi took an active part in the process of creation of the armoured car Combat T98.
Later in Moscow, for seven years he was a part of the team of “Cardi” studio, where he was engaged in design of automobiles and bypasses.
It’s worth saying, that people who subsequently created the supercar Marussia and today’s pride of the domestic automobile industry — Aurus, came out of the “Cardi” studio.
In “Cardi” lot of work had to be done with own hands:
Choi: “The master of model was developing matrices and other things by himself, and was in shit from foot to head. In “Cardi” there was a rule: if you drew it yourself, do it yourself!”
From the beginning of 2000s Choi cooperates with the famous studio of Artemiy Lebedev.
Choi: “From the studio i dove into the virtual world, having become the art dir of “Rise and Flight”. We were working hard for three years. We managed to collect all the flight simulation rewards for the next few years. Afterwards we saved the L2 brand. From there I left straight to Montenegro.”
Choi’s familiarity with moto vehicles started due to his interest and passion to air simulators, for which he was drawing the details before. It’s worth noting, that our hero has never really operated motorcycles, exept for the moped Riga-13, which he had in his childhood.
After moving to Montenegro, Choi, as a technic designer interested in various mechanisms, got familiarized with Tomos mopeds, which was the most common brand in the Balkans.
They atrracted Choi’s attention from the point of design, details, construction simplicity and other ethtetic features:
Choi: “And then I was constantly looking at Tomos. I was impressed with their design. I went to study their history and stucked. And, when tried on the fly, the air simulator past turned on the synapses!”
Choi acquired his first Tomos moped on the occasion of the promenade near Podgorica Airport from an operational helicopter mechanic.
Further more! Chio was a regular resident at Irish-pub in Podgorica and had a friendly relationship with its owner. And during one of the heartfelt conversations they raised the moto theme, which resulted the acquaintance with the Montenegrian motocross chempion — Raiko Ivanovich.
He bacame a champion back in 1968, when Choi was not yet born, Brezhnev and Tito hugged, and Yugoslavia joined the Treaty of the Non-proloferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Now Raiko is aged, attends a moto raings where he is tuning the motors just before the race.
The matter is, that presently he is the best motorist in Montenegro. But the years take their toll, the power and energy are decreasing. That’s why after long conversations, the hero of our report got collection of Tomos mopeds – Ivanovich wanted to transfer it to the right person so that they would find a new life instead of rotting in the barn.
At the moment, Choi has 14 mopeds in his garage, 4 of them are in the process of customization. He deals with them in his spare time.
The process becomes more complicated because the lack of ecquipment — there is only a standart set of amateur tools and vistor in his garage.
A custom creation is not only a time-consuming business, but also a financial one, that slows down the working process. For instance: to fing a headlight for one of the mopeds took 200 euros and a month of time.
Mopeds are not being assembled for sale, it could be rather called a search of forms, self-awareness in handicrafts, improvement of the professional skills of mechanic, body builder, painter, seamstress, motorist, etc.
Choi is switcing details from one moped to another (gas tanks, frames, wings, engines), trying to find a middle ground for each of the projects.
The goal of the whole event is to assemble small motorcycles from mopeds with various stylistic features, so that they would get completed shapes and styles. They’ll be ready for sale.
But jolly Choi has a short conversation with his customers:
He says: “I don’t give a fuck about client’s desires.”
The working process has also a commercial project — a custom creation is sponsored by the customer.
The interesting condition of this event is that Choi creates the projects in his own way, and he doesn’t care about customer’s opinion.
All you have is trust the master!
Max: “Choi, where is the border between the customizing and village manner?”
Choi: “As a rule, village manner usually means a simulation of what you see, a set of unrelated details. Cheap, which wants to look rich. Creating a custom means creating something new on the basis of culture and canons.”
Thank you for your attention. To be continued.
Photos: Max Barkanov