Sometimes in life, dreams come true. I had a dream, inspired by a lamp I saw in a cafe in Italy, of having my very own lamp made from a bottle of Chablis, my preferred libation. Thanks to custom engineering by a Polish craftsman (in fact, a colleague’s father, who took it on as a charity project and carried out the works in the corridor of his Warsaw flat), my home-furnishing dream came to fruition.

It was a complicated logistics operation, beginning with me having to purchase, and consume, the Chablis in London (tough job) as it is not readily available in Poland. Two empty bottles – an official one and a back-up – along with parts from an existing, less interesting lamp from my home, were sent to Poland, where the assembly job took place. Once ready, the lamp made its way to London, from Warsaw via Skopje, and was hand-delivered to me at my office days before this issue of fDi went to press. In fact, I proofread many pages of this magazine under the yellow glow of the Chablis lamp.


Upon its arrival, my treasured object received mixed reactions from office-mates. But as I grandly announced in its defence: with a design inspired by Italy, components supplied by France, contents emptied in London, and the final product assembled in Poland, never mind the crumbling euro, here is a pan-European project of which to be proud.

Perhaps that is overstating the case a bit. But there is a point in there somewhere – and a point to this column, if readers were beginning to wonder. Many people questioned why I did not just find someone in London, where I live, to make the lamp, thereby avoiding all the shipping and transport issues. I admit there is a part of me that would not have liked the lamp as much did it not have a slightly ridiculous story behind it; but more than that, I just knew that producing it in Poland would give exactly the right outcome. Labour costs were low (zero); the production skills were reliable; and transport issues were manageable. When various factors are weighed up, producing locally often is not the best option. And that is why FDI, and outsourcing, will always make sense.

Where one chooses to outsource to is highly variable, but many times it simply comes down to cost, quality and existing relationships, regardless of distance – as illuminated nicely by the tale of my bright, beautiful new Euro-lamp.

Courtney Fingar is the editor of fDi Magazine. E-mail: