John Farrugia is 81 years old, but he’s not letting age stop him from perfecting his craft and passion; neon sign making. He explains how he started in this line of business in 1952, when he was only 16 years old.
“We started doing signage because we used to import from Italy and some of the signs would arrive broken,” he explained. “So my boss got skilled Italians to teach us. That’s where I learnt the art of neon.”
John’s craft quickly grew into a family business, and now, his son Manoel and his grandson Nathaniel are helping him taking things to the next level. “My grandfather has been doing this for 60 years, my dad has been 45 years in the business, and I have been doing neon for 14 years,” Nathaniel explained. “I studied law at University, but after one year working as a lawyer, I decided to focus full time on the family business.”
The company John originally worked for was liquidated in 1975, which was the perfect opportunity for John and his son Manoel to buy machinery from the company and start afresh. The new start came in the form of Neonglow Signs, a company which has designed some of Malta’s most iconic neon signs, including Bay Street, Havana, the Dragonara Casino and the Airport Departure’s Agenda bookshop.
The short video about John’s family business was shot by Casumo, who had the opportunity to work with the legend himself on their new awesome space, The Odditorium. “It’s the company restaurant and eatery,” Casumo explained. “But it’s also a Social Club with everything from board games, ping pong and pool. We’ve also got a huge screen that we use for anything from streaming talks to late night Playstation Towerfall tournaments.” Clearly, an awesome space like that deserved only the best when it came to signage.
Apart from getting a large following of admirers, the three generations of neon sign makers also received heartwarming congratulations by other members of the Farrugia family, further proving the point that this might very well be Malta’s coolest (and cutest) family.