Russian Designer Spotlight

Industrial Designers Club

Unlike Russian fashion designers whose growing influence on the international fashion stage can hardly go unnoticed, Russian industrial and product design is still largely uknown to the world. However, in recent years we've witnessed the surge of talented young designers who reinvent traditional Russian aesthetics, question existing methods, find new solutions, and bring Made in Russia label to the front. We spoke with Tatyana Veryovkina, the curator of the Russian Industrial Designers Club about the present and future of Russian product design.

Tell us about IDC (Industrial Designers Club). What exactly do you do and how did it all start?

We’re a not-for-profit organisation which develops, supports and promotes industrial design in Russia. We're commited to creating a competitive environment in our industry and introduce Made in Russia label to the world. We also want to make this label more attractive both to international and Russian customers so one of our main goals is to reinvent unique Russian style. IDC brings together interior and product designers, architects and manufacturers, some of them have been around for many years, while others have only just started. We kicked off in 2014 with 4 designers, and now there're over 40 companies in our club.

Tell us more about the members of the club.

They are young, up-and-coming designers, craftsmen and furniture makers who produce and design original interior design objects and promote Made in Russia brand. Some of them like Archpole have a small-scale mass production, while others produce exclusive handcrafted objects. Many of our members draw inspiration from Russian history and culture, be it the traditional Russian wood carving techniques, Russian avant-garde, or even the ubiquitous Soviet concrete fences. 

How would you describe the current industrial design scene in Russia?

I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, there's a boom of furniture, light and home accessories production in Russia. More and more companies pop up every year pushing the boundaries and bringing new ideas and trends to the market. But there’re also other segments where, alas, we don’t see any large-scale changes.

Could you point out what defines Russian product design today? What does Made in Russia mean today?

I believe that Russian industrial design is more soulful. Every item created by our designers tells a story. The Made in Russia label has long had purely negative connotation in Russia and beyond. Russian-made products were considered vulgar, gaudy and low-quality. One of the reasons we created this club is to break this stereotype. And, I'm glad to say, we can see the changes that have taken place. People began to trust and value this label.

Personally, I’m proud of the Made in Russia marque. I want to wear clothes by Russian designers and sit on a stool designed and produced in Russia. And I can see that many people begin to feel the same way about it.

What are the latest trends in Russian industrial design?

Ecodesign. Natural materials, traditional Russian building techniques of joining wood without nails or glue, upcycling leather, metal, wood shavings and other materials which used to be thrown away. Also, there’s a shift towards simple lines and natural colours, dominated by white, black and natural wood.

Tell us about your favourite objects produced by contemporary Russian product designers?

My absolute favourites are TK Workstudio's pedestal Yesenia which was named after my daughter, and also Archpole's inventive lamp stool Naturale Soft, Devi's bedside table Lightning with natural high voltage discharge pattern, Tomov Workshop's avant-garde table Grani, Watch&See's megaphone-shaped lamp Sat-Sat, and finally Woodled's minimalist wooden chandelier Synchrotron. You can easily look them up either on IDC's or on the companies' websites. 

If you could bring one item produced by Russian product designers home, what would it be?

I’d go for one of PLY's stools. They're flat-packed, light and easy to transport.

Tell us about the projects run by IDC?

We host a huge array of events, from exhibitions, talks and conferences to field trips and workshops. Over the years we've put together an extensive programme which includes our very special Design Descent when we go to other Russian cities, immerse ourselves in the city's design life, its manufacturing facilities, studios and creative spaces. Also, it's a good excuse to get out there and see the rest of the country. We've already made it to St Petersburg, Vologda, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Chelyabinsk and Volgograd. We get to know local industrial designers and hold joint talks and workshops. Design Descent involves not only professional community but also locals interested in art, design and urbanism. So do join us if you're around! We also have Design Picnics where we meet up with the friends of the Club in an informal setting, Design Visits when we attend exhibitions and other events held by other organisations, Furniture Fairs where you can buy our designer furniture, Industrial Design Festivals where you can learn about new Russian industrial design brands, join one of the many workshops and design your own item. Apart from that, there're also IDC Speaks Lecture Series where the members of our club talk about their career paths and how they started their businesses, and Open Meetups where you can visit the manufacturing sites and designers' studio and meet the designers and manufacturers.

Where should we go to see Russian product design in Moscow and other Russian cities?

Come to the events of our Club! There’s also WoodWorks salon held every May and SaloneSatellite in September, both are in Moscow. Many other Russian cities have regular Design Weeks where you can meet local designers and learn about their brands.

What are your plans for the near future? Where should we go to see you guys and your products?

We'll be opening our own Design Library in June which is going to house IDC headquarters and also our showroom. It's located at 7 Polimernaya St., bld. 2, not far from Novogireevo metro station. Come visit us!