One day in late August my wife, daughter and I were driving on some getting-ready-for-the-first-year-at-school business, listening to the jabber on a talkative radio. One ad was about the glamour of flying first class. They offered whatever you wanted — service, comfort an total happiness. At the end of the pompous speech they said something like: «…take your seats in the first class…». Alisa picked up a familiar collocation out of the sound stream and added: «Yeap, I’m looking forward to the first class! It’s so great there!»
I deliberately didn’t get down to writing the editor’s column until 1 September, when Alisa Harshak started her first year at school. A new big epoch began in our family life. And, truth to be told, this has been the most important business to me lately. Neither publications and designer projects nor even teaching excite me as much as the beginning of Alisa’s first year at school.
I sometimes happen to hear that work and self-actualization are supposed to be men’s primary duties, a man is a breadwinner and so on, while Kinder, Küche, Kirche are a woman’s destiny. To cut a long story short, each time I’m surprised at the still existing vast number of patriarchial gender roles followers. Of course, I should be thankful for my job — whichever project I take up, it’s interesting to me. And, undoubtedly, I enjoy what I’m doing. I may not seem to be into my projects completely (forgive me, customers!), but somehow there’s no question about priorities. Any event in my daughter’s life is a hundred times more interesting than the most exciting labor feat.
There’s no escape from labor feats either, anyway. Now here’s a real challenge — to remain highly enthusiastic while doing projects, at the same time keeping up with all interesting events within the family. And I seem to have found the solution. I have no idea of how flexible it is, but it fits me. As it happens, the more time I spend with my family and friends, the more I manage to do at work. There is every indication that time compression surprisingly exists. As it sometimes happens with a bookshelf: there’s no room to push one more volume into it, but no, the books somehow gather up, and you can put one more album into the row. The same is about projects. I wonder: where is the limit? Where is the point when you start to refuse the offer because because you simply don’t have a free minute on your schedule? I haven’t reached this desperate point yet and still get up to any endeavour. The most important point is that you run projects that make you cheerful, and that’s not just for making money. And I’m already thinking of turning Alisa to publishing, seeing that here she might find what fits her, no matter what she chooses — texts, illustrations or even managing a business process.
In short, you should see that none of the projects make up for the time spent with family and friends. Intercommunication with people you love provides such an energy boost, that you start developing any project at an incredible speed. My world view has easily combined both the job and the private, and one doesn’t interfere the other, but, vise versa, provides an extra impuls, which I’m wholeheartedly wishing you as well!
Projector № 2(27) 2014
After summer holidays Projector № 27 has come out. This issue had been «under construction» for longer than usual. This was connected with a lot of simultaneous endeavours and projects, but it all finally was OK. And the new issue has already arrived from the printing office.
The issue begins with Pavel Ulyanov’s series about the great Italians of the ХХ century. This time the protagonist is Franko Albini. «The holder of most prestigious architectural awards and titles, maestro Albini died in the autumn of 1977. His priceless contribution to the development of national design school of Italian master’s individual styles was to have created floating in the air objects, whose graceful constructions overcome gravity. In 2007 Franko Albini’s works were considered Italian national heritage».
Speaking further of «Personofication» project, there comes an exclusive interview which Ralph Schraivogel gave to Projector while visiting Saint-Petersburg: «What is graphic design? As I see it, visual language exists because we can’t define some things in a verbal way — this is when a system of visual images can help us.
I became a graphic designer because I loved drawing and painting when I was a child. I studied best examples of Swiss graphic design school. Nowadays I think they are not so boring as they seemed in my twenties. I started working as soon as I got a degree, different commissions appeared, but after a couple of years I got fed up with it, and being paid remained the only pleasure. However, that moment I wasn’t enjoying the job any more. Recalling the reasons why I’d taken this all up, I started searching for a drawing and painting niche in graphic design, and it seemed that making posters was the likeliest thing I wanted to do. I started looking for an overlap point of typography and painting in a poster».
This time the project «Lettering» is assembled completely in memorium of Ilia Zdanevich as this is the year of his 120th anniversary. Mihkail Karasik presented the historical part: «We know from the Talk of Leonid Lipavsky and Kharms, that Kharms was born out of caviar which had almost been spread onto a piece of bread. However, it’s not exactly this way. Kharms, and, more exactly, his wonderful story stems from another legend — a clownish autobiography of Ilia Zdanevich he put into Iliazd: «in the morning one more trouble came up — it turned out I’d been born toothy and intended to chew meat instead of suckling». Zdanevich hoaxes his own death as well, putting it fifty years ahead. In the drama lidantYu fAram, which we’ll talk over a bit later, he points out the dates of his life to a precision of a couple of years: 1894–1973. The last Russian futurist Daniil Kharms, following the exhisting tradition and keeping up with Zdanevich, makes play his own birth in a variety of literature ways. It’s worth mentioning here that both of them, however, in different time, got over Futurism, which Ilia Zdanevich had been closely related to (and, in the manner of Marignetti, introduced this term in 1912, while Burlyuk, Mayakovsky and Khlebnikov still considered themselves Avenirists). We won’t blame Daniil Kharms of brain-picking, as the text of Iliazd was written in Paris and performed 12 May, 1922, in a small restaurant Hubert during Zdanevich’s «speech about myself». Especially for the speech he had designed a radical litigraphic poster — kind of a mockery of typesetting. The poster, as they tradiyionally used to, had a short summary of the performance, which means the biography of «Iliazd, nicknaned Angel…» (Iliazd is the combination of Ilia Zdanevich and Iliad). This is when Iliazd, one more Zdanevich’s nickname, became not only the character of his works, including the novel Philosophy (1930), but also the name which would make him a world-famous artist and a great publisher».
Next, Mikhail Karasik tells about his own work dedicated to Iliazd’s art: «In order to decorate lidantYu fAram, they used absolutely everything the typecase had: types, pre-fabricated type decoration elements, lead. The words, assembled in different typefaces, turn the page into a typography painting. Above the illegible text — akUstik bEizis ev rAiting — there are disproportionally big page numbers, put in different positions, so that they penetrate the structure of the words and form surprising figures. Zdanevich suggests that the reader follows the paging, turning page after page and feeling that figures acquire new implication. The eye tries to identify the words, but this is not easy to do as the SOPHISTRY doesn’t surrender. The accents on the two-page openings are constructed of huge capital letters, organized of repeated elements: squares, circles, ornaments».
And, to sum up Iliazd, we list the subjects of the best works shown at the international poster campaign Zdanevich120, organized by Sergei Serov: «It all started two years ago with Rodchenko 120, last year went on with Mayakovsky 120, and this year — Ermilov 120 and Zdanevich 120. All the campaigns participated in Moscow international biennale of graphic design Golden Bee. They are developing the subject started at the previous biennales with the nominations «Russian avant-gard» and «Futurism 100». Russian avant-garde is the unique event in art and design history, which is worth being proud of. This is the main Russian input into the world visual culture of the XX century».
For the «Object» I’ve interviewed two Finnish designers in love with Russia — Aamu Song and Johan Olin. They’ve travelled all over Russia and presented the project Secrets of Russia, in terms of which produced new designer products in a traditional environment.
Mitya Kharshak (M.K.): Aamy, you come from Korea, so it’s probably easier for you to compare the Finns and the Russian «from aside». Do we have much difference and much in common?
A.S.: Yes, you’re quite different.This is simular to the difference between the Germans and the Dutch. They differ, but interlink. Quite a big difference is that the Russians enjoy cooking, but the Finns don’t.
M.K.: What do the Finns like? Design, probably?
J.O.: To create privacy. We are able to be alone, in solitude.
A.S.: Sure. A peaceful hermitage in the forest. This is, I guess, a more Finnish feature. Russia is «buahaha!», cooking a soup together and drinking.
J.O.: Among other, we’ve learnt a lot due to culture disparities and our poor Russian. The first response of a Russian is often «No!», but don’t take it literally, as sush a response often becomes the beginning of an interesting talk. As a rule, having eaten and dipped a bill together, you come to «Yes, of course!». And then you accompany each other doing something.
A.S: Russian «No!» often means «I wanna talk to you! Ask me questions», while the Finns don’t talk at all. They ask for an e-mail.
M.K.: Anyway, there is something common with Russia, isn’t there?
A.SА: Mushrooms! Kidding. Actually, there are lots of traditions and crafts, especially in the north-west part of Russia, similar to the Finnish ones. Felting, birchbark works.
M.K: Do the Finns know much of Russia?
A.S.: I hope they’ll never do! Because this is «My Russia». I’m not Finnish, but I’ve lived there for sixteen years. But — Russia is an amazing country! So, if they find out how cool Russia is, it’ll get overcrowded with tourists. I don’t want this. We couldn’t believe ourselves for a long time how fabulous life in Russia is.
As part of the fourth Saint-Petersburg week of design the exhibition «Art of light», organized by the lighting company Artlight, in the exhibition hall of the Guild of Designers on the Moyka river embankment the project Art of light has been held. Its conception was to display custom-made designer objects which, as a rule, exist in a unique copy. These ones exist in two discourses at a time— art and design, being an example of functional sculpture or an interior object which is able to become the main feature of the room.
Pavel Ulyanov keeps telling wonderful stories about the items of his vast collection. This issue reads about the armchair Ax by Peter Hvidt: «In 1915 Fritz Hansen company mastered timber bending by steaming and started serial production, striving for cooperation with industrial designers. One of them was Peter Hvidt — the architect who had studied at Kopenhagen College of Applied Arts to be a cabinet-maker and later on established his own studio in 1942».
Filipp Kondratenko tells us in the project «Environment» about one of the outstanding architects of Leningrad school — Sergey Speransky: «When, in the epoch of construction sector dictatorship, Speransky became one of the leading architects of the city, he accepted the challenge of the time. Looking at his works, we can feel they match, though not fully due to the circumstances, the spirit of old Saint-Petersburg — «not historically formed, but classically designed», as Sergey Speransky used to emphasize», — in a pietistic way writes the senior editor of the magazine Baltic Project and one of the exhibition curators Vladimir Frolov in the covering article for the catalogue. «The architect and his associates managed to start a unique and incomparable to West-European equivalents (and local ones, actually) phenomenon of classicistic modernizm, where an art shape doesn’t follow the function, and the space has a leading role. This is what “Leningradian school’s” historical implication is».
Dmitry Blank and I have interviewed the famous Italian architect Claudio Silvestrina, who’s visited Saint-Petersburg for the Design Week: «What’s the difference between the Pyramids (or the Colosseum in Rome, or gothic cahedralls) and modern architecture? Everything used to be constructed for a human and their soul. Everybody would consider it — something existing but untouchable, so the construction approach was absolutely different: buildings were put up for a human and their inner conditions. And nowadays everything is constructed for the body, that’s what I want to say somehow. I’m still thinking of the soul. I wonder about the antique, ancient architecture. While working, I’m trying to think a human isn’t just a cover, but also a soul. You must have trembled, and not once, entering a church. This has an explanation: this is space, geometry and shapes speaking to your soul. We lack this nowadays, that’s why I strive for approaching it».
The project «Photography» presents the works by the master Sergey Podgorkov from Saint-Petersburg, formely Leningrad: «In the beginning, photography used to be just a hobby for me. I worked at factories and then shifts as a naval electrician, which allowed to earn on the side. This is how I became an electrician in the Hermitage, where I often peered into Little Dutch Masters’ canvases. I suddenly came up with the idea that nothing has changed since then: daily routine of ordinary people in the pictures is a painted «photographic coverage». So, one might say, Dutch paintings consciously encouraged me to shoot. At the time I mostly «dwelled» outside, always with a Zorkiy camera in my pocket. I started shooting a lot. The Hermitage had taught me composition — if you actively study canvases, you undoubtedly pick up composition basics. Everything resembles of something, everybody mirrors somebody, being unique is almost impossible, and if it is, hardly any is likely to get interested in it. There should be «readable» generation links and experience succession, whereas being totally simular is impossible either, you’ll always have something of your own unless you copy unreflectively».
The project «School» opens with a big interview with Sergey Serov about Moscow Higher School of Graphic Design: «This is the system that is absent from here. We have educational premises, group spirit, the team of pedagogue designers. Vice versa, state education is based on a system, standards, objective principles, hours, disciplines, when it’s unimportant who the teacher is, but a lot of attention is paid to what is studied. Higher School of Graphic Design conception opposes the disciplinary approach, it stems from my thesis «We don’t have design but do have designers». Therefore we have author’s pedagogic which suggests the priority of the who: private subjecive experience and creative intuition of a teacher, but not the objective programs».
Now moving on to diploma design: «The degree works by students of the cabinet-making facultee at Higher Academic School of Graphic Design (HASGD) under the guidance of Kirill and Elena Cheburashkin made the strongest impression on me. Their projects’ quality has reached an absolutely European level for the past two years. I can easily imagine these students presenting the same works at the University of Aalto, where they’d greatly succeed. The only European students’ advantage is close connection with the industry, and serial production of the designes from course or degree works is not a rare thing. I want to believe the Russians will also keep up with this tendency soon. And even against the background of a generally high level I ‘d like to especially distinguish the presentation given and the amount of work done by Tonia Lantsova».
The project «Art» is completely dedicated to a new museum, which opened in Saint-Petersburg the previous season: «The first in the world Street Art Museum has opened in Saint-Petersburg. It’s situated on the grounds of the currently active resin-bonded laminate factory on the corner of Revolutsii highway and Industrialny avenue. Until this moment art-spaces used to open up actively in the centre of the city, so the fact that a new core of contemporary art has appeared on the periphery, claims of another, fresh approach to development ang gentrification of industrial areas in Saint-Petersburg. Projector has talked to the people who SAM (Street Art Museum) owes its birth and architectural concept to. Our interlocutors are: Dmitry Zaitsev (the resin-bonded laminate factory owner, who had the idea of the museum and then funded it) and Andrey Voronov (an architect, the co-founder of the bureau Les, the person, who created and has been developing the new museum space).
M.K.: So you decided to occupy the empty space, didn’t you? I’m trying to find out how you, a businessman, came up with the decision to sponsor contemporary art, which isn’t likely to be a profitable activity.
D.Z.: I had several motivations at a time. I have recently been rereading Crime and punishment. There is a moment when Svidrigaylov tells Raskolnikov: «…everybody wants air, air, air, sir… Above all!» It seems I lack fresh wind, and street-art is the wind, the real freedom.
Andrey Voronov: «We didn’t turn up our nose and weren’t going to intercept the Finnish architects’ project. We thoroughly studied its sketch and decided to create such a temporary space structure that, figurally speaking, tomorrow we could return to our Finnish colleagues’ project. What we did (and it’s very important!) doesn’t disturb the future fulfillment of the project by the winner of the contest. Filling the grounds with breakstone is just the first layer of some future pie. After that, one can cover it in asfalt or lawns, whatever they like. In fact, we offered a solution which could be further developed, but at the same time might be OK for an exhibition area. It’s big enough — around ten thousand square meters. Obviously, it’s quite expensive to create something serious, but it was the question of the design of the exhibition with the beginning and the end. We applied the solutions which not only could be modified, but also reconstructed. For example, the idea of containers, such a «second-hand» material that you can buy from the Internet for cheap and afterwards get rid of them with the Internet as well. In other words, the museum doesn’t make a loss at all. A couple of containers for sale might have got damaged, but in general it was all OK, which convinced the customer. We could also have purchased a lot of barrels — this is a popular article you can buy and then sell in a year, or use it to store something at the factory. We designed the environment out of these frozen and altogether marketable assets».
The entrance Arch is, probably, the only achitectural structure we allowed ourselves to put up on the given grounds. <…> As a certain histirical archetype transformation, this is, in our opinion, the perfect example of a contrast transition from classical (academic) art to contemporary (abstract), and in this case also street-art. In a paradoxical way the Arch combines and focuses in itself fundamental principles of the first and creative techniques of the second one. Customary symmetry and monumentality are synthesized with simplicity and ingenuousness. The mechanics of the form, fulfillment speed and predetermined result, which completely depend on the chosen «building material», have been opposed to the grace of decor, abundant details and adjusted composition. I guess, the ancient Roman architects would have been greatly surprised if they’d found out about just several hours spent on the construction of this very distant relative of the Titus Arch.