Design and architecture festivals seem to be popping up around the globe faster than you can say 'design week' these days. One of the newest kids on the block takes place in Russia. Launched in 2010, Moscow Design Week (opens in new tab) had its second outing last week, luring guests and visitors from all over the world and casting its curatorial net far and wide.
'Moscow is a city full of incredible tension and provocation,' said German designer Ingo Maurer (opens in new tab) at the opening. 'It's a great source of inspiration.' A country of vast size, manpower and resources, Russia's potential is undeniably huge. At the moment though, it is taking its time to reconnect with its design heritage. 'We still lack in furniture production,' says Moscow Design Week director Alexander Fedotov. 'Young designers find it hard to make their work reality and we want to help change this. We organise lectures for them and through these we help introduce them to manufacturers.'
As such, organisers placed a huge emphasis on bringing in international design players - we saw work from the visionary Luigi Colani (opens in new tab)'s archives and trend expert Li Edelkoort (opens in new tab) put together an exhibition titled Organic Dwelling: Biomimicry in Design & Architecture. Meanwhile, the Made in Italy show, curated by Giulio Cappellini (opens in new tab), engaged the likes of key Italian manufacturers Flos (opens in new tab), Cassina (opens in new tab), Cappellini, Driade (opens in new tab), Poltrona Frau (opens in new tab), B&B Italia (opens in new tab), Agape (opens in new tab) and more.
Central to the happenings was a series of invited VIP participants' installations that were spread throughout the event's different locations under the 'Design Superhero' umbrella. These included work by Ingo Maurer, US-based Ron Gilad (opens in new tab) and Italian Jacopo Foggini (opens in new tab), whose bespoke creation offered a playful reinterpretation of the traditional Russian matryoshka doll.
Highlights from the Russian design scene included the Rodchenko (opens in new tab) 120 show, curated by vice president of Graphic Design Academy Sergey Serov, which displayed a series of posters inspired by the great artist's work on the occasion of his 120th birthday anniversary. Also on show in the same location - the impressively spacious Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art (opens in new tab) - was design work from young sister duo SashaDasha (opens in new tab).
Organised by the Art Trading Group (opens in new tab) - Fedotov is the group's director - the event has a dual role. A commercial side highlights famed design classics from abroad to Russia's growing design conscious audience, but the large-scale event is equally addressed to the wider public, providing a much-needed platform to promote design. 'Moscow has always had a strong design culture but we might have lost a bit of that quality during the USSR years. The aim of this event is to show how different design can be', says Fedotov. With events like Moscow Design Week flying the flag, there is no doubt that Russia has a dynamic creative future. Watch this space.
Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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