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— 28.05.2020
Interview with Alexandra Razina, head of small creative projects at Blank Architects

- Why the Blank Architects has decided to organize the new Department of small creative?
The Department was created primarily because Blank Architects had sufficient experience and expertise to develop art projects. In addition, the daily Moscow’s life has become actively filled with cultural events, and the growth in quantity and quality in this area can not be overlooked. People's emotions have become one of the most important things in the world. We are also interested in cross-cultural projects. Our love for art, interest in people, and involvement have begun to find expression in the significant cultural and social sphere that our department is developing.

- How is your personal expertise applied in the Department?
As the head of this department, I went through a long career path, received additional education abroad and in Russia, and implemented a number of projects, including in the field of creative design – at the British School of Design in Moscow and in the Parsons School of Design on the Art Interiors course in New York. I realized that it would be great for Blank Architects to deal with interesting tasks at the intersection of architecture and art not from time to time, but on a regular basis. That’s how the idea of creating a department for the small objects of creative design was born.

- What objects will the new department create?
We will be engaged in design projects of interiors, structures, and small buildings related to culture and art and implying a non-standard approach. It is important for us to create an idea or a story, regardless of the function or purpose of the object. If we talk about typology, these are, for example, spaces for small businesses - cafes, bars, kiosks, holiday homes, as well as temporary structures, pavilions, so-called iconic objects. The department will also oversee interior designs for boutiques, department stores, including storefronts and galleries, museums, exhibition displays. In addition, our work will cover objects of street and park design, both urban and commercial, temporary pop-up structures, and perhaps we will develop the direction of set design for festivals, concerts, and fashion shows.
It is important that we value the meaning and emotional component in our work. We strive for dramatization, performance more than for solving global issues. With the help of quick-running small temporary projects, our idea can be formed and implemented and will immediately pass the test of relevance. Such objects can be a part of major architectural projects. The new department is a part of the Blank Architects environment, which is constantly searching of something relevant and inspiring.

- Are there any already implemented works of the department?
We already have several department stores that don't look like standard commercial spaces. They combine several brands with one creative idea and different leisure components. These are, in particular, our projects for Trend Island and Telegraph, a small adult store FAQ with an artistic subtext of the shopping space. We have also implemented several special projects for architectural exhibitions over the past couple of years, which are remembered by visitors – for example, on ArchMoscow. My personal portfolio also includes a set design for an opera and an immersive performance in the space of the Flakon design factory. Such tasks go beyond architecture alone, and we like this: we think it is important to erase the boundaries between adjacent areas and just allow professionals to work in the creative field as a whole, without strict limits. This freedom can have a beneficial effect on the environment in the bureau.

  • How will you interact with other departments on projects? Will something change in the work of the bureau's specialists?
    We plan to work closely with other departments of the bureau. Many of our tasks intersect with the work of interior design departments and the competition department. Often, within the framework of a single project, for example, creating a shopping space or common areas in residential complexes, expertise is required in the aspects of pop-up, object design and art. Together with the competition department, we plan to participate in various competitions and awards. The department of development and search for new projects is now our most active ally. The social aspect is also important – we plan to take part in exhibitions and cultural events more oftep>

- How many people now work in the department and has anything changed in the conditions of remote work?
Currently, the department does not have permanent employees: we attract colleagues from other departments to solve specific tasks, turn to private specialists for project activities, not only to architects, but also to professionals from cross-fields – we work with artists and directors. We also plan to expand: the global situation has somewhat slowed down the recruitment process, but as soon as the work returns to the regular basis, we will definitely make offers to young architects who are interested in joining the bureau.
In the home office environment, our interaction and reporting remain the same. However, project activities are changing: there are interesting ideas for joint projects with galleries – for example, to recreate the interiors of museum exhibitions using VR and AR technologies. This is a very interesting and popular niche for the architectural activities today. We also actively participate in competitions: we have more free time now, and competitions for us are the projects where we can show your our own imagination and just dream.