Furniture designed by architects, rocking moose and eco-friendly 'scales': Made in Moscow brand brought together various designers

Furniture designed by architects, rocking moose and eco-friendly 'scales': Made in Moscow brand brought together various designers
10 Moscow brands will present their collections at one of the most high-profile international object design events.

This year, Made in Moscow collaborative brand took part in Maison & Objet for the first time. Held in Paris since 1995, it is one of the three most high-profile events for European designers. Made in Moscow booth brought together 10 manufacturers of modern and original furniture and home decor, which registered their companies on the Moscow Export Centre's (MEC) website and have been selected by the Expert Commission.

International and industrial trade fairs collaborating with the Made in Moscow brand are held regularly. Apply for any event on the Moscow Export Centre's website. Your company must be registered in Moscow for at least six months and have no tax arrears exceeding RUB 100,000. Website users also choose international and industrial trade fairs that are most attractive for Moscow brands and for Made in Moscow programme, during the annual online voting.  It was thanks to the choice of entrepreneurs that Made in Moscow joined Maison & Objet, which became one of the leaders of last year's voting.

Read in the article how the Moscow designers are to surprise the Paris audience, why participation in this international trade fair is so important to them and why they have decided to become entrepreneurs.

"Maison & Objet is a global design arena to make a statement"

Anna Sazhinova, Archpole

I was educated as an architect. Me and Konstantin Lagutin, the company's co-founder, studied at the Moscow Institute of Architecture. During our student years, we started creating different projects with our friends. As a result, we started our own architect firm. You know, the way certain spaces look largely depends on the furniture. So, architects often come up with furniture for specific rooms. We did it for one of our first projects: the building was made of logs, so the interior had to match, that is to be wooden, too. We failed to find a manufacturer to make special wooden furniture, but we wanted to implement that project so much that it made us start to experiment and finally produce this furniture on our own.

We rented our first carpentry shop, bought equipment and hired employees. And once we had it all, we strived to do something more. We produced our first non-customised items, all sorts of small accessories, such as pencil holders, hangers and brooches. It was the time street markets started to open in Moscow, and we looked for small decorative items to be made of wood. We sold them at these markets, made a name for ourselves to become quite popular soon, with magazines publishing articles about us, and various trade fairs inviting us to participate.

In 2010, after participation in several European trade fairs, we were invited to Maison & Objet in Paris to display our first furniture collection (the one that was made for the wooden house) in the booth of young designers. After we returned to Moscow, we took part in the Design Week to demonstrate the interior of an apartment with our furniture in an absolutely clean white space. This is when our brand started to develop. We made our furniture for our own architectural designs.

Maison & Objet is one of the biggest professional design and home décor trade fairs. This is a venue to meet with distributors who purchase our items and then sell them around the world, representatives of shops and galleries. It is a global design arena to make a statement.

Moscow Export Centre conducted a research to discover Moscow design brands. For MEC experts, it was important to watch how a particular product is produced, how we work on it. Finally, they have chosen several companies to meet their requirements based on a number of criteria. So, we are going to Paris to represent our Made in Moscow brand.

We have a nice team, we know each other well, as we are all members of the industrial designers club, established by our company five years ago. It was created to support the industry, to unite designers, arrange joint trade fairs, develop marketing and create a competitive industry. But so far, since exclusive design is not very popular, it is not about competition, but about collaboration. We support each other and share experience.

One of the Moscow libraries houses now our industrial designers club. Its reading room opened in early June 2018. We engaged in a joint project — we made exclusive renovations in a regular library in Perovo, with floor covering replaced, a wooden wall installed and ceiling removed. We filled that harmonised space with furniture made by modern Russian designers. Moscow authorities supported us. It was a pilot project of ours, and soon, such reconstruction is to take place in many Moscow libraries. This space is open to everyone — you can come here to work at the computer, listen to lectures on design, art and technology. There will be a coffee shop soon. Now it is both a culture centre of the district, and a design trade fair.

"We tried to do something truly unique, while remembering the national code inscribed in our design"

Natalya Sibileva, Belsi

The history of our family business company started eight years ago, when I realised that the common folding ironing board annoys me: it is bulky, ugly and impossible to hide behind the door. I came up with a built-in ironing board. My husband and I created a very successful prototype. Our friends asked to make them such a board, too. After that, we decided to launch a commercial production, having received a patent for this design. We met with the staff of Furniture Design Department of the Moscow Stroganov Art and Industrial Academy. Finally, we decided to keep on turning ordinary things into ergonomic ones.

 At Maison & Objet trade fair, we will present items from the Black Moon collection, in Art Déco style, but with Russian motifs included. Most often we work with plywood, by we decided to refine this material for the new collection. So, we have created a fundamentally new technology: masters carefully sand the 'moon' surface and oil it to look like old Russian artisanal processing, with items coarse but refined at the same time. We have also made a simple mirror kokoshnik, but we did not imitate decorative art, that is we did not paint kokoshnik to preserve its 'moon' surface. Specially for the trade fair, we engraved Pushkin's poem 'Beautiful Girl Looking in the Mirror' in French on the mirror's back.

We will also present a series of rocking animals for adults and children — Belsi Zoo. We have made not only common wooden horses, but also moose, monkeys, camels and other animals. There's an interesting story about this project: we exhibit these art objects in the lobbies and on the terraces of Moscow hotels, to transform a hotel into a more open and friendly space to both Muscovites and Moscow guests. After all, a hotel is not just a place to stay and spend a night at. In a modern city, it is a place to enjoy beautiful interior and relax. We have positive feedback: people smile, they like it. Besides, we have written a fairy tale about this 'zoo' and translated it into seven languages. Koreans liked our rocking animals best!

For us, this is the first trade fair supported by the city. So, we want to show the best result. If not for this opportunity, the export of our products would be extremely difficult. Participation in trade fairs is very expensive, almost impossible for start-up companies. In addition, you cannot predict the results of sales. So, Made in Moscow is a chance for many Moscow companies. Moscow Export Centre selected the most creative, successful and strong Russian brands to go to Maison & Objet. We've made every effort to create something truly unique, something to surprise the audience, while remembering the national code inscribed in our design.

We are happy that people have distinguished design as a separate industry that needs to be developed. It is seen in the way Moscow has been changing, with many festivals, Christmas and seasonal sales being held today. We used to attend street festivals in Germany, and we were happy to look at their beautiful houses and toys, and enjoyed their festive atmosphere. At home, in Moscow, it was difficult to find. But everything has changed in recent years, and now we are not inferior to them. If the trends aimed at supporting Moscow and Russian designers go on, it will be a real breakthrough.

"Design solves problems''

Anna Kharchenko, Ankha

When I was employed as an interior designer, I really lacked personal fulfilment, as my ideas never coincided with the wishes of customers, so I had to compromise. Object design allowed me to implement my ideas uncompromisingly, to create items just the way I imagined them from the start. At some point, after participating in one of the furniture design competitions, I came up with a Hexagon table, the most popular and recognisable item I have made. It launched transition to the furniture industrial design from the usual environment design. We started to collaborate with Archpole. They made Hexagon tables to start my successful collection. Today, it has been transformed into a comprehensive interior solution for offices.

At some point I realised that this degree of creative freedom, to be a designer working with different companies, is not enough for me either. And about a year ago, I registered my own brand. I have come to conclusion that design solves problems — that's my motto now. No matter what subject you have been developing, there is a room for both aesthetic and functional components, and highlighting global challenges. In my case, these are environmental issues. I have always focused on them and realised that I can help solve them as a designer. I made an object out of garbage — it may sound funny, but this is how Scales, our most popular collection, appeared. All items included in this collection are made of pieces of leather left in our partners’ workshop I often visit. They were going to throw them away, but I have made my Scales out of them.

I'm bringing this collection to the trade fair in Paris. Scales have changed a lot before the trade fair: I have perfected its design and made it fit to pack into a flat box. In terms of improvements made to items, such ambitious trade fairs are really motivating, as you always put on a shelf items to refine. Also, I will present in Paris the smallest of Hexagon tables and KUG cache-pot, also made of waste, the wood scraps.

I expect a lot from Maison & Objet trade fair, as I have worked hard and participated in international and Russian trade fairs. But it is the first time I'm going to a foreign trade fair as a representative of my own brand supported by the Moscow Government. Designers united by Made in Moscow trade fair brand have a huge information background with a variety of resources, including interpreters and beautiful construction of trade fair booths. Personally, I hope Maison & Objet will result in serious negotiations and contracts.