Alexander Ward

30 September – 16 December 2009
Loughborough University

Russionale: used to describe anything intrinsically Muscovite in nature.

I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived in Moscow. I had heard various stereotypes about Russians and most people’s response was “Oh, be careful!” Well, I can tell you, don’t believe everything you read in the news, as George Carlin once said “It’s all bullshit!”

Moscow is an exciting, energised and a diverse cosmopolitan city. It is important to remember that Moscow does not represent Russia, it very much is an island in the country. It is also important to remember that despite being a burgeoning cosmopolitan city it will still do things in an intrinsically Russian style, hence russionale. But this is what makes it unique and unlike any other city I have been too, you really have to come here to understand.

The people made the experience for me. I have to thank Karina and the De Maunys who kindly let me stay for free during my stay, a huge helping hand in what can be quite an expensive place, and also Vova and the other Voykovskaya friends I made for providing so many enjoyable nights. Every Friday night a DJ comes to the office to finish the working week and this was a great way to get to know everyone in the office and it really does feel more like one big family than a group of colleagues. Well, at least for me anyway. Many thanks must go to Timur for all his help with actually getting to Moscow and then making sure I was still alive when I was there!

The studio is a special place, all the other intern reports are not as Carlin says, and no matter how much Tema wants me to write something bad about the place I really can’t; any work place that has an equal number of bean bags as office chairs, a set of pioneer DJ decks, the city in questions best coffee barista and manages to produce such a high standard of design has got something good going on. The work ethic is flexible but everyone feeds of this flexibility rather than abusing it and the consequent creativity is evident everywhere, most shown on “The Brain”. This is a tool whereby anyone can upload ideas and concepts on to a site regardless of the relevance to current projects or validity of the idea. This concept of allowing everyone to contribute to the creativity of the company is such an empowering tool and something I will be encouraging in future places of employment. I feel grateful to have been a part of the studio, even if for such a relatively short time, I doubt I will work anywhere quite like it again.

One of the largest benefits I got from my time in the studio was the time I got to think about design, to think about how design is developing as a profession and how I want to fit into the industry. It is a common opinion that the impact that design and design thinking can stretch far and wide, beyond the environments of product, graphic and interaction design. I strongly believe that the trend we are seeing in design for a more user-centered approach is filtering through to all aspects of our lives, such as education, politics, poverty and environmental issues. It is going to be fascinating to see how design thinking can impact everything from how our companies are run to how we feel when we walk down the street, and I hope that I can include this sense of the bigger picture in my career. Perhaps as the studio motto states, design will save the world.

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