Like so many of the best things in life, Art. Lebedev Studio sits behind an inconspicuous door.
I flash my security card to a different unsmiling face everyday and ride the elevator to another world. I beep myself in and there I am. Huge spaces, the hum of computers, of energy and thoughts whizzing around. The curtains are drawn pretty much 24/7 which gives an odd sensation of living in the same hour. Past the tiny kitchen where I grab a cup of tea then keep walking further into the labyrinth; past managers and engineers, until I finally pass through coarse orange curtains and into the Industrial Design Department. Hellos, Priviets and Bonjours all around. I am the first Canadian to intern at Art. Lebedev Studio, and while I was there (seven months!) I worked with Russians, and saw interns from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and China/Sweden come and go.
I suppose I will have had a different experience here than other interns because I was attending Moscow State University as well as interning, so I had the opportunity to work for seven months, and attend University for 11 months. They say that one year in Russia is like three years in your native country, and if this is true (which I am leaning towards agreeing with) then I couldn’t be happier to have spent my time at Art. Lebedev Studio. Here, not only did I have a great time, I was included in every part of the design process and every project. I attended quite a few client meetings and even held one myself (in English of course!). It was great to watch all the people from different departments coming together to see each project through to the end. I would be so preoccupied with a new project that sometimes it would feel like prototypes or the actual finished project would fall on my desk before I thought possible.
Artemy Lebedev is the main man around here, and everything goes through him. This doesn’t mean that we had no creative license. Any idea you had, big or small, was to go onto the intranet, where your fellow colleagues could comment on. Ideas with lots of positive feedback are often put into production for the company itself and sold online and in stores all over the world. These projects were done while we were also working on client projects. While here I improved my sketching skills considerably, especially my quick sketches. I recognized where I have room for improvement, and was given free time to watch and complete tutorials. They have a great library of books to inspire, to teach or to inform. Timur was always willing to take book suggestions as well and there was no end of new books showing up in the ID department.
What was especially important to me during my time here, is that I was able to see clearly which aspects of design are especially important to me (although I had to take a lot of teasing about always adding whether or not a material is sustainable or not!) and also what kind of an environment I would like to be able to work in.
So thanks to all those people who created the great environment in which I worked.