Jack Watson

3 February – 20 March 2009
Coventry University

I feel like I only got here yesterday and now I’m already writing my report on my last day here! Well, here goes… Art. Lebedev Studio is quite possibly every young designer’s utopian vision of how a design studio should appear, act and feel. When I first saw the building from the outside (in a sleep-deprived daze straight from the airport), I had absolutely no idea that the work space would be such a great contrast. In a way, the studio could pass itself off as a museum of 20th Century memorabilia; against every wall are typewriters, old PCs, vacuum cleaners and televisions, demonstrating the good, bad and the sometimes unusual designs of other companies, past and present. The studio space itself is very large, with the web design guys in the coolest part of the building (I think it used to be a theatre of sorts) and every desk reflects the interesting personalities of the people who sit there with ornaments, strange hats and books cluttering up any available spaces. In a way it reminded me a bit of a great youth hostel, because everyone sits around chatting or even snoozing on the sofas. The Industrial Design section is further out of the way (through the “Credit Crisis Cafe” where you can buy good coffee very cheaply), and this gives the impression that you?re part of a separate entity, which, in effect, you are. Timur has built up a library of design books that even Amazon would be jealous of and the walls are covered with renders of the studio’s past achievements and sketches of current projects. The guys really are all great at what they do. Timur and Lelic’s sketching and rendering set a standard that I’m going to be striving to reach for a long time to come (practice! practice! practice!), and throughout the projects that we were working on they persistently helped me to understand what I could do better, and how I could do things differently to achieve a better result. I’ve also had the chance to play around with softwear that I’d never had any experience with before such as sketchbook pro, and now I can’t see how I didn’t use it until now. Thanks to a couple of crash-courses in it from the master, Timur, I will hopefully get a bit better at it! I was pleased to be able to do some model-making too (“British build quality” was mentioned - I’m not sure if this is a good thing…). The glimpses I got of the work that the 3D modelling chaps were doing made me green with envy at how good they are at making photo-realistic renders, and I’d like to think that a bit of their creativity when it comes to composition and detailing may have rubbed off on me. I was made to feel a part of the team and found it very interesting (and occasionally amusing) to be included in client presentations. On top of that, the quantity of sketchwork that I did while I was here really can only be of great benefit to me.

Moscow has a very different feel to other cities that I’ve visited in Europe, but it really is a great place and full of surprises (it’s also been interesting to experience a Russian winter). I’m very pleased to have been allowed to be a part of studio life for the past six weeks. Thanks for inviting me over and for showing me around. It’s been a fantastic experience.

Oh, and a quick word of advice for future interns. Don’t say “Privyet” instead of “Zdravsrvuyte” to the security-guards or to the ticket sellers at the station. It doesn’t go down too well!

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