The Complex Designer by Zhenya Arutyunov

slozhny dizayner cover

The Complex Designer is not a book about design. More precisely, it is about design, but not in the usual sense: it doesn’t cover basics of composition, have rules or exercises.

It is a book for rebels: those who act out of the pattern, ask uncomfortable questions and pave their own way. And for those who want to be like that, but just don’t know how.

slozhny dizayner 01

The author talks about both the sophisticated matters—the culture of thinking, communication leadership—and the inevitable work routine. For example, about why it is important to learn how to “spin the spring.” Or why you need to always take as much money as possible. Or how to build solid design.

These are not ready-made recipes, but rather detailed reasoning: why something doesn’t work and how to rethink the process to make sure it does work and bring joy. And the advice is equally useful for designers, editors, managers, developers and other creative types.

slozhny dizayner 02


I believe that design is like a sphere. Some things are on the surface, and some things are hidden in the deep underneath it.

On the surface, everyone wears a badge: UI/UX designer, product, junior, middle. Here, people take courses on creating 4D-generative-bigdata-machine-learning identity, study trends and lifehacks.

Everything is clear here. It’s the realm of certainty, simple answers and rules. They love the cargo cult here: “let’s just do it they way those guys did it.” Competition is high though, so you have to make your way somehow. And you can’t overcomplicate things, or the work will stop.

Underneath the surface, there is silence. There are few people here, but a lot of trust and cooperation. There are no boundaries between professions and titles. Here, they ask good questions, look for patterns, truth, congruence and emergence (and for those, who can explain what these words mean). There is a lot of reading and making observations, and quality of thought is paramount.

In the deep, uncertainty is okay, it’s normal not to know, acceptable to make mistakes. Here, they don’t overcomplicate what is simple, but also don’t oversimplify what is complex.

My book is about the deep. I don’t encourage you to live underneath the surface from now on: no one needs ideas without implementation, no one cares about intellectuals who can’t roll up their sleeves and get the work done. But in the deep you can look for treasures: unobvious questions and elegant solutions, your own approach to problems. And on the surface, there is inspiration, resources and tools to do the work.


From the foreword by the author

slozhny dizayner 03

slozhny dizayner 04

Zhenya Arutyunov is an art director, designer and project manager. He works on a number of great teams: he creates the global brand for Dodo Pizza, develops Park, a community of designers, editors and developers at Intuition design bureau, and manages design at Gladlax editorial bureau. He delivers lectures on design and organization of creative work and posts to a channel for designers called This Is Beautiful and This Is Not.

slozhny dizayner 05
slozhny dizayner 06
slozhny dizayner 07


  • Kristina Pletneva

cover designer

  • Zhenya Arutyunov

editor-in-chief of the publisher


  • Lyudmila Sarycheva


secret advisor

project managers

production manager

  • Hardcover
  • 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 144×215 mm (5,7″×8,4″)
  • Press run: 3000
  • ISBN 978-5-6047876-3-2