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HSE – St. Petersburg School of Design Come Out on Top at the St. Petersburg Young Design Contest

Students of the HSE – St. Petersburg School of Design took part in St. Petersburg Young Design – a contest for young designers and artists. Alexandra Arsentieva clinched first place in the ‘Community’ special project, Ksenia Gernik won second place in the ‘Recycle Sea’ nomination, and another unique project by HSE students was a finalist in the ‘Saint-Petersburg Merchandise’ nomination. The participants also got a chance to learn new things at a unique poster workshop curated for the competition by Mitya Kharshak, Head of the School of Design.

HSE – St. Petersburg School of Design Come Out on Top at the St. Petersburg Young Design Contest

Photo by the HSE University School of Design

This year’s St. Petersburg Young Design contest saw the participation of more than a thousand current students and recent alumni of specialised universities in St. Petersburg. The participants competed in eleven nominations, proposing handy and intuitive solutions for improving the urban environment, designing clothing and packaging for various goods, promoting St. Petersburg's image among tourists, and more.

The contest’s tasks were meticulously created by a wide array of customers from various economic and art industries. In addition to the contest’s main nominations, there were also themed workshops with specialised creative tasks. The participants also got a chance to take part in an extensive educational programme.

The event was highly competitive, with only thirty out of three hundred finalists going on to win. As a prize, the winners got a chance to implement their projects in various areas of the urban economy.

Alexandra Arsentieva, a third-year student of the HSE – St. Petersburg Design Department, took first place in a portfolio competition as part of the ‘Community’ special project. Speaking about her participation, Alexandra said: ‘I came to the competition to push myself forward, to gain new knowledge and skills. But I didn’t expect to win. It’s great that there are events like this that everyone can get involved in—and even win!’

Fourth-year student Ksenia Gernik took second place with her project in the ‘Recycle Sea’ nomination. Participants were tasked with developing a design concept for a souvenir product involving used sails and ropes taken from yachts. The idea of ​​Ksenia's project combined photographs of a yacht club, flags and an international set of signals and slogans associated with the meaning of these flags. ‘It was interesting to see how other design students and professionals work, what tools they use, and how they learn from each other,’ she said.

Third-year students Alexandra Arsentieva, Maria Pavlova, Daria Smirnova and Olesya Pazavina came out on top in the ‘Saint-Petersburg Merchandise’ nomination. They came up with the project ‘The People of St. Petersburg’ and created a sketch to be applied to merchandise associated with the city of St. Petersburg. The team wanted the project to express the idea that the city’s typical inhabitants (street musicians, librarians, fishermen, etc) can say much more about the city than any guide or attraction. 

The event also featured a poster workshop curated by Mitya Kharshak. Participants of the workshop had the chance to learn techniques for creating posters using light projections and analogue glitch effects. After the workshop, some works were exhibited at the award ceremony. 

A poster by Kristina Boyarkina, a third-year student of the School of Design, was presented to Alexander Belsky, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg.

Mitya Kharshak, Head of the School of Design, National Research University Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg

I am glad that the competition has reached the citywide level—this year, 18 universities took part. Students of the HSE – St. Petersburg School of Design were actively involved in various nominations. Curating the ‘Saint Petersburg Merchandise’ nomination gave me an opportunity to get acquainted with innovative ideas in the context of the city's brand development. That collaboration with students and graduates produced some great projects.

I also curated a poster workshop for an inter-university group of students, where there was a fairly strict selection by portfolio. This workshop was about creating a design statement. The main idea was to show the connection between designers and the materials they use—to investigate how a work of art is born amid spontaneity, randomness, and unpredictability, when the very techniques, tools, and materials become the designer's co-author. 

We experimented with light projections and studied glitch effects to create captivating graphic statements that were exhibited in the halls of the Stieglitz Academy.

The St. Petersburg Young Design competition was organised by the Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design and the St. Petersburg Innovation and Youth Initiatives Support Foundation with support from the Presidential Grants Fund. The competition was held from June to December 2021, and the award ceremony took place on December 15.