How Do Design Students Incorporate What They Learn In Their Lives?

Sher, a sophomore of HSE School of design in Saint Petersburg, talks about the role of design in the lives of students.

How Do Design Students Incorporate What They Learn In Their Lives?

Higher School of Economics possesses many different faculties that are ranked very highly in the Russian Federation and internationally. One of its crown jewels is the Art and Design, the Programme considered the best in Russia. In the Year of 2018 the University opened HSE Art and Design School in Saint Petersburg to complement the one in Moscow. The new School became the first program in the city offering training based on the principles of modern design education according to the school’s website.

Art, Architecture, Culture, фтв Fashion are an important part of the city’s scene and social life, as well as the way the youth of the city express themselves. 

To get a better grasp on the relationship between design, the youth, and Saint Petersburg life, HSE Illuminated sat down with one of the students in the Saint Petersburg School of Design, for a short interview on the subject.

Can you please introduce yourself a little bit.

My Name is Sher, I’m 20 years old, I’m a sophomore HSE design Student.

I heard that our Design School is basically the best in Russia, do you think it is true?

In my opinion yes, this is because our educational system is built around practice and all of our projects revolve around doing what designers actually do in their workplace.

So from what I understand, your school is more focused on hands-on experience, do you have classes like history, theory, and do research like the rest of us?

I mean yes. We do study theory and history, but the system is trying to simulate real job experience as much as possible so that when we graduate the transition to the workforce would be very smooth.

What is design?

That’s a really tough one actually. When I started doing design, I realized that it is not only about ads or logos and branding. It is about everything: Space, How you dress, how you talk, how you express yourself. One of my teachers said that design is 70 percent marketing and 30 percent of Art and I really like this definition.

Do you think that design is an essential aspect of our lives?

Yes definitely, and for many different reasons, we tend not to notice how design affects our lives, but it actually solves a lot of problems that we have in our lives and makes it more comfortable.

What type of problems are solved by design in our lives?

Simply put, I think every person has some problems understanding some things, and design makes it easier to understand them. We see this in commercials, where companies use design to make customers understand why they need their products and services or to explain why a particular solution will make their lives easier and also in the way the products are designed and engineered. Design, in general, makes your lived experience easier.

You got me thinking a little bit in terms of architecture. Particularly, Soviet architecture when it comes to cheap housing. Do you think that they lack some design features which affected negatively how people that lived in them felt?

Of course. And this reminds me of the German School of design Bauhaus, which tried to combine function and art. The philosophy behind it is that Art should help people live easier.

Which design philosophy in your opinion is the best?

The most attractive type of design for me is something that I heard about from a very famous designer called Anton Schneider who used to be a designer for Yandex and now he has his own Art studio in Ukraine. He talks about something called “design without design”. The philosophy behind it is that our modern world has actually too many designs in it. Like when you walk in the subway and you are overwhelmed with posters and commercials even if they are beautiful. Instead, the philosophy states that you don’t have to notice the design, it should be minimalist and intuitive, where you do not have to even think about it and you can still absorb it. Just like an over-engineered thing is bad so is an over-designed thing.

Are you currently working in the field of design?

Besides the University, I am currently working on a rebranding. I got this job from my friends who work in repairing electronics. Their business is quite big. We are rebranding because their business grew rapidly and the branding needs to evolve to reflect this. Especially because they started working with other big companies.

What can you tell me about design and youth culture in Saint Petersburg? I noticed that the youth of this city have a certain aesthetic to them. Thrift shopping for example is extremely popular here.

We have a big trend in our generation when it comes to thrift shopping. And I love that a lot of people are doing that. But I feel that its point is getting lost. It is not about looking cool. It is about being a smart customer, recycling, and ecology and not damaging the system. A lot of big fashion designers for example right now are incorporating sustainability in their work. A lot of people are buying second-hand or thrifting because it is a trend but we should not forget the ethical side of it.

In this sense do you also see over-designing in this to the point where authenticity is lost?

This is how trends work. When you are the first to introduce something it is not cool in the beginning and might even seem weird. Then it comes popularised and the meaning behind the first introduction gets lost a bit. But you know, the good and interesting thing is that I see that thrift shopping allows people to express their individual taste and you can see how they made decisions in choosing a clothing piece and how they combine them. And I really enjoy this trend and community.

Have you ever worked in Fashion design?

I have helped a friend of mine with some designs. He works in recycling clothing and creating something new out of them. Like making a stylish bag out of old jeans. And I just love this vision, so I made a promo video for him about his company and brand, which I am gonna send to a British magazine. I have many friends who work in the clothing and really love this trend of favoring local shops and creators instead of the big companies and mass-market clothing.

Do you think studying at HSE has increased your creativity and potential as a designer or is it your own effort and individual talent?

I think it is a combination of both. Because every design student has to develop his taste. And every taste has to be refined by training and working which HSE provides us with.

Do you think that no matter what your taste is, you can always make it appealing from a design perspective?

This is the biggest thing that I love about design. A designer has to be open and exposed to many different things and aspects of life. The famous Russian designer Artemy Lebedev said that there are only two professions that must know everything, are journalists and designers. Journalists express themselves in a very straightforward and direct way but designers have to be much more subtle and combine the many different aspects and influences that they are exposed to or that they experience internally.

An example of this is that a designer should be able to make a good look out of a funky fun commercial, or a scientific informative one, in fashion you can design well a geeky nerdy look as well as a wild crazy one.

Do You have any social media pages for people to follow if they wanna see your work and the different projects that you work on?

Yeah. You can simply follow me on Instagram at @sherfz. 

Interview by
Hassan Jawad