Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Dmitry Kudinov ("DK") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.
DK : I am a self-educated designer. I never studied design within a formal education. I have a technical education as medical equipment engineer. It helps me to look at design projects from an engineering point of view as they always have some technical issues. You need to combine creative thinking with a pragmatic point of view. You should understand how it works and which tools and technologies you have to use to achieve a desired result. I started feeling myself as a designer in 2008. Then I worked at the factory as control and measuring systems specialist. I moved to Kazan immediately after my army service. I got a job at Kazan Orgsintez chemical factory. That was a year of economic uncertainty in the country. These were hard times in terms of finding a job. My friend worked at that factory. That was not his free will also, it was a necessity. So, I got a job there, but I realized that it is temporary. At nights I started to study graphic software. I started working on my first customer orders, I usually got them from the people I knew. The number of orders grew incrementally, I had less and less free time because my work schedule did not allow for that. Mostly I worked at nights and I learned things through practice. I did not get any formal education, but through trial and error I studied various cases, tried to figure out how it happens, what you must do to achieve certain results. After a year of working at the factory I realized that I wanted to work as a designer – that was my dream at that time. With a help of a girl I knew I got a job with my first design studio. That was not the best place to work. The company managed to stay in business for 8 months only. However, working in a team allows you to learn some other things. These guys had their own approach, kind of a dim vision and I did not like it much. However, I had succeeded in implementing my own ideas. The criteria of success and quality for me was when my ideas were implemented without any amendments. After these 8 months, having realized that I would not work there anymore, me and the guys from this company organized our own business. We rented an office and moved there. We were kind of a self-organized freelance group. But that was not enough for me. Through the social media I learned about an open position in Kazan with a design studio. It was a funny situation at the job interview when I was asked, who is an authority for me. Actually, I had not done any prep for that interview. I said that I try to stay away from authority and have my own opinion. Probably this played a certain role and I had been hired. It was difficult at the beginning because they had different rules of the game. Design level was more serious, and I had to adjust myself. Once I was even at the point of being fired but I managed to perform well and showed myself within one project. And I worked there for a long time. But I went on doing street art stuff part time. I believe that these two fields have something in common anyway. I started getting orders. So, I showed up in that company as a street artist, asked my friend to join it as an illustrator. The two of us started to offer not only graphic design ideas but also projects related to urban territory improvement. The first projects showed up, including larger ones but still on a local level. Later on, I resigned from that company and worked freelance for a long time studying totally different areas. I had functionality of both a designer and a manager, sometimes even a PR manager and art director. The clients represented diverse industries, and this allowed to work not only on a single project or several projects at the same time. This also brought a skill to adjust yourself to different tasks. Flexibility helped a lot in this respect – I worked with clothing design, clothing prints, the tasks were totally different. What I did not like about the graphic design at that time was the lack of a physical result. I just wanted to touch my work, hold it in my hands. I realized that the problem of the most of young designers is the inability of being responsible for the result. They produce some pictures, and a client must do something with them. I was not satisfied at all with this impracticability of graphic design. I was searching for similar areas where I could apply my skills. So, I worked in Flash programming and animation, performed the roles of an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer – I tried most of the key fields of design. I had this desire to produce something functional that you can hold in your hands, where you can work on your mistakes and show it to the people. So, I started visiting industrial facilities, asking questions about how it worked, why this was impossible to implement and how this problem could be solved. Creative thinking is linking an original idea to functionality. You cannot universally adapt any idea. You always need to realize how it will be used at the end. Therefore, there should be a specific technology related to certain tasks. There is a huge gap between designers and technologists, and I saw it myself when people having profoundly serious equipment at their disposal did not realize the whole range of its application in practice. Step by step I started to learn what was it and how it worked and what were the limits. Having learned that I realized the technological aspects, too. After a freelance period, I started developing artistic practices remotely. I painted something as a hobby or just for an extra money. At a certain point I started focusing on larger art objects and projects which I wanted to implement. I have realized then that the graphic design per se has become just a tool for me. Artistic practices are a transfer process and design is a visualization tool. Design itself is not a result. I got the first larger clients and then I was invited to become a Development Director in Moscow. That was the first graffiti agency with development plans in Moscow but there were difficulties. At that moment I felt the gap between creative and businesspeople. Creative people, being impulsive and emotional, hardly realize that business is built on some basic business processes. In this case I worked simultaneously as Business Development Manager as well being responsible for the approach to projects. I produced a lot of sketches made either by me or by some of the artists. That became a symbiosis, we found a certain niche where all these skills made sense. You do some hands-on job and you understand how it will be done. You must originally build your thinking about designs and visual range and other technical issues basing on these limits, i.e. how it will be made and produced, how it will relate to the whole architecture of the object and corporate style of a client. We started getting major brands as clients, e.g. Kidzania. That was a project in Mexico, a professions town for kids, we decorated one of the walls. Also, Adidas, Nike, Gett. Moscow gives more opportunities for working with multinational brands. Although you do a small part for them, but you understand how they work. But very soon I reached the upper limit because it is very difficult to work being a company employed designer. I left that company and me and my wife established our own company targeted at urban projects. Any other projects being more closed, were less interesting. I wanted to work with urban space and integrate my work in it. Currently I work as an Art Director or Creative Director, although it is difficult to name it since I do not want to use any clichés. Here the line between work and hobby has been totally washed out because originally you come up with an idea and share it. You formulate the task for yourself, you do not have an actual client. You define conditions where you will be willing to do it. And you put forward a full-scale elaborate project which can be implemented. That is how we worked at FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017, next year we worked for FIFA World Cup 2018. From smaller and interesting clients, we came to author projects. Currently we deal with festival programs related to street art and urban art, practices of people involvement in projects implementation. My interests have changed slightly because it became interesting to work not only with contexts but culture codes as well. People started to entrust extremely complicated historical objects to us because we managed to harmoniously integrate our works in them. Our work should not look as an alien element but be integrated harmoniously into architecture and context and be comprehensible by broader audience. Talking about the Tower project, this is exactly the project representing high degree of trust. We did not need any approvals. We worked with this client before at Artek kids camp. We had a joint project with Bosco. Director of Artek communicated with us, he has been watching the whole process. And Senezh Management Workshop is also his project. He started to integrate us street artists step by step. The trust level was remarkably high and the job itself was very interesting. Currently I would like to be involved more in artistic activities, sometimes I manage to do it.
DK : Initially it was as with many young maximalist people – a desire to change the world. You want to do something, and every person finds a path to change the circumstances around. Eventually you come to understanding that you need to change yourself first, then your circle changes. And if your work means something at some location within certain context, your social behavior starts to change. And this is what supports my interest – design is still an instrument for visualization and presentation of the projects as well as their preparation. I have not been doing graphic design for quite a while. But it is still a tool set which allows you to be multidisciplinary. The more knowledge and skills you have, the higher is your professionalism. This helps in my work, as well as my technical education provides broader understanding of all processes.
DK : That was my voluntary decision to choose this path. I faced a lot of difficulties, especially when being a freelancer when you have to be a manager, an art director, a sales manager as well as a designer at the same time. You do a lot of stuff apart from you designer work. If I did not like it and if it was not my own desire, it would be easier to quit it.
DK : I tried the vast number of design areas. I started in graphic design mostly presented by publishing, that was the most common demand from the clients. Then I dealt with illustrations for Flash and we did some Flash animation, but I lost interest in that really quick. Then I produced printmaking for clothes and silk graphics for smaller scale and small production volumes works. I had certain interest in branding, not only identity development, but going from task setting to the result. But all these works did not give the feeling of a result. I did not realize how my work is perceived by consumers. I had some business cards printing and other publishing services, but I wanted to do something more functional and significant. All these related areas have been uniting in one within the framework of branding. But later I turned to more large-scale projects, that was my conscious decision. That was a serious and complicated step to take. In this situation you start to think on behalf of a huge number of people. You have to perceive everything through a new vision. Here everything is more sophisticated. You gain social projecting skills as well sociology, psychology, culturology and art studies. Everything related to art is combined within large-scale urban projects. Currently I have an opportunity to implement festival projects related to street art. I would like to go deeper into urbanistic studies and deal with more sophisticated social projecting and introduce participative practices. These are practices involving the community and the people. We do have them but not of such a large volume. I am also interested in installations. Maybe when I get older I will think about sculpture and larger volume things.
DK : You need to look at things not only from your point of view but from the point of view of other people. You should focus on functionality of the things that you do. There are certain areas which are related to phantasy and do not exist, like digital which you cannot touch and feel. But still there are some criteria like consumer experience which shows the quality of a design. Try things, unite with more experienced people because it is through communicating with them you become a better specialist. You learn much more from practice. Theory is also required, and you can advance in theory. Practice without theory can exist and theory without practice cannot.
DK : I think it is consciousness and responsibility for a result. I came across a lot of people being good designers and they let their customers go with nothing but mockups. It is important to complete your work, to help implement something. Here I am talking about some customer related tasks. I think that within each company you should bring projects to final results and share the final result. It is very important to hold a pilot project in your hands, have a look at disadvantages because they are always there. You cannot do everything perfectly from the first time. Great designers understand that. In order to produce a great result, you have to go through seven interim results. This is my practical experience of industrial design. In order to produce a more or less functional products taking into consideration all issues, you need to produce pilot projects, have a closer look at it, improve it. You set your quality criteria for yourself all right. But if you have responsibilities in front of a large number of people, you must realize that you have to take their demands into account.
DK : You set your own criteria, but you must consider the vision of all parties involved. To be more precise, first, you collect information, you should understand what you do and whom for, what is the expected result, at least approximately. Basing on information gathered, you set evaluation criteria, whether this design is good or not. Does the project solve tasks set initially or you declined from the initial direction? Here you should keep a balance between an ideal, practicality and other criteria. This balance and harmony are the features of a great design.
DK : These are more or less similar questions. The value is the fact that people use it. Practical usability is the value. Which tasks are solved for a consumer, for target audience? Do they really understand that? Nobody will use a beautiful thing if it is not functional, if it is not adapted or updated in accordance with different target groups requirements. Of course, there are groups of various ages: kids, adults, seniors. They have totally different perception of the scale of one room, for example, or the scale of a city. It is important to understand your target audience. The value is often transmitted through a consumer.
DK : Difficult to say, maybe some new formats like we do now – decorating of a military aircraft. It is interesting to travel and work with international colleagues in international projects. The international festival format is extremely interesting. We planned one this year but due to the pandemic it has a big question mark on it. Gathering a community from different countries and with various backgrounds is cool because it could be a trampoline for the young. You can compare them within one project to provide growth. Experience is transferred by such festival programs.
DK : Of course, I am interested in some planetary scale projects, there are projects reaching out of the stratosphere. Doing something with satellites, international space stations. This could be super cool. Take Ilon Mask and his Tesla in space, it is reaching out of our planet. These are people not limited by some local events. Such projects, not necessarily successful, motivate other people to do something.
DK : This is again about the same thing. The recipe is quite simple, consciousness from the very beginning when you approach a project not knowing yet whether it will suit you or not. If I may use such a word – delvability, how deep you get into the project. This relates directly to production. And responsibility for the result, responsibility for the people who will use it. In our area you come, you do the project and it either ceases its existence or you never come back to that location. But people will go on living with it. These three steps will let you do something comprehensible by other people.
DK : As I said, there are no such people. I am more on the artistic practices side. There are several artists I do like. I would not say that they are icons for me, just as you grow you follow one or another. There are some things totally incomprehensible today, but tomorrow you will discover this author anew. There are certain works and projects which as good wine need time to become good. That I think a genius is all about – an ability to look forward and create something that will be actual for a long time. I don’t even know some designers by names, I know the products.
DK : There are good TV Shows about design, for instance, Design Geniuses or Abstract: The Art Of Design. 2 seasons are already released and there are very interesting architects and designers. I am always surprised that foreign specialists of these professions are older. I think that relates to continuity and taste learned through generations. Our political situation here in Russia is slightly different, and the generation gap is significant. I would not point out somebody individually, there are very serious schools and you try to follow the whole variety of them. I am always impressed by Japanese engravings, Japanese culture and Japanese design. Sometimes it is even psychedelic. But that gives them authenticity.
DK : Currently we plan a major festival in a public art format dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II. This is a very tragic topic for many people. This is the project of the heritage of this day for new generations. We try to show what this date means from the point of view of modern generations without touching the war theme but talking about culture, life continuity. Very deep meanings are the heritage of this project. This project will be implemented in three stages. The second stage will be international in the format of Murrell Fest. The third stage will be a land art festival. On each level we interact with totally different groups of people and we expect maximum involvement. On the third stage people will know what to expect, and we will produce eco-sculptures to be installed in town. They will be involved in the creation process; people will be authors of these works. These are the projects we target involving the community and we solve several tasks simultaneously. Our task as an art embassy is to find these connections between different groups and provide the best conditions for everybody. The city has its own tasks, its inhabitants have other ones, and the target groups have the third group of tasks. Sponsors’ involvement should be most delicate without literal promotion and pushy attitude.
DK : The best projects are festival programs and interaction with large number of people because the main quality criteria is changing people’s thinking, and I do not mean participants only. It is great when you can bring a lot of international participants. This includes very intense communication for a week or two. What changes in people is their understanding of the scale and the fact that their initiative can change their cities. This is the idea we try to promote within such big projects. It looks like when you come from a small town, nobody notices you, but in fact if you have a good idea (although maybe you cannot present it properly) you need to find people who will help you to carry your message. Communication is a very important component. Changing of thinking takes place. Most prominent names, as I see, come from the small towns lacking the prosperity of world capitals. And only then, when you reach a certain level you get an opportunity to travel, to communicate with other people. This is a very serious push you can get.
DK : Difficult to say, because currently I do what I want to do. Nobody says: you are a designer and do design only. I do my own projects and I have absolute freedom to do whatever I want to do. I am interested in development of environmental projects, projects for smaller groups or for groups of disabled people, more socially oriented projects, organize tours, do design of eco-clothing. These projects are already in place and I do them. They can be called designer’s work but also a sociologist’s work. Works of a citizen with initiative and creative approach to any problem, who offers a solution. It is not enough to criticize; you have to offer something. If you have designer skills, excellent, you can also be a great communicator or manager and create other projects not related to design. Travel is one of the most needed elements. Remote access via Internet does not provide with an understanding of what is going on. Travel is also part of work. You absorb aesthetics of other cities and other countries of the world. This is some kind of a permanent social study. You go deeper into urbanistic of other cities. You try to remember some solutions, and it is a very strong push. These are related professions that you have to be involved in.
DK : Design is a process in the first place, not a result. When people say, hey, that’s a cool design, looking at something. It seems to me that they talk about the process itself, how designer approached his task and solved it. This is some kind of modification. Designs may vary for the same thing or product; design might be totally different. Essentially, it is a process of modifying a thing. For instance, we can talk about bicycles. There were times when bicycles had a big front wheel and a smaller back one. There are monocycles, there are classic bicycles, road bicycles, tandems etc. You can unite all these under one category, but they are different, targeted for different audiences and different functions. Design is an application tool which modifies something in process.
DK : First thing is self-criticism. This is an everlasting mental process. It obviously depends on external factors: what is your mood, where are you, what influences you at the moment. Changing locations can have a great influence. And the second thing, equally important, are people around you. They affect you a lot as personality, and your vision of the world changes dramatically. Family, relatives, friends are those people who influence you in the first place. As sociologists and psychologists say, 50% of a person’s views depends on internal factors, 25% - on people around him and 25% - on the way he was brought up. If you summarize people around you and your upbringing, you get 50%.
DK : I do not consider myself an outstanding designer. Context helps – where are you, which tasks are you solving, what are your priorities, these are important things. Many designers have a lot of projects, some sort of diffusion occurs, you do not know what to do. You should concentrate on some interim goal. You cannot reach your ideal immediately. You should reach it through interim goals and tasks. Every time you take the step up, you work on your mistakes and you move forward. Each project may have a different team, it also affects the final result. Your travels, aesthetics that you see also leaves strong impressions, consciously or sub-consciously, this is very visible. The thing that should be mentioned separately is a quality of your tool set. Most professionals already do not care what do they work with, they understand how things are done. But if you just start to learn something, it is very important to have quality materials and tools at your disposal. It rids of many problems which you can face.
DK : There are always obstacles and limitations. You lack knowledge in a certain field, you don’t have time, which happens most frequently, you have insufficient budget for implementation of all your ideas. This happens incrementally, there are no revolutions here. It always happens gradually. It is important to overcome these problems and difficulties. And when you look back you realize that these problems which seemed to be global and unsolvable, after several years are typical and trivial. You will have experience to step over them without even noticing. The transfer from a hobby to profession, your craftsmanship is very complicated. It is very important to set a goal for the next 6 months. You must select those areas which are favorable for you, learn those skills that will help you to reach this point. This is professional growth. These areas may change every 6 months. Being multidisciplinary with lead you to singularity of your experience and skills. You will know much more and will have varied approaches: as an engineer, as a designer, as an artist, as a consumer of this product. It does not matter who are you now, you have all opportunities to try something new and look at it from the new standpoint.
DK : I can share my own experience. When I was just learning to do it, I was surprised how immaculately the projects are presented, especially in publications on Behance. Only later on I found out that there are tools which allow to do it for you like mockups. These are templates integrated in your design, and it looks good. It seemed to me then that this is some kind of a limited edition. It was beautifully packed and posted, and I try to keep up with these standards. I try to transform any design into something physical. Not leaving it in a digital form in a presentation but trying to convert it from digital to physical form. Then you can take a picture of it, invite a photographer, a model, other experts. This is the fun part of it. The excitement you get when you work on and on with this product. Taking pictures of it, obviously it takes more time. This is what good designer’s fee depends upon. He does much more than just a mockup. He is responsible for a result and he is interested in finalizing the product.
DK : I have been having this idea for years – a festival tour. I want to have a journey in a good company, with good people and produce author works worldwide. Have a look myself but also give other guys an opportunity to show their author works. In the meantime, this idea has been growing for years. Eventually, I want to move into more sophisticated areas, become a full-scale author, work on your own philosophy, develop your own author projects. And maybe, the architectural work is not too far away. I am not a sculptor but as a designer you still think about development in these areas.
DK : The purpose is to manage current tasks and possibilities with maximum efficiency. You have to leave space for improvisation because it is very interesting because something has to be changed during the process. The morphology of initial idea changes into something else, this change is attractive. You never guess ahead, you never know what will come up, this is what is interesting. You can compare it with expressionism in painting. You have these feelings now and something works during the process.
DK : When there is trust, people expect something basing on your portfolio and your works. It becomes clear what to expect, what is your approach. Quite often you have to tell them how you solved one task or another but this tension existing at the starting stage goes away because when I show that I am involved deeply in their project, asking their expert opinion in their field. You need to ask people and they see that you are a kind of intermediary between their ideas (which sometimes cannot be presented by them clearly), you have to catch the essence, process it and implement. In this case this trust stays in place. That brings loyalty from the client. People expect certain experience, certain adventure which will happen during the process.
DK : That is exactly the purpose of any of our projects – to change the views and behavior of people. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are some adverse projects and the rhetorical question comes up – do we need to do it here or maybe we can help people in some other way? But then you recall that culture connects all fundamental areas of life. If you don’t have culture, it is complicated to say, who is this person. Identity of a person is shaped by the culture, predecessors’ experience etc. When you hear them and realize that people initially do not know what they want, and they are used to live in the reality they have. And you say: let’s try this and you will see the result. And they start finding answer to the question you ask. Through interaction with new people, through communication they start to formulate initiatives around your project. We had experience when tourist routes were built. Other people start to involve more people and share what it was, how it was done. They become mentors for us. And it is interesting how your project affects other people’s behavior.
DK : I get most excited by the process, i.e. the process is related to communication with different people that is, as I said, what is necessary for young designers. They are driven by that. There are requests from other people, from abroad to participate in our projects. This is very cool; we are always happy about it. Creating conditions for them causes some kind of social euphoria. Maybe this is what makes it interesting. Yes, we will have a result. It will be used after us. The process of communication and sharing experiences brings you that drive. You do not speak for other people, you give them an opportunity to speak. Then they will create something interesting. You just direct them as a tutor. This is basically what our work is all about.
DK : There are some small local projects. We had this city quest project. There were certain marks around town. It was called a Hunting Season project. People ran around, took pictures. That was very epic. It was funny to watch it because people who were hopeless won and got something. The prizes were very interesting, and this involvement was very interesting. Another project was for a big festival in Moscow which is held every summer. We hired people who themselves attracted crowds of people. We had huge number of people visiting our location. We dropped souvenirs on parachutes. Within two days we distributed 400 souvenir boxes, that was great. Here is where the client’s trust contributes to you as well as solves their tasks. People do not see any limits, they just enter the friendly environment where they can offer their own ideas or participate in one of the stages. Such interesting things do happen.
DK : This is the time when design becomes a mentor when people are isolated from each other. Design must be the connecting tool. Appearance of teleconferences, online formats, online events. You cannot do it without design. Designers must realize the whole responsibility which is currently upon them. Design must be comprehensible by a great number of people. Probably this will influence the processes one way or another. There will be more workplaces. There are more requests for different kinds of design. It will be on the edge of what is happening.
DK : It turns out that there will be multidisciplinary areas in science, technology and design. It is already difficult to say: I am that type of a designer. Synergy of different areas happens. It leads to something common. It will not be enough to know one of the areas. Roughly, if we take nanotechnology and biomedicine, when the new prosthesis shows up on the market being a combination of science, design and medicine. There are more examples like this and looks like everything goes to being multidisciplinary.
DK : The concept itself appears very fast because you are always in different context and perceive and read some new information. Having loaded it into your head, you start having new ideas, very different ones. That is what I meant when I spoke about improvisation. I say: let’s do it like this. Or: let’s change this, let’s relocate these things and this will make the whole story totally different.
DK : I start with analytics and concept. If we talk about stages, there is pre-production, formulating of an idea, drafting budget documentation. Preparation takes a lot of time. Ideas show up fast, but pre-production is stretched in time. The production itself takes a short time, i.e. the implementation of a project. It consists of many parameters, but you already thought them of. There is a post-production stage where you put the cases together, publishing on the Internet etc. Application for competitions is also post-production. It is difficult to say where it starts and where it ends. It is also not clear where ideas come from. The more experience you have, the more spontaneous is the process. You get more excited by the process rather than torture yourself with one idea trying to implement it. You have to do everything gradually, then you won’t experience difficulties.
DK : I have done personal branding and for me personally the Ronin character, a samurai without a master, it has several meanings. This image reflects me perfectly. There is an illustration with this character and there is a slogan saying ‘deeper roots, stronger branches’. This is about what I was talking about. You need to go deeper, analyze and understand your responsibility. This short slogan covers it all.
DK : It happens both ways. There are different approaches to design. There is an event driven design. Here the trend creates the design. Not necessarily for good, but this happens, you cannot deny it. Designers also influence much, from generation to generation. There is no such thing as something appeared from nothing. Therefore, any trend is some experience, reference, inspiration obtained from other projects, being processed. This continuity of generations is very important.
DK : I have realized that we do not use the technology directly. Of course, there are certain technologies of transferring images, for instance. Most of all, materials manufacturing technology influences us. Quality of materials matters. New materials show up, tools that make your work easier. In this respect it increases speed and quality of our work. The tool set and set of quality materials are sets of advanced technologies used by producers.
DK : The main one we use is Adobe Creative Cloud including Photoshop and Illustrator. There are others which allow to structure projects, manage projects. Mostly this is some basic office tools. Google Drive for data storage. Each software is used for certain tasks. Pictures on Google Photo. For our production we mostly need handwork. Software is just a tool allowing access to documents and files from any point, send and receive them. It is also necessary, it simplifies everything. But mostly our work involves handwork. We use minimum equipment, like aerial devices for working on high objects, different painting devices like compressors. We have the team of industrial climbers using more extended equipment - lifting devices, safety ropes. Paintbrushes and painting rollers mostly, spray paint was a key element in our culture. But many of us leave it behind while growing up. Now we use faсade and exterior paints which allow to produce more picturesque works. They are smoother and better fit the landscape.
DK : These are basic things. Working with colors is one of the aspects which lets me understand the quality of a person’s work. Working with architecture – how far a person sees beyond the borders of his canvas. How can he perceive the environment as a tip. What should be done here and with which colors. Quality materials provide quality product. The product will live longer. Color is a major requirement for environment. And the environment gives you key hints: where it is located, how it is used now, do we need to change people’s behavior within that space. This issue can be resolved with the help of artistic projects.
DK : I always hear questions about my projects, quite trivial ones. I want to hear a fresh question and think: why I have not asked this question myself?
DK : There is an immediate interest: how is it done? What is it and what is it for? There are questions that you cannot answer from the very beginning. Let me give you an example: there is a fountain in Czech Republic, a rotating layers sculpture of Kafka’s head. As a designer you start to analyze such projects in detail. You try to find out the essence, how was it done and what for? You want to dig deeper and answer your questions. If something is unfamiliar to you, you try to figure out the terminology. The more background information you get, the more practice you get for your thinking and your approach to your projects. And you also think, if you had such a project, what would be your approach? What would you offer? Certain fantasy that brings you some thoughts or ideas about your projects. And you immediately have your own ideas, not about creating a replica but just like ‘it would be interesting to do it like that’. And if you think about these issues ideas of new projects come up. And this is cool.
DK : I do believe in joint design. There is a point of growth here. Various collaborations are interesting. For me my wife is an ideal partner. She stops me when necessary, gives me tips, her constructive criticism is always useful.
DK : No matter how banal it may sound, it was my parents, most probably. Because a lot depends on the way you were brought up. Teaching taste does not occur momentarily. It is a very long process. When you are a kid, you do not choose things, you do not choose your house interior. Your parents do it for you. I always liked the fact that I was always asked whether I want it or not. If that related to me, I was definitely asked this question. And I had an understanding whether I wanted it or not. I could not deny my responsibility and claim that it was somebody else’s choice. That was my decision and that is how I was taught responsibility through this simple question. When we talk about new project with a new client, of course, the initial information carriers’ opinion has its influence. You must comprehend them and process this information. They apply to you because you have certain philosophy and strategy of doing each project. That is why my interaction with a client is related to that as well as my education. Your upbringing is your keystone telling you where to go as well as things like ‘you’d better reject this project, it does not match with your values’. The values you have are the deep criteria for evaluating situation as a whole and whether you want to do it or not.
DK : Before I read more of professional literature. Not too much, but I read about presentations, about colors. The books written by the classics of advertisement and design. Later it has become less of a priority. I think that fiction, mostly science fiction brought me those dreams about something big. SciFi is always built around some developing technology or they develop certain ideas. And this thinking, how much do you believe in what is written there although you understand that it does not exist. It influences you on a subconscious level.
DK : I have developed my skills mostly from practice. I do not have special education, therefore I always started doing something and then improved my theoretical knowledge. As far as the art history is concerned, for instance, I am still a newbie there although it relates to me directly. But I am not too proficient in that. I try to go deeper in that and look at it through time. The things that I do – maybe somebody has already done it. How was it done? Considering time related amendments, you look at other people’s experience. Practice is still the most exciting thing to do.
DK : I immediately remembered Nikola Tesla. The person living in seclusion. A very mysterious person, you want to find out more about him but cannot understand whether it is a phantasy or reality. I do not know how strong was his influence. There are other people, too. I am a very big fan of astronomy as an amateur. I was always very interested in films about astronomers. Carl Sagan, for instance. It was interesting to follow Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It is important that these people can present information. Nikola Tesla is a mythical character and you cannot say something definite about him. And this is what attracts me to him. Among the people living – Banksy, the street artist. I would not call myself a big fan of his, but I am interested in his development strategy. How he balances on that line between society and art.
DK : I do have a nice feeling about the award. I have come across such situations related to my projects. There is always some interest to my projects from mass media, and that is a part of my work, too. You get used to it to a certain extent. The perspectives arising are much more exciting and inspiring. You start thinking: what will this award give me? Not necessarily now, but maybe in a year, or five, or ten years. You already have this experience when you get an interesting project and you start investigating where does it come from and it turns out that the source was one of the smaller projects. The award is a kind of a trigger for circumstances to occur in the future.
DK : 45.My favorite places are Barcelona, Spain and Cintra, Portugal, Switzerland as a whole. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to see Matterhorn. But that makes this place worth coming back to. Tastes change, because quite recently I have become a vegetarian. In the meantime, the colors which are in our corporate style are my favorite. Sometimes you get tired from something, it is called accommodation, adjustment of a living organism to permanent stimulus. That comes from my professional education as medical equipment engineer. And I believe similar accommodation exists in the society. People get adjusted to all things, both good and bad. And that is why the purpose of our projects is to shake them up a little bit to have another look and perceive things not only literally. I like abstractions because they are more diverse, you can interpret them differently. This comes overtime. At a certain level you do not understand it, try to sort it out and discover the world being incomprehensible before.
DK : 46.It happened during FIFA 2018 Football World Cup in the city of Kazan. Our proposal to paint portraits of the football players on the walls was supported by the city. Initially we did it for the Confederations Cup in 2017. Our work received a huge coverage. I did not know why but that was a hit. That was a portrait of Cristiano Ronaldo painted before the Portuguese team arrival for the Confederations Cup. The idea was supported the next year, and we started to paint football superstars who came to Kazan. These included Messi, Neymar, Modric. And people started to notice a rule: those teams whose captains were painted, lost their games and left the Cup. It looked like a very precise prognosis. People started calling it ‘a cursed graffiti’. It was not a graffiti, but paintings on the wall but people saw certain connection. We painted Neymar’s portrait in front of the hotel where the team stayed. We were almost finished, we were standing on the balcony of the hotel and saw Neymar himself looking out of the window. We asked him: Is that you, Neymar? He said ‘yes’. We asked him whether we can make a video. He agreed. He could not leave the room, so he sent his cameraman and the photographer to us. These guys were professionals accompanying team Brazil. They made the final photos, made a video for the team’s YouTube channel. That was the improvisation we could not expect. Unfortunately, the Brazilian team also lost and left the championship. After that Kazan’s municipality decided that there is nobody else to paint but they were desperate to support the Russian team. And prior to the play-off game Croatia vs Russia they asked us to paint a portrait of Luka Modric, Croatian team captain. When I was painting it, people standing on the balconies screamed ‘Dima, paint it!’ and it was live on the Internet. It was sort of our responsibility that if we paint a ‘cursed portrait’ of the Croatian team captain, Russian team will win. We could not finish it because timeframe was very tough. Russian team lost and people had decided that it was because we had not finished Modric’s portrait. I was talking to a friend the other day, he did analytics and followed the events. And he told me: ‘You will see, Modric will get a Golden Ball’ (World Cup Best Player Award). I was interviewed by a sports TV channel and they asked me what results I expected. I said that Modric would get a Golden Ball. And it happened. Since then, they started calling me a predictor, a Vanga (Vanga was the famous Bulgarian clairvoyant). And this Oracles status helps me sometimes. If something goes wrong, I say ‘you remember my predictions? You’d better not be kidding with me’. This is just a funny story, but it really affected our reputation and had become a trend. It is good to have the reputation of a person who knows the future.
DK : It is when you have an idea and you start implementing it. But it is moved to the next day and you wake up inspired to complete it or just to have a fresh look on it. This exciting feeling when you work on a new project and you are inspired by it and you are ready to go on doing it first thing in the morning. The desire to bring a project to life is what motivates me.
DK : Of course not. At that moment you did things that was fun for you. I liked drawing. There was no such word as design at that time. The Internet was not in place yet, and the information environment was different. Kids like to have dreams to become somebody. I did not have them.
DK : My personal experience proves that you re-evaluate things every 6 months: where to go, what to do, is it really interesting for you. You cannot see as far as 1000 years ahead. And even 1000 years on a scale of Universe is a short period. You never know what happens next. AI is the latest technological development. Maybe there will be something related to that. A lot of books were written about that. I cannot think as a SciFi writer. I try to look at things from more pragmatic point of view. Yes, I will have a look at global things in the future, but I will consider them from the standpoint of the present or short-term future.
DK : I have been doing street art for twenty years. And this was my hobby for quite a while. I have also been doing sports, 14 years of full contact karate. I have been doing some music, I can play guitar. Now I do it mostly for my own pleasure. Street art, among these three, has become a dominating hobby.
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