Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Pitch Bureau ("PB") 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.
PB : My name is Boris Kislitsin and I am a creative director of Pitch (pitch.ru/en), a Moscow based creative engineering bureau, that works at the juncture of new media, multimedia technologies and art. The company was founded by me with Dmitriy Napolnov, my partner and our chief technical officer in 2015. Both of us have 2 MAs each: I have degrees in Russian linguistics and Law and Dmitriy Napolnov in English literature and Programming. My education gave me a good base to start, however, by the end of my studies I have understood that I want to do different things in life. So I set up a company but then took a year off and traveled on a shoestring in Asia, a hardcore trip that spanned from Russian Siberia to Mongolia, China, Nepal and India. It has completely changed my perspective: upon return I quit business and have decided to find my true purpose. So I have joined a German traveling theater, and things started to develop from that - then learned to juggle and unicycle, later - to paint. I thought that I found myself and for 5 years pursued an artistic career in London, though to a little success. After that I worked as a copywriter in creative agency, then for few years as a teacher in a temple school in rural Thailand, later taught in one of the Bangkok’s universities. Later I moved to Japan for a year, mostly thinking, taking care of my family and writing a book - but all this time I have considered myself as a self-taught artist, and still believe so. In 2010 I have returned to Russia joining a multimedia production company and then helped to set up a free online course on multimedia content creation. At some point I have recognized that I want to actually do something practical instead of teaching people how to do it and started to work as multidisciplinary producer with interests spanning from video mapping to interactive installations and from architectural light to AR and VR. In one of the companies I have worked I got acquainted with Dmitriy Napolnov, who was a CTO in one of the best Russian companies that created CG and produced content and developed shows for all kinds of events - from car presentations to music gigs. Before that Dmitriy was a technical director in a global music distribution company and a programmer in a film production company. He was a pure technical genius, so when I was commissioned to take charge of multimedia production in a huge museum project in development in St. Petersburg, Russia, I knew whom I wanted to make the most technologically advanced museum in Russia with. So we became business partners and were together since and that’s one of the best things that has happened to me. So generally speaking, we are both self-taught and learned design by doing, but, of course, it’s all a team work. Currently there are more than 30 highly qualified professionals in various fields in Pitch: from engineers to copywriters, concept artists and 3D modelers. Surely most of them have related education, but it’s not always the case. If you have passion for something, you can always learn things on your own, as in our case: we were one of the pioneers in multimedia design and engineering, and if we wanted to study it, there were simply no places where we could get our education as it was all brand new.
PB : Despite the fact that we were awarded for a large scale permanent light and sound urban show (actually first of its kind in Russia), our main area of interest is museum production. Both Dmitriy and I wanted to do some things that would be of cultural interest and importance, while being hard and challenging - and tried to go beyond one-off commercial shows. I guess we are still driven by the notion to make something more and more complex, challenging and on a bigger scale, something that contributes and gives something good to people. I like to believe that we aim to have a positive impact on others lives in all the projects we take: be it an outstanding museum visit experience or other projects, like the Heart of Siberia, for which we were awarded. And it seems working - the area that we have worked in Krasnoyarsk after the project’s completion has nearly immediately transformed from quite a dangerous place with a bad reputation into kind of a hype neighborhood and cultural hub. People come here with families now and feel proud for being locals. So our motivation is simple: we want to improve people lives and conditions while growing professionally and having fun in the process.
PB : You do not get forced to do things you love. I believe that nothing good can come out, if you are forced to do it. So I wasn’t forced to become a designer, though I have never expected to become one and do not really consider myself as such. I rather thought about my work as about public art practice and just did what I enjoyed most, dreamt of creating new ideas and ways to communicate, ideally doing something that was never done before - be it things small or large. Years on, it seems like a valid approach.
PB : Though we do all kinds of bespoke multimedia solutions - from record-breaking drone shows to huge urban installations, we mainly focus on designing permanent museum exhibitions and love to do it. In my opinion, there is nothing more challenging, hard and compelling in the field then museum design. You just need to take so many things in the account and create a unique experience as a result. So despite the fact that we are multi-disciplinary and produce more or less everything - objects design, light and scenic design, CG, AR, VR, etc. - you name it, I believe that these technologies are just tools for designing unique and immersive user experiences we are interested in most. So I would say, we do experience design.
PB : Young designers should love what they do, dream big, be persistent, have ambitions and think out of box. There is a lot of hard work behind every success story and the passion is the key. There is no universal recipe for success, but if you believe in yourself and what you do and try to improve every day, it always comes with time. There is could be a luck, but never a miracle - regular practice makes perfect.
PB : A great designer is always a visionary. His ideas are revolutionary or contagious - he/ she beats the path for other designers who follow it.
PB : Good design is something that serves its purpose. A really good design enhances this purpose and makes people actually want to have, to use or to experience it.
PB : The value of good design is experience. It shapes the purpose and shapes a message that should be delivered in the most enhancing and effective way. Good design is not necessarily an expensive design - such things like a fork or a spoon, for instance, are used for centuries, but still they do not change. If an object can not be improved and still be useful widely and for a long period of time, this is a good design. Investing in good design not only give you emotional feedback and pleasure of having it, but often can save time, money or simply last longer.
PB : I dream of designing an immersive space or museum there people could have experiences that would work simultaneously with all sensory organs creating unforgettable sensations. As I was always attracted to travel, so I would like to design a car, a yacht or a spaceship. But actually I would be most happy to design something that people will find useful and could use every day. Something that you never thought you need but apparently can not live without.
PB : A teleportation unit.
PB : Love what you do, do your best, improve every day and try to make it remarkable.
PB : Philip Stark, Zaha Hadid and Ferdinand Porsche.
PB : VW Beetle designed by Ferdinand Porsche - probably it is the most iconic and recognizable design object of all times. It is affordable, functional, has a distinctive look and individuality. Apart of it, it is the most mass-produced car in history, produced without revision of the basic design for nearly 70 years. Bauhaus chess by Josef Hartwig - for their characteristically reduced forms which, in symbols based purely on the function and form of the maneuver of each piece. Eames lounge chair with ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames. It’s one of the most instantly-recognizable pieces from the 20th century, very comfortable and still looks just as fresh now as the day it was released.
PB : I never fully satisfied with the designs that we produced, so I believe our best design is yet still to come.
PB : You need to think on how you can improve form and functionality. Take one object a day, no matter, what is it - a book, a car or a hat - and try to re-think it and make it better.
PB : I would probably become a writer, an artist or a chess player.
PB : For me design is a physical form of a function that stays behind, an idea that takes a material shape.
PB : We would never make it without a team. It is of utmost importance to work with the best and most talented people you can find and hire.
PB : Firstly, you need to have a big dream and ambition. Secondly, you should believe in yourself. Lastly, you should educate yourself constantly as well - by reading books, learning new things, and try to improve your skills and performance daily. You wouldn’t believe the results in just one year time, if you will try to improve or do something better for 1% only day after day. It doesn’t look so difficult - just to perform better for 1% a day, but such an attitude works miracles.
PB : I would say it’s fear, laziness and lack of time and money. There are some moments when you are just about to give up, but as an old proverb goes - always remember that the night is the darkest just before the sunrise. At times you can feel yourself hopeless or just think that you are not made for this job. But then you ponder about the long rocky path you’ve gone to come to this point and think that it would be just stupid to give up now. You never know what would happen next. So arm yourself with persistence.
PB : It depends on the kind of work you present and the audience you present it to. But it’s always a good idea to make it in a way that will impress you client: if you design a museum space, make it a physical scaled model or a 3D tour in VR. If it’s an object - it’s good to show a prototype, physical or virtual, and so on. Check out how big companies such as Apple or Samsung present their products - it’s always a bit of a show. So make it unique and outstanding, even if it is a one man show.
PB : We have a few museum projects now in production. So it wouldn’t be an object design, but rather an experience design.
PB : We live in the times of personification and individually crafted objects and experiences. In the future there will be your individual pills that works exactly for you based on your DNA test and health record, individually 3d printed outfits, original music created by AI based on your listening preferences and habits and so on. I would love to create a museum space based on experience that will be ever changing and would adjust the visitor path and contents provided - thus, every visitor will have a different experience from others and even from his previous visit based on what he has learnt and his interests.
PB : I don’t think that people have expectations from us or that many people follow our work so closely, eagerly anticipating new works, but probably they expect new approaches to interactivity and storytelling.
PB : A good design always contributes something to society - both in terms of empowering lives, convenience, comfort, usability and in terms of opening new opportunities for other design and products.
PB : We are currently working on a creative concept for memorial park on the place where the space capsule of Yuri Gagarin, the first man who went to space, landed. This is a very exciting project and it is a big honor for us to be commissioned it.
PB : The most satisfaction you have from the hardest and most complex project, such as the project we were awarded for. When you start working on a project of such scale, you think that it’s nearly impossible and overwhelmed by the scope of the task, but then it’s over - you feel satisfied, relieved, but also a bit sad what it’s finished.
PB : I would like to see more collaborations and interdisciplinary projects, changing a notion of what is possible and erasing borders between real and virtual.
PB : Design is going to be more phygital (combining physical and digital objects as new means of communication). Design is going to be AI-assisted. The learning curve for many tools will be easier and there will be an array of instruments that would assist people in achieving the exact results they want. The manufacturing is changing as well, so we will see more custom bespoke designs and products.
PB : It depends on the product and can take from few days for a single object to months and years for complex and time consuming projects, such as a museum exposition design.
PB : We normally start from setting up a working team for the project and research.
PB : Don’t work hard, work smart. Also, keep it simple.
PB : I believe that everything that we can see around or sensory comprehend is a design, thus originally trends follow designs as they are based on them, but surely it works both ways. It’s ever-changing and enriching duality that moves things forward.
PB : Technology is both a design instrument and its means. No design nowadays can be produced without technology, even on the conception stage - in the end, even a pencil and paper on which you made a rough sketch are pieces of technology, though basic. And you can produce virtually nothing without tools, which are also a product of technology and technological means.
PB : It depends on the tasks - as we are multidisciplinary creative engineering bureau we use an array of software - from Adobe Creative Suite to 3D Max, Cinema and AutoCAD. Surely there is also Microsoft Office package for copywriters and project leads, different programs for CRM, communication and remote collaboration. There are just too many of them to mention in the same way as there are different tasks we work on. Same applies to the equipment. At times, when we can not find proper software or equipment, we just create them on our own to tackle the tasks and issues we are having.
PB : Color, materials and ambient are look and feel, appearance of a product. They make people actually want to use your design.
PB : I think a good design is self-explanatory.
PB : I normally feel joy and aesthetic satisfaction. I also think what it could mean for my work or if it could be used as a reference for future projects.
PB : An ideal design partner is someone whom you can learn from and someone who contributes to your idea, making it better. I do believe in co-design and collaborations that come from good communication. It's always a win-win.
PB : There is no one such person. But I would say the most influential were books - there are too many of them to mention depending on the field, but it’s always a good idea to start from basics and deep into related areas. Also it’s very important to see things and experience them. I believe that impressions and life experiences are one of the best teachers.
PB : Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler The Design Funnel: A Manifesto for Meaningful Design by Stephen Hay Designing Design by Kenya Hara Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Affects Design by Aaris Sherin 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman
PB : Experience, communication, good people in the team to put it short. I do believe in 10 000 hours rule - that’s an amount of time one needs to spend to master something.
PB : Leonardo da Vinci, Gautama Buddha and Wassily Kandinsky.
PB : I do not feel myself nor our company famous. The awards and recognition are nice, but fame or money shouldn’t be the driving force behind what you do. So you just need to love what you do and keep going.
PB : I like green as the most difficult and black as universal and very rich color, that contains all over colors. My favorite place is in mountains or by the ocean, my favorite food is sushi, I like early spring and autumn, my favorite thing is my laptop and a favorite brand - well, there is no such, but as I like out-of-box thinking and experiments with decomposition it might be Rick Owens.
PB : Once I was asked by my mom to design a mousetrap that wouldn’t torture or kill a mouse, but will keep it captive so it can be freed somewhere outside her country house.
PB : I do not motivate myself. There are things that should be done and I just do it. If I am stuck with something, I just switch to a different task, but seeing the results of your work and people's appreciation is surely a thing that can make your day great.
PB : Not at all. I wanted to be a native Indian chief, a marine biologist or maybe an astronaut if I wouldn’t make it with the first two options.
PB : I believe that we witness the last years of non-augmented human history. The future is now and we can not foresee even what will happen in the next 50, do not mention a 1000 years. I believe that singularity is unavoidable, so in the future probably we will have not just humans, but genetically modified and technologically augmented hybrid race that would have an entirely different view on time, humanity and our history.
PB : Specialization is for insects — that’s why knowing, traveling and experiencing a lot really matters.
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