Interview with Natalia Komarova

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Natalia Komarova (NK) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Natalia Komarova by clicking here.

Interview with Natalia Komarova at Friday 1st of May 2020
Natalia Komarova
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
NK: My pathway to designing has been quite long. In general, I have been fond of drawing and art since I was 13 years old. Initially, I received another education. While studying at the university I went to study as a professional photographer. Then I realized that creative profession is closer to me. For many years I have been interested in design, fashion and architecture and I was mainly inspired by the talent of people in this field. Then I decided to devote my life to design and put together a team of people who also appreciate art and design as I do, which helps me to create unique furniture.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
NK: The studio was founded in 2013 in St. Petersburg and was first engaged in professional photography and post processing. Since 2016, the studio launched a new direction - design of interiors and products. The company's goal is to create a positive mood and a warm atmosphere through furniture and decorative elements. We do not strive to take a large number of projects, so we can devote enough attention and time to each individual project. Despite the small staff, the workflow is organized as efficiently as possible, and the tasks are performed in time. The philosophy of our work and creativity is based on finding a perfect interior for each person. Spaces in which we exist affect us, our mood, activity, inspiration. Properly organized space in a right color scheme, with thoughtful lighting and exquisite accessories can unlock the potential of a person and increase the stability of life. We pay special attention to each element of an interior, analyze all the features of a room, conduct thorough interviews with the client and prepare detailed terms of reference to not miss anything.

FS: What is "design" for you?
NK: I would not attribute it to a certain professional sphere. Design surrounds us, permeates our whole life. Every person outside his professional life decides how he wants to live, what he lets into and all this can be called the design of his life.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
NK: I prefer designing upholstered furniture, lamps and chandeliers. The design of tables and chairs also makes me very interested. An important role in my work is played by the design of fashion accessories: watches, sunglasses and bags. The idea is to create a complete image of a client through offering him complementary elements of interior and wardrobe.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
NK: I find it difficult to answer this question, because every project that I do has a part of me. Therefore I would not like to single out any particular project.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
NK: I started with the design of one-story houses for the village near the city where I live. These were private orders from familiar people who bought a piece of land and wanted to build a house with an interesting design for themselves.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
NK: I really respect and appreciate natural materials such as stone, leather, wood and all kinds of metals - I use them whenever possible. I really like the technology of making terrazzo and the possibilities that this material gives. I also do not refuse modern synthetic fabrics and polymers. Eclectic combinations of materials and their bold use in a non-standard key seem to me the most appropriate when working with modern design.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
NK: I have the greatest creativity in times of greatest experiences and trials. In some ways, creativity for me is a way to break free from the routine of everyday life, a way to express myself when it seems that everything is not going as it should. Sometimes inspiration comes suddenly in the middle of the night and then I can't fall asleep until I define the image in my head in a specific frame.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
NK: In the first place is the idea. It must be fresh and clear so that everyone can understand it, evaluate the usefulness and functionality of the new product. In the process of design, I first work on the form, then think through the materials, color and overall appearance.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
NK: When I design, I can experience different emotions. Sometimes interesting ideas come in stressful situations, seemingly at the very wrong time. But the process of creativity always inspires and helps to feel my significance, because I understand that with my projects I can make people's lives better. Awareness of this makes me happy and helps to move on.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
NK: When my design is realized, I feel both joy and excitement. There is always a chance that something will go wrong, but when I complete the process and see that everything is going right, true satisfaction and happiness descends on me. It is nice to understand when your project succeeds and is interesting to people.

FS: What makes a design successful?
NK: In my opinion, in order for a design to become successful, it needs to be catchy and bold. There are a lot of secondary and mediocre ones, and we must be able to stand out from this gray mass. My approach is to think over everything to the smallest details. Functionality, shape, color, material - all this needs to be repeatedly analyzed and, if necessary, redone, until something truly worthy is obtained. And the idea of the project should always be directed to the client in order to evoke an emotional response.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
NK: The first thing is of course the impression that the design makes on me. It happens on a subconscious level within the first few seconds. If the design catches and forces to hold the view, I begin to analyze it, to assume how it was made. I am very attracted to the simplicity and integrity of the design. "All ingenious is simple" - I completely agree with this statement. Conversely, I do not like too complex, fussy and overloaded design, when it is difficult to understand what is in front of you and why it may be needed.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
NK: As far as I can tell, being a designer means being a creative person. So, designers, like creative people in general, with their creativity, with their projects, it seems to me, should improve the cultural life of the whole society. With their ideas they can move progress, set new directions for development. Their role is very important in society globally also because through their creativity they can draw people's attention to really important problems. For example, there are more and more designers who appeal to the problem of ecology. There are wonderful people who produce their products from recycled materials and the result of their work is a first-class product that carries an important idea. We are responsible for the place where we live, and we must take care of the environment, and it is very important to inculcate such an attitude to future generations.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
NK: The most characteristic trend of genuine design supported by advanced design artists is the desire to design not individual things, but whole complexes in shape. By changing and harmonizing the environment that surrounds us and they make a feasible contribution to the development of advanced human culture. Design is not at all indifferent to ideology and the designer is always faced with artistic tasks, one way or another connected with his personal worldview and with the dominant ideology. Therefore, his works always carry a certain ideological burden, promoting and, to a certain extent, predetermining one or another way of life. Now the idea of environmental protection is actively developing and it seems to me that it will occupy one of the fundamentally important positions in the design world.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
NK: Since I have not participated in exhibitions at the time, I cannot tell about past experiences. But this year there is a strong desire to participate.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
NK: Through textbooks, I learn a lot about the history of human culture. In addition, I try to follow the modern trends in design through news magazines and YouTube. There are some designers whose work and creative way inspire me a lot and I really want to be in their company one day. Successful creative people and outstanding design fuel my own creativity and give strength to move on.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
NK: I would characterize my style as eclectic, with an emphasis on positive mood. I like to bring joy to people and I try to make bright furniture that causes pleasant emotions among customers. I try to look at familiar pieces of furniture in a new way.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
NK: I live in Russia. It seems to me that cultural heritage of your country and the environment definitely influences a person’s thinking style and how his creativity is manifested. The profession of a designer in Russia is not only to provide design services, but also usually to explain the importance and value of these services. In terms of style, once we even used the motifs of Russian folklore in the creation and design of the Fairytale furniture collection. Nevertheless, predominantly I try focus on European and American designers as the most free-thinking people who have achieved great success. In this regard, life in Russia has had a slight effect on the formation of my style, since mostly I do not draw a source of inspiration here.

FS: How do you work with companies?
NK: Now I'm just starting to build relationships with manufacturing companies. We agree on the possibility of personal communication, or through a telephone conversation, to discuss the details: the level of quality, problems in manufacturing, the cost of production and timing. It is important for me that the final products be of high quality and look at the level of European brands.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
NK: To choose the right designer, first of all you need to analyze his projects, view the portfolio and determine how long he has been working in this area. But analysis of the work alone is not enough, it is necessary to hold conversations with a person, to define his fundamental qualities as a designer — then it will become clear whether this person is suitable or not.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
NK: My design process begins with a certain idea and goal to embody it. Further the form in which the idea will be clothed is determined. After that, I begin to work on the formalization in the right materials and color. Often, I make adjustments at a certain stage or redo a project from scratch, if I understand that I am very far from the original goal. It also happens that one idea in the design process is transformed into another, more thoughtful and perfect. But I try not to spend too much time thinking through the idea, because I am convinced that the correct timing is the key to a successful design. As a rule, the right decisions on ideas embodiment come to me in the first hours of work, and if I haven’t been able to determine them for a long time, it turns out that I’m doing something wrong and maybe the idea needs to be reconsidered or I need to start working on another one.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
NK: First of all - lamps. They make our life more comfortable and properly selected lighting can greatly change the atmosphere at home. Armchair - living room without beautiful and comfortable armchairs will not transmit the character and inner world of their owners. Carpets are a special kind of artwork with which you can create an incredible design and they will make a room special. Tableware - a holiday or a family dinner is the best time when everyone gathers at one table. Decor and qualitative dishes can further enhance these emotions. Doors - can not only properly zone a space and act as a partition. More and more often they act as a decoration and improve the aesthetics of space.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
NK: As a director of a small company, every day I do a lot of diverse work, not only related to design, but also organizational. Morning begins with a cup of tea and making a list of what needs to be done in a day. Then I give instructions to my employees, and I myself begin to think over the ideas for future projects. I try to make a maximum in the morning, while my work ability is at its peak. During this time, I usually manage to come up with an interesting idea and how to implement it. After lunch, I take feedback from co-workers, we find out what works out and what doesn't. After a bit of discussion, everyone continues to do their work, and I begin to deal with organizational tasks, prepare reports, presentations for manufacturers, etc. During the day, I try to distribute the load so that there is time to study the latest developments in the world of design and fashion, I try always to be aware of the latest news.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
NK: I would advise a young designer to set specific goals. You need to be a strong and courageous person to be ready to defend your position and not turn from the intended path. Being a designer means being constantly in search, this is not an easy way and it will sometimes seem like nothing is working out and everything is in vain. At such moments it is important to remember why you started designing, what goal you set for yourself.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
NK: Being a designer is definitely good for a creative person. You can express yourself through your work and benefit society. Such an activity cannot be called routine, because the situation and conditions are very changeable and one has to face new challenges of the time. This also leads to negatives, since not everyone is ready to work in a constantly changing creative environment. There are failures, after which it is difficult to find strength for further creativity, and the nature of design requires constant progress and development.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
NK: I follow the rule of constant evolution. Ideally each subsequent project should be better than the previous one. First of all you need to grow above yourself. The ability to design like any other skill only partly depends on a person’s predisposition. To a large extent this is the result of a long and unceasing practice. Therefore, you need to work a lot to train your brain and look for new sources of inspiration.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
NK: A designer needs to be able to correctly process information and transform it into something original. It is important to find your chip, which would distinguish your projects from a large number of works. A designer must be able to properly distribute his time. To be organized and to be able to set tasks correctly I consider as very useful qualities for a creative person. In addition, the designer will greatly benefit from the ability to recover from failures, be confident in his potential and boldly go forward.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
NK: First of all, I work with pencils, markers and paper. The process of drawing and sketching helps determine the future project and understand what can come of it. Then I work in 3d max, where I create a three-dimensional model of the desired, pick up a set of materials and several color options. In the process of creation, I often use references to better represent the details of the project. This helps to correctly expose light, color and composition to effectively prepare a work for further presentation. After creating a visualization, I adjust an image in Photoshop to give maximum photographicity and add certain artistic effects. During a design process, I often refer to magazines and blogs about design to keep track of the latest trends and understand what is relevant at the current time.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
NK: The process of creating design projects consists of several stages. The first stage consists of communication with a customer, identifying his needs. After this, we start a compilation of technical specifications, a preparation of mindboards to determine the stylistic features of the future interior or product. After that there is a selection of materials to be used in the project and, if necessary, a layout of a room for the interior. Based on this, sketches are prepared. After approval by the client, the tasks are distributed among the project team members for project development. After discussion with the client and consultation with the technologist, improvements are made to the project and the final result is transferred to the client or manufacturer.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
NK: It all depends on the project and the scope of the task. We manage to work on some projects within a month, and some take up to a year, especially when it comes to complex projects.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
NK: Most often people ask questions on materials of our products. People are interested in tactility, comfort and aesthetic qualities of a material chosen for a particular product. One of the most important aspects in the work of a designer is working with materials. They bedd to be not only of high quality, but also tactilely pleasant, and organically fit into an atmosphere of space.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
NK: Each project teaches us something. I experienced the brightest emotions on the first project when I still did not know much and could not foresee. It was a very exciting process of working with the client. The most important thing that I understood is that you need to listen very carefully to your customers, to be on the same wavelength with them. Only with the opportunity to mentally understand a client one achieve a good result. The first project clearly showed that I lack these abilities and I need to learn.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
NK: Our clients are young and middle-aged people who want to make their lives more colorful. They value uniqueness in themselves and in the outside world. And we try to display their exclusivity in our projects. We consider them to be our partners in the implementation of projects and always try to listen to their ideas.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
NK: Most of all I like to work on creating furniture collections. This process allows to fully express my creativity and introduce unusual combinations of forms and materials.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
NK: I plan to expand my team, improve my professional level. I hope that I can develop beautiful interiors and furniture that will outlast me. Perhaps my path will inspire even more people to be bold and go towards their goal to do what they love.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
NK: At first I worked alone, but gradually like-minded people began to appear around me. Now I can delegate some of my duties and deal with the most basic ones. My small team supports me and helps to keep the right course.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
NK: Now we are developing a collection of designer handbags. For us, this is a new experience that brings only positive emotions.

FS: How can people contact you?
NK: Our company has an account in instagram - @interiors_photos. In addition, we are constantly developing our website - It has all the necessary contact information and a link to our design information blog, which we began to conduct a year ago in parallel with the main work -

FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.

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