The last decade has seen the Russian real-estate market plummet. Yet interest in Italian design has remained constant – and one of the most popular architects in the country is Marco Piva, who has been able to adapt to the changing tastes and needs of Russian clients. As a result, his quintessentially Italian products have become the stars of the show in private residences and tourist spaces alike.
What kind of stylistic and product design changes have you noticed in Russia and the surrounding markets since 2008?
Many things have changed in Russia over the past decade. The geopolitical situation has drastically reduced activity in the real-estate market, which was very dynamic. That had a considerable knock-on effect on the design, interiors and product design sectors. However, the situation did nothing to dampen Russian interest in design, especially Italian design. After a period in which “classic” and luxury styles had basically absolute popularity among a huge class of newly rich Russians created as a result of Russia’s opening to free-market economics, there is a growing focus on more authentic, innovative, practical and even emotional design styles.
My design activities, which range from masterplanning to architecture via interior design and product design, reflect this trend. In Russia, our latest projects are all about tapping into qualities like efficiency, sustainability and technical and design innovation.
Has your experience of operating in these markets changed the way you think about products or approach interior design?
As I’ve already said, the situation regarding interior design and design in general has changed considerably, even as regards the rather limited number of Russian producers.
The luxury real-estate market, which is the driving force behind the interior design sector, has massively slowed down and spending budgets which once ran into the millions have been cut considerably.
This situation has seen the Russian market switch its attention to simpler, cheaper and more efficient products, but they still want the highest quality in terms of interiors and the objects and accessories that go into them.
Younger Russian consumers with disposable income are striving for less formal, more dynamic lifestyles and are more open to experimentation. It’s something they look for at home, and – above all – overseas.
I think that explains the interest in my architectural projects and Italian design products, which have attracted attention and surprised people. Thankfully, they’ve been welcomed into the changing day-to-day lives of Russian people at home and snapped up by cutting edge tourist spaces.