Ilya Ruderman (IR): Misha, you have to remember this, back when we embarked on yet another Afisha’s rebranding, you were working with a couple of typefaces — namely, Afisha Grotesk and New Baskerville. Why did you decide you needed a new serif?
Mikhail Smetana (MS): Because New Baskerville had been really restraining us with its baroque character, not letting us misbehave. And we wanted to!
IR: I used to love your New Baskerville layout. It was virtually the only media where New Baskerville — exactly with its baroqueness, — looked truly great. It had some kind of balance: everything felt so right about it.
MS: Yes, this was all Irochka (Irina Voloshina, art director at Afisha company from 1999 to 2013 — editor’s note). Irochka did great.
New Baskerville in Afisha magazine, January 2000
Alexander Tarbeev (AT): And yet the balance doesn’t depend on typeface.
MS: Right. It’s just that at some point we all agreed that we had enough of telling the same joke over and over. We wanted to try something new.
IR: What made you you turn to Alexander Vladimirovich Tarbeev for a new font, exactly? Do you remember that?
AT: The same question from me, where did Tarbeev come from?
MS: We’d been asking people around us.
IR: Look, Yura is actively gesticulating to show that it was him.
Yury Ostromentsky (YO): It was me who brought Alexander Vladimirovich to the publisher upon this request for a serif for Bolshoy Gorod magazine (Big City in Russian) — BigCity font, the one that neither of you remembers.
BigCity by Alexander Tarbeev in Bolshoi Gorod magazine, Octover 2011
IR: Did Alexander Vladimirovich already have sketches for Gauge at the start of the project?
MS: I’m pretty sure that he did. This was the Gauge, and at that moment it was already in such a form that you could have discerned its typographic expressiveness.
IR: You were given demo versions that you immediately began to test in work mode?
AT: No, I had carried some printouts on me.
MS: At first it were the prints, but at some point we were already developing the layouts using font test files.
AT: But we don’t talk the first version: that one was sharp and uncomfortable. While we were discussing printouts, I was asked to design the exact same thing, but a bit more human…
MS: The exact same thing, but much better.
AT: Less mechanistic.
IR: Can you perhaps find the sketch of the first draft? To illustrate the interview?
AT: I’m no Dutch, I have no attic! And I am not used to save copies in a new file, with the date, each time I make any changes. Although, recently I started working exactly this way; I retired — and apparently has become more thoughtful and careful.
MS: Perhaps it was the first font ever with the Cyrillic as interesting as the Latin. At the same time, it was completely obvious that this font was not adapted — and that its Cyrillic set wasn’t designed later than the Latin, as it happens usually. This was a quite natural thing, organic and expressive.
AT: Personally, when I start designing a font, everything about it becomes very clear at the moment I create a lower-case A. Even though Misha says that Latin didn’t come first, the truth is…
MS: That is not what I’m saying. I’m saying that it was not created residually; it was obvious that two things were conceived somehow together, you know.
AT: That’s true. I always have them, how shall I put it, being born together, — even though the Latin symbols tend to appear first.
MS: We immediately started to use Afisha Serif on our covers, and as a display. It was important for us. First of all, because it was our font exclusively, — it belonged only to us, and so we could have had afforded it. It added some kind of uniqueness to what we were doing. Secondly, it was expressive enough to support large font sizes, but not too expressive to impose the whole style — as it was the case with New Baskerville. And thirdly, it seemed an interesting idea at that time to apply an almost text typeface as a display one.
IR: I recall this effect of Afisha Serif. It has these internal fractures in its shapes which we agreed, among each other, to consider Dutch, even though I am not really sure that is correct. At text sizes, these fractures are hidden — you don’t really notice them, as they become the text’s texture. But at larger sizes, this complexity becomes increasingly vivid. And this property is exactly what helped us use a seemingly text typeface for display work, am I right?
AT: Yes, absolutely. Man, isn’t it nice to deal with smart graphic designers? They get everything.
IR: Here’s another thing I find really exciting. Despite the fact that during these 15 years many designers were given an opportunity to approach these files — a lot of people worked at Afisha, since production was massive, we sent out to printing offices, — we never saw those files being used by anyone else. Afisha was able to build on its image very tightly linked to this particular serif.
AT: Oh, once I came across a funny thread on LiveJournal. The guy asked where he could download Afisha Serif, and the answer was: “Dude, are you insane? Are you perhaps planning to use it for making up Afisha pages, or what?” Something like that.
IR: Did you have the small caps right from the start? Or it was designed later, upon your request?
MS: I think we had it with New Baskerville, and there were actively used when I joined the team. Irochka infected me with this affection. — And the rest is history. We did wanted it.
IR: Alexander Vladimirovich, I know that you are a big fan of small caps in Cyrillic, too.
AT: Why wouldn’t I be? Everyone else has it, why can’t we? That’s just fair.
IR: I get a lot of questions from Western type designers: “Ilya, but why translating this much caps to three different cases? You still have the same design for all of them”.
AT: Back when I studied at Polygraphic Institute, Maxim Zhukov once invited American calligraphers to the school. After checking the Russian printed text, one of them said: “At least now I get why you type everything in caps”. Well, it is actually a question for our Peter the Great, but still. You know, there is a book called Hart’s Rules. A few years ago I read in it that there was no capitals in Russian-typed text. Not used. The thing is that shortly before that I walked through the Donskoye Cemetery with my students — taking pictures of the tombs to get ideas for our projects, and there I photographed really nice small caps in Russian, more than once. Robert Bringhurst also shrugs when it comes to Cyrillic capitals.
IR: And when did you come up with Caption?
MS: We also wanted to have it initially. We certainly needed the thing for small sizes, that’s for sure.
IR: Afisha Grotesk had a condensed face which we used exactly for any small reference materials — whereas Serif had quite a wide face for small sizes.
AT: Because for having a more concise font, you have to make it wider, fatter, to bring in more white, — then it will work out in small sizes. (Laughs). And as I recall, this was the idea of Ira Voloshina. We were, like, “Why not carry out such an experiment? Everyone thinks that small-size fonts are feasible only if it’s sans serif, but we are going to create a serif for the small size”.
IR: Did you come up with multiple versions?
AT: No, I never come up with many versions. Anything I create I create in a blink of an eye, but it takes many years.
IR: Have you tested Caption on different sizes? I remember to check it at some point: back then it supported four points, all while being readable.
MS: We tested the thing at printing office: because printing out on a printer is one thing, offset is another.
AT: You actually managed to reduce the size, comparing to what you had earlier, and at the same time to fit more text in the exact same amount of columns.
Daria Yarzhambek (DY): I feel like making a special mention of Display. I remember it very clearly: when, after many years of working with Afisha Serif, we were suddenly given Display, it was like “aahh! From now on I’m gonna use it everywhere — and it’s gonna be that big!”
MS: Oh, so great that you’ve brought it up. Because we really started to apply Afisha Serif to anything — magazine’s cover and everything else around it, too. It was Maxim Balabin, I think_ (art director at Afisha magazine in 2003–2009 — editor’s note)_, who was first to use it on an industrial scale. So we decided that you needed, let’s just say, something a little bit special for such a big size. And that is exactly what we asked for.
AT: So, it seems that everything, from Caption to Display, was created as far back as in the times of Afisha…
DY: Nope, we had no Headline back then. It’s a new face.
AT: After that only the symbol set extended. Guys from Afisha told me what languages they were probably going to use for the magazine, and we discussed the set of symbols that they would probably be needing.
MS: Weird thing, but I remember asking “Do you have a euro sign there?” And I believe that euro had just been introduced at that time.
AT: We had even a special sign for shekel.
MS: How cool is that.
AT: And it was new, no less.
MS: That is amazing.
AT: Though no bitcoin. That’s for sure. By now we have all European languages covered, I hope. And even a number of the African languages that I don’t know much about. As for Сyrillic, it now has not only Belarus, Ukrainian and Bulgarian letters, but also the characters that support typing in Tatar, Bashkir, and a bunch of other languages used in the former Soviet Union. Just visit uniсode.org — and there you go, problem solved.
IR: And the Gauge family, why do you call this typeface Gauge?
AT: It is not gauche, which is French for left, but an English word for caliber. At the time I was reading Counterpunch by Fred Smeijers. This book had a picture of some typeface design tool, which I wasn’t aware of at that time, called “gauge” — the caliber. When it was time to name the font, I came up with Gauge – meaning a good instrument.
IR: What a great story. I never heard it before.
Counterpunch: making type in the sixteenth century, designing typefaces now — Fred Smeijers
MS: Look, there’s one more thing I just remembered — the unbelievable flexibility and plasticity of this font. At some point, we decided to stop using Afisha Grotesk (since we had enough of it), and asked Radim Peško to cyrillize F-Grotesk — so that we could use it as a sans serif. And the two worked perfectly together. Afisha Serif was also used in Afisha–Eda (Afisha Food) — together with Eda font that you created especially for this magazine. It has a great level of compatibility.
Left: Afisha Serif (Alexander Tarbeev), F-Grotesk (Radim Peško), Afisha Sans (Tagir Safayev) in Afisha magazine
Right: Afisha Serif, Eda (both Alexander Tarbeev) in Afisha–Eda magazine
IR: So, at a certain point Afisha went digital…
MS: It didn’t look well on the screen. I have no idea why. I guess it had something to do with its angularity — and with then screen quality at the time. I mean, when we were developing magazine pages, the picture we saw on the screen was somehow different from what we saw on paper. The paper version was much better. Later, when we adapted the thing to digital, something was wrong anyway. Now I understand that it was the font’s sharpness that looked differently, since the displays of the time were not Retina. Not yet. I think there’s no such problem now.
YO: And what if it just never occurred to you ordering manual hinting for it?
MS: Look, if it did occurred to us, who would have give money to pay for it? Turbulent times. It’s got to be mad interesting, to try it all on digital now. Well, what else could it be tried on, actually.
Afisha covers, 2006–2010
IR: Now I am asking you the question that I normally ask right at the start of the interview. I am addressing it to both Misha and Alexander Vladimirovich: what is actually is the font for you today? What does it mean for you?
AT: What a weird question, man.
MS: It is weird.
IR: It’s a great question.
MS: It is for me what it always was.
IR: And it is a good answer.
AT: I second that.
MS: The most important, expressive and style-determinating, tool of designers.
IR: Alexander Vladimirovich is applauding your definition.
AT: I wish I was the one who found these words to describe it.
MS: Tsentsiper _(Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper, founder of Afisha, currently heading Tsentsiper bureau where Mikhail Smetana works — editor’s note) _always hammers me because I tend to express myself like I am a bad textbook.
AT: Oh really!
IR: All right, dear textbook, please tell me. You have a great deal of experience with periodical publications and books. Although, in the last few years, you have started working more on visual communications and branding.
MS: Mostly Keynote.
IR: Presentations, right. Have your expectations with regard to font undergone any changes? What do you notice in a font, in the first place? What is important for you?
MS: Nothing has changed, I think.
IR: Well, can you list the things that matter to you when you try a font, considering whether it can be applied, or not?
AT: First of all, any given plane has to be handy to work with.
MS: When we use it for branding, we need to know whether the character of a given font contradicts the character of a given brand, or not. Preferably, the font has to support the brand’s character — or probably even reflect it.
IR: It is about the design, the style. What about the tool kit? Say, is the amount of faces important?
MS: If we are talking some fantasy, decorative font, then yes. I believe that it’s really great that Druk has many faces. If we’re talking a text font — then Text, Headline, Display, small caps, several various numerals. That will do.
IR: We have been working with vector for more than 20 years now, but the material remains unchanged. It’s Bézier curves. Still, dealing with a font, very often we can easily tell that it was created on computer in 1990s — or, on computer, but in 2000s. Or recently. Could you perhaps isolate some features that work for you as a marker indicating that this particular font was designed in the last few years, and not before that?
AT: You are right. Though, I’m afraid, I won’t be able to define why I have the feeling exactly. Why I rank the font as a recent one.
MS: Right, you definitely could tell. But it is hard to explain why you do. Well, sure, in some cases you just see the times, judging by certain distinctive decoration details.
АТ: Most likely, it would be the print, since all the new fonts make their print kind of… sterile, as opposed to the letterpress ones. You can only see see it in print, not on the screen.
I mean, everybody knows that there is such a thing as fashion. Art history has a number of great styles that changes everything they could with them, from clothes to type. And yet, I won’t have the courage to describe, define and specify the contemporary typeface, all the more so since I am not really interested in doing it from this particular aesthetic point of view. I am into the technology challenge — and the challenge of different languages. Those things drive me to design fonts. For me, it’s an attempt to enhance the quality of typography.
IR: Could you name two, or three specific projects that you find interesting among the font novelties you’ve run into lately?
MS: Recently Indgila Samad Ali, our colleague at Tsentsiper, made a rebranding for some charity called Vtoroye Dykhanie. She has used Pragmatica for it — without asking, or even telling anyone. And the last time I saw Pragmatica in use was about ten years ago, I guess. I was shocked, really. I said: “Wow, what is this cool font you have here? Is it new?” Her answer was: “Dude, it’s Pragmatica”. Sometimes it just takes time, you know. During this time, the font should not be touched by anyone.
Vtoroe Dykhanie visual identity, Tsentsiper bureau, 2018
AT: I have the same story on Times. Someone brought me a book designed by one of my ex-students: “Look, it’s Maxim Spivakov who did it”. And I had the exactly same feeling: what is that font, man? Wow. So bright. So simple. And so brilliant. Wait, it’s Times! The same Times that everyone is sick of!
Books by Textandpictures Studio
MS: Everybody got so sick of this typeface, everyone got soo over it, that suddenly a product made with the use of this font looks cool — and recent.
AT: Well, those stories, I had it just once. Font is actually just a tool: results of work depend not on the tool, but on the person who uses this tool.
MS: Speaking of new and interesting (and here I don’t mean to flatter anyone!), I really do try everything that appears on your type.today. Because all the stuff is interesting, in one way or another.
IR: Could you maybe name one of our fonts that you liked the most?
MS: Yes, that would be one of the most recent sans serifs of yours, Styrene, — the one that has two A. It was really powerful.
IR: What about Druk? The one that is not Droog, you know.
MS: This one as well, yes. Though I keep calling it Droog, sorry.
IR: Yes, we have been calling it Droog for some time, too, — making the same mistake. But, eventually, it turned out to be Drak.
MS: But it is Druk in fact, isn’t it? German word for print, or press, — and the Ukrainian as well, actually.
IR: Alexander Vladimirovich, may I ask you to tell about something you recently saw? Perhaps brought by students, or you have discovered it yourself.
AT: Graduation projects, yes.
IR: All right, could you tell us which, exactly? Give us two or three examples. The projects that you find the most striking, or unusual.
AT: Unusual? Why do you call them that? All of them are pretty usual. And this is only the beginning of their challenge — which is to stand up against that many languages, and to fight for good typography. Take William: Akira Kobayashi (type designer, type director at Monotype — editor’s note) said: “Do we really need a 25th Caslon?” Masha Doreuli then approached me, disappointed. My answer was: “Relax, we didn’t have a decent Cyrillic Caslon earlier. Now we do”. We have no means for typing long texts — Misha would agree with me. The palette is tiny. Fingers on our two hands are enough to list all the typefaces available for us — and it is if we’re lucky.
MS: I guess you’re right.
William by Maria Doreuli in Prime Russian Magazine
IR: And what is your default for making presentations, Misha?
MS: Default means default: so, the one which was set initially. Later I can switch, and it is really up to the client.
AT: I use the one that I am currently working on.
IR: Do you change it directly in the operating system — making all the buttons you use looking the same way?
AT: Exactly. I even replace the font in all browsers if I can.
MS: Oh, that’s nice, actually. I can’t do that.
IR: Shall we talk variable fonts?
AT: I’m in. I love this thing.
IR: Do you like variable fonts?
AT: Yes. Especially talking about them!
YO: Misha, pardon me for asking. Do you know what it is?
MS: I guess I do! Though I am not sure if my understanding is correct.
IR: Some people says that two years ago, when variable fonts were presented to the public, we actually witnessed the hidden revolution. And that this revolution can be compared, in terms of its scale, with the invention of Johannes Gutenberg, or the first ever phototypesetting, things like that. Would you agree with that, Alexander Vladimirovich?
AT: No, I wouldn’t.
IR: Why not? It was not new?
AT: It was a revolution more like Adobe releasing its Multiple Master fonts — or that of Apple’s True Type GX fonts. In fact, variable fonts are based on the same idea; there was no revolution. It’s just that consumers haven’t realized why they should purchase the same fonts twice. I don’t know what will happen next. Perhaps, implementation of this format will be more successful, since it goes from the web and is carried out through browsers. And actually, now we see the arrival of new fonts. In exactly this format. So, perhaps this time the thing will have more success.
MS: I am giving up. I don’t know what variable fonts means. Now tell me.
AT: Look, do you know what Multiple Master is?
MS: I do.
AT: That’s the same thing.
MS (laughs): OK then.
AT: What is different is that it finally occurred to those who could make use of it. You can write everything to one file — from the narrow to the wide, from the light to the bold. And not only that. With a certain ability, you can squeeze in there literally any whim of type designer. The technology allows for that. Multiple Master had four axes at most, while Font Variation provides 64.000 of them. No man can keep in his head a space of shapes that big. But the consumer, the person using that, has bought the font, and now is going to spend all his life figuring out how to use this, and what it is fitted with. So, one the one hand, I am a little sceptic, but on the other hand, I am finally having the opportunity to finish Den Haag family, which I’d been working on for 20 years now, and somehow release it. — After all, it has 95 faces, plus a hell of hard work, and God knows that. I really can’t stand any more of it. I tried a few times, and each time I failed. And now I can simply upload all this into one file — and forget about it.
IR: The best thing here is really the opportunity to place a whole family in one font file. All while getting an access to all faces and interim versions in desktop applications — with the use of, roughly speaking, sliders. Meaning you will have a special toolbar at InDesign where you can click for setting proportions, density…
MS: Sounds great.
IR: Web version is no different, but with even more interactivity.
AT: For example, if title is meant to cover the whole width of a browser window, it will cover the whole width.
IR: But the trick is not scaling. It is the use of subversions and inner interpolation.
AT: So, if the window gets smaller in width, fonts gets narrower with it.
IR: What is important here is that we do it not by means of scaling, but thanks to font interpolation algorithm.
MS: The way it has to be done.
IR: Exactly, but nothing gets twisted.
AT: There’s this web site,axis-praxis.org. There you can also find engines for selecting fonts, examining some really mad features.
MS: Thank you. And how about I will thank you by teaching you how to change stylistic sets on Keynote?
IR: That would be nice.
MS: You should press cmd+t. You see a toolbar with fonts. The upper set of tools is inactive. You have the icon in the top left corner — Settings, I think. It seems inactive, but don’t mind the looks, click it. You get a drop down menu popping up.
IR: The thing is also inactive, but click on it anyway!
MS The line number five is Typography. Clicking on it will offer you a window where you then can reset numerals, or choose from various stylistics sets. Also combine. In other words, summon anything you want — any genies that normally stay hidden inside the font, unavailable for you.
MS: I had been struggling for a long time, when I accidentally came across this option. Since then I’ve been running around with it, like Peter with the Gospel.
YO: Thank you, Misha. You have just made a true smash out of our conversation.
AT: Summarizing the discussion, modern font is a font where you eventually discover something you were looking for.
IR: Alexander Vladimirovich, do you feel like we are now living in the age of booming typography?
AT: I don’t.
IR: And do you, Misha?
MS: No. It’s just that we didn’t have much earlier.
AT: And now we do have.
MS: Now we have some things. This is not exactly the boom of typography.
AT: It is not yet a palette.
IR: Are we still short on Cyrillic fonts?
MS: They are definitely not as many as Latin fonts. Though not sure we can call it a shortage.
IR: We remember having little new products.
MS: Well, maybe, now is different. Not the way it was before.
AT: I feel like this proportion has in fact become even less fortunate for us. Can you see that? This is not only Cyrillic — but anything non-Latin.
Alexander Tarbeev demonstates the share of non-Latin fonts in FontBook typeface compendium
MS: Jesus Christ.
IR: Type.today publishes the annual review of Cyrillic fonts. Two years back our review listed 99 fonts, if I remember right. Last year we had 250. This year they are more than 1000, and now I don’t even know how to prepare the thing — the amount is becoming truly unmanageable. Though you should know that 99% of those Cyrillics are created by Western designers who are just playing around with foreign, unknown writing. Therefore the majority of them cannot be taken seriously, since their authors don’t really care about the quality of this Cyrillic.
AT: One time, British school of art and design invited František Štorm to visit them_ (type designer, founder of StormType — editor’s note)_. You’ve got to remember that. A brilliant man, designing awful signs that eventually make up wonderful texts. He can’t make it work the same way, when in comes to Cyrillic fonts. As for all the others, they are not even close to Štorm. So, I see no point in reviewing things which are… Well, just imagine that I am heading towards the nearest metro station for preparing a comprehensive overview of all the shoes ruined by Moscow salted sidewalks. What’s the point?
Janon by František Štorm
IR: Alexander Vladimirovich, you have been teaching at the Polygraphic Institute for over 18 years now. Please tell us, do you believe that today’s youth is somehow different? Do you see any changes in terms of intrinsic motivation? In terms of their engagement? Me and Yura, we are now rediscovering for ourselves the young designers. We have been watching them, occasionally being so…
AT: So free.
MS: So brazen.
IR: Exactly, they are bold. They are somehow different from us. Can you define the difference — from your teaching, pedagogic point of view? What is so different about them?
AT: I have no idea how these young designers eventually end up being so free and bright, since the kids of first year, freshmen, are increasingly dull, incompetent, ignorant, uninterested. Only a few people from the year remain to pursue their studies.
IR: So, you seem to see the contrary.
AT: With regard to students, yes. But I am more often around students rather than about young professionals. I see some bright people, but they are becoming less and less common.
MS: And I have an impression that youth has gotten better now.
IR: Do you mean here the young people starting to practise profession after their studies?
AT: After I ride them hard at the school!
YO: Say, Misha, could you maybe tell us about the projects that you liked? Name some young designers who impressed you.
MS: I don’t know. Whom are we supposed to consider being young designers?
AT: Well, Artists Union considers everyone younger than 35 to be young. After 35, they would consider you as the old one.
MS: Let’s look at those younger than 35, just out of our old-fashioned courtesy. Then it’s Anna Kulachek. Indgila Samad Ali, she works with us. But here we are still not talking about the generation of 20-year-olds, yeah. I don’t know who else. And what if I forget someone? What if they will get upset about it?.. On the other hand, I don’t see any of them, I don’t know them. So, two names are enough.
Anna Kulachek, kulachek.com
Indgila Samad Ali, indgila.name
AT: Do you teach, Misha, by any chance?
MS: I don’t.
AT: That is weird. You don’t teach, but I do — and we both don’t know anybody.
IR: Misha, while working in Moscow, you used to visit Kiev. A while back you came back to this city. How can you describe the state of affairs in Ukraine when it comes to design? As far as I understand, Ukraine is going through rough times. Obviously all this will affect designers. What is happening, anyway?
MS: You know, paradoxical as it may sound, it is not the best times for us — and at the same time, it is our best times. The local graphic design was weaker, so it is different. Even Kharkiv Institute — which was really good, and gave rise to half of the heroes of all Russian documentaries on Russian design, all two of them, — is in a really sad state now.
At the same time, Ukrainian IT industry is on the rise, so there are a lot of digital designers. Mostly working for Western companies, they are still creating a quite proper product. For instance, local book covers are surprisingly more than decent.
IR: They are?
MS: Yes. Well, I mean, it was a surprise for me.
IR: And what about publishing business, is it alive?
MS: Well, for one thing, they translate everything from English pretty fast. I mean, the whole Amazon top selling books is translated in Ukraine just several months later. Both fiction and non-fiction.
IR: What about periodicals?
MS: The periodicals are in the same bad place as they were earlier. I always heard nothing but wonderful things about Ukrainian Vogue while in Moscow. All the girls just loved it. Recently, there was a scandal on its editorial. But it is still a very powerful media — when it comes to pictures. Although, it has nothing to do with graphic design. More about the art direction in general. There are a number of rather small studios, each of them working at a good level. Plus, a few schools — all of them created by people who came from advertising or digital, who combined their efforts. As a result, we have a number of schools that are quite good.
IR: Education schools?
MS: Yeah, education schools — short ones, not academic. Besides, there is this thing I keep hearing about. At first I was really ignorant when they were trying to explain to me what it was. But everyone kept telling the same — just how cool it was. That it was unbelievable, world class stuff,— something about 4D, or something. Plus, guys in Moscow are like: “Do you know those guys?” And I say: “No, I don’t”. “These guys are so cool! Everyone is just dying to learn from them”. (method.education — editor’s note).
DY: Oh, that’s me who wants to learn from them!
MS: Here you go. Even Dasha fantasizes about learning from them.
IR: The last time I visited Kiev was about ten years ago, I believe. Back then I saw a wide gap between, well, Moscow level and Kiev level. Since then, the city saw the arrival of several really powerful design studios. For example, the guys who founded Banda studio — they went to these schools, you see? The ones who keep getting European awards — and are successfully moving ahead, in general.
MS: Yes. They are really successfully moving ahead, indeed. Already accomplished a number of rather visible projects. You could say that average level has gotten much better. Yet you still see a lot of trash.
AT: It is a large country, what can you do.
MS: All right, yes. A big country, no money. So they struggle to save money wherever they can. But thankfully, there is enough money for those who are good with their hands, too.
IR: We’ve got a bit of optimism, in the end.
AT: You won’t be able to make it onto the Russian TV with that, you know?
IR: We are apolitical. And we treat our UkrAinian friends like brothers.
MS: Right, that’s good.
AT: Good it is. Šče ne Vmerla Ukrajina.
IR: Misha, Alexander Vladimirovich, thank you very much for two hours that you’ve spent on our conversation.
MS: Thank you. It was my pleasure.
IR: I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of us on release of Gauge. A very long preparatory stage is over, — and I am incredibly happy that we finally did it.