His pieces are chosen by young American decorators (such as Anna Karlin) and appreciated by the Financial Times critics. They remind us of the 80s, of postmodernism and, at the same time, of Russian Suprematism. “We are starting to appreciate what we missed decades ago. We missed a lot,” says Maxim Shcherbakov, Supaform studio (founded in 2016). — Nobody liked monumental art, Soviet frescoes and mosaics of the 1990s, or Soviet brutalist architecture. It’s time to realize our identity.”
A St. Petersburg architect and painter with a classical education, he makes Russian design part of modernity. The New Normative collection (2019) combines neoclassicism with practicality, and the items of 2020, continuing the theme of “Soviet utopia”, look like objects of virtual reality.
Among the many designers creating digital visualizations and posting them on Instagram, Maxim Shcherbakov also seems to be passionate about the power of illusory appeal. But his images are real – they take on flesh and blood from chromed metal. Supaform’s 2020 collection of shelving, chair, coffee table, bench and lamp called Fancy-Routine, which debuted at the New York online exhibition Sight Unseen Offsite, has all the same characteristics as those imagined in the renderings: precise, sinuous contours , non-standard forms, expressive geometry and unconditional cinematography.
Like Daniel Arsham’s acclaimed Broken collection (published by Gufram), which imitates concrete and optically demonstrates destruction, the Fancy-Routine objects (created for Sight Unseen Offsite) show the potential of metal and its coatings. Shcherbakov says that the starting point for the collection was the idea of degradation.
“The new collection is my thoughts on temporary things in design. It’s interesting to see how design changes and transforms over time. What happens to a fancy item that’s been coated in gold or fancy chrome if that plating fades over time? What core will we see? In this case, primary attention will likely be given to the essence of the object. This aspect became the main theme of the collection.”
Another bright new product from Supaform is the NYC series. It is distinguished by neon coloring, improvisational graffiti and a clear cool towards the industrial style of subways, bridges and lofts. Brightly colored NYC does not have a precise design, it is deconstructive, it is a puzzle of expressive large fragments, put together like an Insta feed. “I am inspired by Donald Judd, Edward Hopper, Rene Magritte, Nathalie du Pasquier and many others.
I feel the color, I feel how it works. I love experimenting with combinations, using different types of contrasts and textures. This is probably similar to the approach to painting a canvas. I usually start the process with a sketch in a sketchbook. It may be a simple drawing, but it helps me form the basis for my future work. 3D modeling helps me feel the object in space. I use 3D or imaginary scenes as preparatory material… It’s a creative process and I often don’t have a final picture in my head.
It’s cool to blur the boundaries between the digital world and reality. My recent experience with VR games has been amazing. I didn’t understand where reality was and what reality was. I love combining all realities. I love the idea of how a strong line can be combined with straight shapes and how a monomaterial (metal) can be used in different ways. Now is a good time to be creative. I think people need to stop for a while and look back. Right now”.