From graphics to interiors, Facultative Works believes in designing with freedom and responsibility
Founded by Lesha Galkin and Olia Marchenko, the two-person studio works across 3D, graphics, illustration, furniture and music.
- Ayla Angelos
- 14 February 2022
“I think if we lived in a country with a good climate, we would be much less productive,” says Lesha Galkin, one half of Facultative Works, a studio based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The two-person-strong studio works across all aspects of a project from interior and furniture design to illustration, logos and websites. Olia Marchenko is the other half and, between them, they find the location perfect for sitting at the computer “all day long” honing in on their skills.
Thriving in the warm indoors, the duo have mastered techniques in 3D, graphics, illustration, furniture and music. Their multi-faceted and multi-talented output can therefore be seen making waves across a plethora of projects, from wobbly type to 3D objects, posters and interiors. Oftentimes, they tend to opt for briefs that are less commercial and those that align with their ethos as designers. “Design is a fairly reliable tool for selling something, and we bear a lot of responsibility while designing,” adds Lesha. “Therefore, we only take on projects that we believe in.” Anything musical, cultural and scientific will tickle their fancy, with their latest couple of releases only highlighting this fact.
For the last three years, the pair have been inspired by biology – looking at topics such as DNA and RNA function, whether or not plants exchange signals, and what receptors and neurotransmitters look like. “The shapes of the natural world are something I could look at for hours,” says Olia. “The pollen, seeds and bacteria under the microscope are so strange and alien. To be honest, I ‘bite’ a lot from there.”
When approaching a project like this, the workload is split equally. Lesha does all the architecture and product design, while Olia works on the lettering, illustration, branding and book covers. It’s a communicative process that allows them both to excel at any given task. One example is a ten-year collaboration with opticians P.Y.E Optics, during which the studio created the interiors, furniture, identity and “countless other things”. Proving that opticians don’t necessarily have to be boring, the identity sees an impeccably structural interior brought to life with vibrant, flashes of colour dotted in the furnishings. Another client they’re particularly fond of working with is Flowgardenz, a hemp product company that’s “as interested in nature and art as we are”, says Lesha. Not only did the duo craft the identity for its latest project, they also designed decorations and the graphic design for an upcoming eight-episode documentary about plants. The result is a textural and slimy-looking lettering that looks similar to a sea creature living in a coral reef.
Working as a team is of high importance to the team at Facultative Works. They find the process of collaborating with clients to be a refreshing and imperative part of the method; it allows them to experiment and innovate. Therefore, choosing the right project to embark on is mandatory to the studio’s founders. “We want to broadcast a sense of freedom, that you can basically do anything you want,” explains Olia. “That’s why choosing the right client is crucial. Sometimes we’re asked, ‘How did the client even allow you to do this?’ Our clients didn’t allow it, they ordered it! Many of them want to translate the same feeling of limitlessness, novelty and freedom. ‘I'm cringe but I'm free’, you know."
Facultative Works: Identity for Still Life performance by Flowgardenz (Copyright © Facultative Works, 2022)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.