Berlin-based designer Ira Ivanova finds delight in experimentation. In her practice, coming up with new rules through changing systems and approaches might just change the outcome of your work for the better. “For me, the most exciting part is to experiment and to treat a project as a game where you come up with the rules and you play it. So I’m trying to work as much as possible with clients who have the same interests,” Ira tells It’s Nice That. “In the past few years, I realised that it’s important to work on your personal explorations. This way you’re not dependent on someone else’s opinions and goals. Which gives you total freedom but at the same time can be a challenge.”
Ira grew up in a small town in the middle of Siberia before moving to Moscow to study when she was just 15, a city she ended up living in for the subsequent 12 years. “I got into graphic design quite randomly. I knew that I wanted to study in the art school but the decision to move to Moscow was quite spontaneous. The only place I got in was the College of Applied Arts in the faculty of carpet weaving,” she says. “Oddly enough part of this college was the Higher Academic School of Graphic Design. So since I wasn’t going to do carpet weaving for a living I transferred to the graphic design faculty.”
A part of why she loved design came from seeing how incredibly passionate people were about what they do, which she felt was ultimately contagious. During that time in Moscow, she worked for cultural institutions like the Blueprint, Afisha Picnic and the Future Architect conference at the Strelka Institute. These days, she spends her time working at Studio Yukiko. Speaking on her own interest, she attempts to capture the visual elements of today so they do not disappear: “I would say that my aim is to look at my projects through the lens of our time, to include and rethink the visual indicators of our time. I think that since we live in this specific moment, it’s our job to record it and to study it,” she says.
She talks about an ongoing personal project titled Technical Graphics, investigating what she calls the honesty of accidental graphics and unintentional design. “What interests me the most is that by not having an intention to be liked or sometimes even understood, these graphics can take unexpected forms and compositions that wouldn’t be possible if a designer would be actually designing it,” she says. “Another challenge for me here is to strip these images of all the content so that the form takes all of the spotlight. I bring this series to the physical space from time to time by silkscreen printing them or making clothes with them.”
Another recent project was done for Studio Yukiko. Titled Driving the Human, the project looks at the intersection of art and science, developing seven prototypes designed to answer complex contemporary questions. “The task was to create an identity that would last for three years and still be relevant. To achieve that, we’ve designed a set of logos and a graphic tool kit that reflected on the research basis of the project,” she says. “We took the graphs and schemes used to measure the data and transformed them into our visual elements. This way we can measure and analyse any visual material and make it relevant to the project at the same time.”
It seems like Ira is picking up on this thread of the impact of technology on our lives in the near future. “I think the next thing for me would be to explore AI as a part of our time. Specifically to explore how AI imitates us through imitating the AI,” she says. As the interest in human-computer imitation increases in the design industry, we’re excited to see what shape her technology-focused projects will take in the future.
Ira Ivanova: Technical Graphics (Copyright © Ira Ivanova, 2018)