The portfolio of Russian-born Yale graduate Polina Vasilyeva is an amalgamation of communication design bits and bobs. The mix of styles and applications Polina dips and dives in and out of is easily seen on the designer’s website, which places them all together, on top of one another and side by side. “My website came from the initial desire to see the collection of my work as if it were laid on the table in front of the viewer,” Polina tells us. “A lot of my work as a designer deals with the performance, I believe that graphic design is a form of theatre, in which the designer is a conductor of the content that is being presented to the world.”
In this sense, Polina’s work pulls together a varied combination of typographic choices, illustration and context too, as part of her attempts to “implement a ‘design as a performance’ method in my own client-based practice and specifically in branding.” Having quite a theoretical and artistic approach to more commercial work isn’t common, but one Polina is convinced you can work by explaining that she sees “a branding project as a designer’s task to create scenarios that allow the viewer and client to become an active participator in the creation and formulation of their own point of view.”
It’s an approach that appears to be working. After studying an undergraduate at Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, Polina completed Yale’s MFA Graphic Design program but is now a communications designer, since working at Pratt Institute and teaching at Parsons School of Design. In terms of projects, the work of Polina’s that we favour is when she plays with the format of publications.
For instance, her book Believing in the System and Operating the System is designed from a fictional narrative “on the pre and post-production notes of the projects I’ve worked on for the past two years,” she explains. Sporadically laid out, “the publication takes the form of a scripted scenario which was followed by a methodical development process,” and mirrors the constant questioning of any artist’s process.
Another project, Company N. is a designed play in two acts exploring “alternative branding methodologies,” says Polina. This takes shape by, instead of holding brainstorming sessions or drawing logo sketches, the designer “wrote a script for a play about the redesign of a company logo,” she says.
Polina’s ability to use graphic design as visual communication is further displayed by another project, Post-Internet Drawing Lessons completed with Ekaterina Kholyapina in various secondary schools in Amsterdam. Each lesson “revolved around the critical engagement with the internet,” she tells It’s Nice That. “We developed insight into what it means to be a ‘digital teenager’ by introducing students to the current level of design discourse surrounding the internet and various online interfaces.”
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