“We like to experiment, so many clients may find our work bizarre”: White Russian Studio on its unique practice

The Russian digital design studio is trying to integrate 3D into many aspects of its work.

5 March 2020


Moscow’s White Russian Studio has an interesting approach to work, that surprisingly manages to be both eclectic and logical at the same time.

“We like to experiment, so many clients may find our work bizarre or weird,” says Stas Antipov, founder and director of White Russian Studio along with Roma Lyubimov and Dima Baraulin. “But when we decide to make an interactive 3D human head floating in abstract space, this is always a well-thought out artistic choice.”

The three founders were all doing their own things in branding, web design and animation before starting the studio, which they realised made sense as they would constantly ask each other for assistance and advice anyway. “We work at the intersection of web design, branding and animation, but we are primarily known for our love of 3D,” Roma tells It’s Nice That. “Our goal is to create simple but stylish images.”

The studio’s approach is technologically-led, which explains the modern and almost futuristic look of much of its work. “Because we love 3D, we started to study technologies that can be used to integrate it into the web” says Dima. “Right now, every time we work on a website, we come up with some interactive visuals somewhere in between design and code.”

One of White Russian’s most impressive projects that displays this approach is its recent work for Afisha, which is one of Russia’s most popular entertainment and lifestyle websites. It consists of many short stories based on anthropomorphic urban characters, which may sound simple, but the way that White Russian went about it was not. “We invented physical laws for the world of Afisha to follow,” explains Stas. “These rules aren’t always predictable but they are intuitive and ‘correct’. Characters consist of parts connected by invisible threads. They are always mobile, they can bump into things around them or displace each other.”


Going one step further, the studio decided to utilise AR for this project to adapt it to Instagram: “When you turn on the filter it looks as if you have a big glass ball on your head, and you are surrounded by a crowd of city dwellers,” says Roma. “We used our realistic rendering skills to transfer all the beautiful textures of the original video to AR – and it works, you can use it on any phone!” This is a shining example of one value that underpins all the aesthetics of its work, and that is that things should look familiar and behave in an organic way.

White Russian has also produced more comprehensive rebrand work for a variety of clients, a notable example being Shot TV, a short film channel that it completely overhauled. “It was this very old-school Russian television channel before we started working with them. Think Soviet port wine at meetings, babushkas at the door and a typical ‘Perestroika’ design,” says Dima. “We made the new design from scratch, including the website that combines crazy effects, cinematic content and a great footer menu.”

Rather than just wait for clients to pitch crazy ideas, White Russian is also big on experimentation. “When we have an idea, we don't just sit around waiting for a client to show up with a relevant brief. We just experiment, and if we produce something cool, we post it for ourselves,” says Stas.

It also helps the team to grow and learn more within the studio: “We do everything in-house – design, animation, development – so we can constantly invent new things and discuss with each other. That allows us to look at each project from different perspectives.”

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About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.


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