Tag Archives: Russia

House Tour: Soviet chic in a Moscow

7 Nov

I always enjoy featuring international house tours on Decorator’s Notebook, especially those in more unusual locations. Over the years I’ve shared beautiful homes in Croatia, Canada, Switzerland, Finland and Australia to name but a few. I’d never come across anything in Russia though that inspired me… until today that is!

Industrial style kitchen in Russian apartment

reclaimed kitchen sink

Unlike in Europe and Scandinavia where the whole midcentury thing has skyrocketed, Soviet era design reminds many Russians of austerity, poverty and a lack of autonomy and they’d rather forget. It’s pretty uncommon for anyone to decorate their homes with vintage accessories or furniture out of choice rather than necessity.

soviet era furniture reclaimed in apartment

white vintage kitchen with reclaimed cupboards

The owners of this small apartment in Moscow are unusual in their tastes and have gathered a collection of 1950s Danish design and discarded Soviet pieces to create a utilitarian look I absolutely love. They picked up those gorgeous kitchen cabinets and aluminium stools for next to nothing from a Moscow hospital that was throwing them out! The industrial trend clearly hasn’t caught on in Russian either.

Russian apartment with Soviet antiques

bricks as wall art in Moscow home

It’s not just the stuff in this apartment that makes it stylish however – the owners have made some great design decisions too. As a fan of exposed brick walls I love the idea of fixing old reclaimed bricks face-up on the wall to create a similar but less commital effect.

midcentury style workspace in Moscow

Soviet era design in Russian apartment

{via Architectural Digest}

In fact, the vintage wonderment of this apartment almost makes me want to pack my suitcase and head over to Moscow right away. Although on second thoughts, I might just wait until winter’s passed!

For more fascinating international houses and apartments to explore, check out the House Tours archive.

5 ways to make your holiday photos more creative

16 May

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I’ve just got back from a week away in Moscow and Bethan asked if I’d share some tips for getting more out of photographing new places. Next time you’re on holiday, try out these simple tricks to break the habit of seeking out the classic postcard shot and come home with something a little more more exciting on your memory card!

1. THINK OF A THEME

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I’m a big fan of setting myself photo projects as it helps to focus my mind and hone my eyes as I explore unfamiliar places. A theme can be anything from trying to get as many pictures of one thing, like street vendors or transport hubs, or concentrating on the medium of your photography like black and white, tilt-shift ‘miniatures’ or shooting on film. This Photography Monthly article has some great ideas.

For my trip I thought about what Moscow meant to me. Having been previously, I was aware that whilst Russia has become a very different place over the last 30 years, the footprint of the Soviet regime in Moscow remains overwhelmingly apparent. I wanted to try and capture the city with in a way that would reflect photography from that era, so bought myself a plastic Holga lens to fit onto my DSLR for about £15. Effectively a pinhole lens, it’s small and lightweight and great fun to attempt to use.

2. MOVE YOUR FEET!

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The Robert Capa quote: “if your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” has become a bit of a cliché in photography, but it’s something we can all learn from. I prefer the notion of zooming with my feet and only took a lightweight prime lens alongside my plastic Holga. Using your body to move your camera, forces you into new and dynamic positions and gives a fresh new perspective on the well-known sights. Standing in the middle of Red Square I could see hundreds of people with their cameras trained directly at St Basil’s looking for that famous picture above. My view is that if you want a postcard photo, then buy a postcard! Instead I captured something different by getting down on the ground and looking for interesting people or objects in the crowd which other people might discard as in the way.

3. NEVER LET GO OF YOUR CAMERA

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Thinking about photography every minute is hard, especially when you’re on holiday. I find that having my camera in your hand, rather than around my neck can make a big difference. Just loop the neck strap around your wrist and you’ve got your camera at hand for all of those blink-and-you’ll-miss moments. This also has the advantage of making you look less like a tourist, which can be less intimidating for local inhabitants.

4. LOOK BEHIND YOU!

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It’s so easy when walking from one destination to another to stride forward and never look back. In short, you’re missing 50% of everything there is to see!

5. SMILE AND TALK TO PEOPLE

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This is probably the hardest one and can be even harder somewhere like Russia where smiling often rouses suspicion! But I think the best photos you can get when travelling are of people rather than things. Unlike a monument which is photographed hundreds of times a day, photographs of people are both rarer and more interesting.

It’s essential to be culturally aware of local customs and always best to ask permission, but no photograph will capture the feeling of a place quite like one of someone who lives there. A good tactic I picked up in Bali is to speak to people who are selling things, close the deal, then casually ask for a photo before you leave. If you negotiate a price that’s good for them, you might get a priceless smile for your extra pound!

DSCF0247 (738x750){all Decorator’s Notebook}

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