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18 Jul, 2007 09:01

Russian products to get world-class looks

A new Russian company, Astra-Rossa, is aiming to help address a shortage of industrial design professionals. Established in a special economic zone near Moscow, it currently consists of just six people. But it plans to expand to several hundred.

For Mr Pirozhkov design is his life, and that life took him to Zurich where he took up an internship under the world famous designer Luigi Collani.

“We went finally to Switzerland, after six months of preparation with five dollars in the pocket and we said – this is our start capital,” Vladimir recalls.

As a graduate of the famous Art Centre College of Design, he found doors that were previously shut tight swinging wide open. Of all the offers that came flooding in, it was a Parisian life that took his fancy and his first job at Citroen. There he stayed six years working on a number of cars from the inside to the out.

“I'm spending 90% of my time inside the car. So this is my area where I'm working normally and this is the design which I have to build for you and all the customers of any kind of vehicle,” Mr Pirozhkov says.

Climbing the next wrung of the career ladder, Vladimir found himself at the desk of Toyata, where he worked in the advance design department.

But home will always be home and a few months ago Mr Pirozhkov was lured back to Moscow to start his own business. A bar in the centre of the capital is currently the workplace for Vladimir and his partner Sergey Khaprov. Sergey has taken on the management side, leaving the designer to be as creative as he can.

“What we're talking about is talent management. My job is to make it most effective in the not so easy-to-work-with Russian economy. There are four of us but in three months we've got at least five top Russian major corporations to work with us,” claims Mr Khaprov.

Vladimir may be back in Russia, but he's got his sites set firmly on a global arena. From trains to planes, from cars to space, Mr Pirozhkov has got his finger in many developing pies. He's the man behind a concept car of a firm Russian favourite, the Lada Kalina. Avtovaz, Kamaz, Gaz, and Severstal Auto are just some of the companies who could soon have a bit of his magic in their products. The first order comes from the plane maker Sukhoi to design a colour scheme for the exterior of the Superjet-100. It's set to be unveiled in September.

“The experience of working on the face of the product, on the brand identity of big corporations gives us possibilities now to start this activity in Russia. Big corporations in Russia are getting stronger now at the moment and I would like to participate in the programmes of creating face of Russian product,” Vladimir says.