December 09, 2019

Piter's People – Kseniya Schastlivtseva


Piter's People – Kseniya Schastlivtseva
Kseniya in front of the model for the Apraksin Dvor. Only time will tell which parts of it will be realized.  Elena Bobrova

Calling herself an "anti-social" person, architect Kseniya designs public buildings during her "day job" and creates silver jewerly as a passion project. After searching fruitlessly for ideal rings and earrings, she decided to making by herself what she was dreaming of. 

Kseniya, tell us your story.

I was born and raised in Pushkin, which is still one of my favorite places in St. Petersburg. My parents still live there and I visit them regularly. About 10 years ago I moved into Moskovsky District.

I’m quite an anti-social person, which is why Pushkin was ideal for me: small scale, low buildings, huge green areas and lots of absolutely different parks. My favorite place there is Fyodorovsky Gorodok [an architectural complex built for the court of the tsar Nicholas II].

Fyodorovsky gorodok in Pushkin
Founded in 1912 but then promptly destroyed by war and soviet neglect Fyodorovsky Cathedral was the personal church of the last Russian tsar and his family. / Wikipedia

My childhood memories are attached to this place, which I always associated with Alexander Pushkin's fairytales. It is built in a pseudo-Russian style and now is partly restored. It includes a recently opened World War I museum, stables, and the complex around Fyodorovsky Cathedral. When I studied at the Russian Academy of Arts, I often practiced by making sketches here. The only tourists there are locals, who come to make shashlyk, to walk around or cycle. 

Feodorovsky gorodok
Architectural element in Feodorovsky Gorodok. / Kseniya Schastlivtseva

I studied as an architect and graduated from the Academy 12 years ago. Straight away I was invited to join the architectural bureau Studio 44, where I still work. I’m involved in designing  public buildings. Recently I worked on the reconstruction of Apraksin Dvor [a huge historic market area in the city center, which has a dodgy reputation at present]. Another important project is a new museum about the Siege of Leningrad [unfortunately, when the new governor was elected in St. Petersburg in September 2019, the project was canceled].

But what about projects that were finished?

I could name Olympic Park railway station in Sochi, but honestly I can’t stand it (laughs). But our office is a truly cool project that I’m really proud of. When I joined the team, it was under construction. And on my third working day, there was a fire on the mansard floor. It took two years to restore the mansard and the rest of the building. But today it’s awesome place, which is often used for filming and for advertising shoots. 

Studio 44 in St. Petersburg
Architectural bureau "Studio 44" is one of the largest private architectural firms in St. Petersburg and in Russia. / Press photo

It is normal for architects to have a  large percentage of non-realized projects. But it is also one of the reasons I started to make jewelry. I wanted to do it for myself, to make what I like and not what the market needs. And the most important thing is, you come up with the idea, and you make the object. You are responsible for all stages of production, and in the end it is completed. 

But initially, this wasn’t my plan. My partner once asked me, why I spend all my time on our vacations searching for the ideal pieces of jewelry. I would walk and stared at display cases, constantly commenting about what I liked and disliked. “Kseniya, why don’t you do it yourself?” he asked. That was 5 years ago, not everyone had an Instagram back then and everything was so different. I felt it was as if someone had asked me: “So why don’t you study to become an ophthalmologist?”

In the beginning, I was very shy and hid my hobby from everyone. Nobody knew except my parents and my partner. Even when I started leaving my job earlier than usual, nobody guessed. But later I had to confess, after I launched my jewelry Instagram account. It’s a whole new system.People started to find me; friends and acquaintances recommended me as well. I work on a made-to-order basis, and until recently I did everything myself. Today I have assistants, but it’s still rather challenging to combine both jobs. 

How did you turn your hobby into a second job?

I was extremely lucky with the people involved. I didn’t make any special effort, and as an anti-social person I often wanted to step back. But I always got support, people put me in touch with the right contacts. And this is how I found a group of jewelry makers based in the Red Triangle Factory [former Russian-American Rubber Manufacture Association factory – a partially abandoned industrial zone]. Actually this is a really cool place in St. Petersburg! It's a city within a city, and its an amazing time machine when you enter very interesting space with this weird mix of things. 

Red Triangle factory in St. Petersburg
The Red Triangle Factory is a perfect example of red brick industrial architecture in decay. / Kseniya Schastlivtseva

There are hyper-modern photo studios next to dogs guarding a cement factory, homeless people next to young roofers. It is like a giant anthill with people who aren’t that visible. I worked there for two years, explored everything, moved my workshop four times, and I’m absolutely happy with this experience.

My grandmother also was glad, because my grandfather worked at this factory during the siege of Leningrad. This is a unique place, and the city needs to do something with it. But we find ourselves having the same problem as at Apraksin Dvor – too many proprietors in one complex [after the fall of the USSR, the former factory was privatized by many different companies, which now rent it out for various purposes]. 

I also recommend visiting Vitebsky Railway Station. In my case, of course, it’s connected with Pushkin. You get on the train in the city center and soon you are in this beautiful town. From an architectural point of view, it's a very modern building, yet it’s over 100 years old. There is plenty of light and space. It was reconstructed recently, so you can explore different areas and waiting halls. 

Addresses:

  • Feodorovsky Gorodok in Pushkin - Akademicheskiy prospect, 34, Pushkin.
  • Red Triangle Factory - Obvodny canal embankment, 138.
  • Vitebsky Railway Station - Zagorodnyy prospect, 52.


 

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955