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Life, Art and Architecture with Arseny Leonovich

The Ivan Kuzmich Steamship
The Ivan Kuzmich Steamship

A few weeks ago our story about the “Tree of Life/Hyperion” project revealed the stunning architectural imagination of the Hyperion, by an architectural firm known as Panacom. The story of "Avatar-like" genius opened up a fantastic window into not just cutting edge design and architecture, but it introduced us to some one of the world's most fascinating architects, Panacom Founder Arseny Leonovich. 

By was of a brief introduction, Lenovich is an architect and industrial designer, as well as a modern artist. After graduating from MARKHI (Moscow Institute of Architecture (State Academy)), he was further trained at the TU DELFT (Rotterdam). Then in 2001 he and Nikita Tokarev founded the bureau «PANACOM», which early on attended projects in Moscow, the Moscow region, Sochi, London, Munich and elsewhere. Author of myriad projects now, and winner of countless architectural competitions, he works in product design with companies like VALLI&VALLI (Italy), PIIROINEN (Finland), LIGHTING TECHNOLOGIES (Russia), VIABIZZUNO (Italy), ATELIER SEDAP (France), SMART&BRIGHT (Russia), and many, many more. Our Russia is honored to be among dozens of magazines and periodicals he's taken the time and effort to communicate his vision of art and architecture with. Here's the Q & A with this extraordinary talent.  

Our Russia - ​What was your vision for creating stunning architecture and design when you founded Panacom? Has this changed?

Arseny Leonovich - Probably we just wanted to change the world in which we lived, and grew, which we loved. So, we saw and knew of how much imperfection it had. “There was a lot of work to be done” - we thought, so we greedily grasped the opportunity and the task. It has been almost 20 years since then, and a lot has changed. Things are not quite as we envisioned them.

School Pavilion
School Pavilion - A competitive project 2012 by Arseny Leonovic and associates

Our Russia - Was there a designer or a period of architecture that inspired you early on?

Arseny Leonovich - On the threshold of a new time – the 2000s – there was a feeling of an urgent need onto which to base our project principles. Our vision was to establish these upon the most powerful and tenacious aesthetically and ethically artistic manifestos of the last part of the 20th century. We are now so close to all the way of the reincarnating modernism - from the early ideas of the 19th century (arts’n crafts), through the roaring twenties and thirties, through the geometric wealth of forties, post-war modernism, offers with its bright, simple and overwhelming joy of convenience and functionality. And this is infused with the minimalism of the late eighties-nineties, impregnated with brilliance and conceptions of dozens of artists. We embarked onto the architectural scene with the weighty heritage and brilliance of predecessors, hoping we might speak the same language, but in a different time.

Arseny Leonovich
Arseny getting down to the nitty-gritty of creation (From his Facebook)

Our Russia - Is there a core or key idea your company begins projects with? What makes your basic business principles exclusive and differentiated? 

Arseny Leonovich - The desire to be different is the most common emblem of the modern world. If you follow it as the main thema, then the most bizarre, surprising, shocking images should be the base of artistic design of any creator. This is the reason for an environment where the main idea is not an adjusted one, but one of undercut proportions, incongruous colors and and mutant forms. A "Wow" effect is the only goal - someone surely sees. So, it is a much more complex and demanding task - to differ in the tumult of manifold and cacophony by faithful adherence to the themes and spirit of the very lifestyle - environment and mood, which are comfortable and mystical at the same time, always striving for the ideal, created by design and architecture. As for us, our basic principles always remain sharp – to hear the secret desires of the “Place”, what it waits for, to understand the essence of the artistic, functional, economic tasks and using the meaningful feeling method offer options, different scenarios for the development of the project.

Nikolskaya Sloboda
Complex of individual residential houses, project 2006, Moscow region, Nikolskaya Sloboda - Arseny Leonovich and associates

Our Russia - Do you have a target niche of clients? Are your services only for clients with lots of resources, or are your services also for those looking for affordability? 

Arseny Leonovich - Certainly, those few listening and attentive customers, who saw the potential of the creative abilities of our team, made bets and received a special, unique architectural experience, along with the rewards of our joint work – they are still our clients. On the other hand, methods and approaches to the forms and creating process, which were formed thanks to the first projects, today successfully work in projects of every size - in social housing, urban and landscape improvement, art - initiatives - and so on...

Arseny Leonovich
Arseny Leonovich receives one of many awards for excellence (from his Facebook)

Our Russia - Given your massive attention to sustainability, how big a role do innovative materials play in your projects? 

Arseny Leonovich - We observe with particular predilection and try to use the gifts of time - innovations in the technological processes and in materials. Another thing that is fundamental, is the readiness of the city, developer, customer and social environment to discuss and accept the novelty. This is a field of the innovations questions. We try to be at the forefront of technological progress ...

Interior project 2014 -
Interior project 2014 - Cinema in the shopping centre - A.Leonovich; 3D: A.Ovchinnikov

Our Russia - What about intelligent homes projects? How do intelligence systems comply with your ideas?

Arseny Leonovich - The idea of endless simplification and automation of the life of a man has existed for a very long time, and will continue to push us into new horizons. It’s is as in sport - there is no limit to the desire of setting a new record ... But the question arises – has the line been crossed, when a lot seems to be alien and too much to the consumer of the benefits of civilization? But we are often afraid to admit ... and this process can not be stopped? The longer you live in a profession, communicate and work for and with people, the more clearly visible the real and most basic features of those spaces and volumes become. What we create as architects and designers should not be only about a fanatical worship of technology, but about practicality and designs that will stand the test of time.

The coffee bar
The coffee bar rethought - A.Leonovich, E.Chernyshova

Our Russia - What is the key to the success of your company so far? 

Arseny Leonovich  - I guess it's natural for the majority of relationships  - the willingness and ability to listen to the client, the customer, the opponent, as well as the house, street, city, park, river, or field ... An understanding of the system of relationships make clear the system of measures, and of what and how things should be designed. It was evident from the beginning, when we started work with our partners, and I guess it will remain the same always.

Guesthouse in the mountains Achishkho
Guesthouse in the mountains Achishkho

Our Russia - What does 21st century design and architecture look like in your mind's eye? 

Arseny Leonovich - The 21st century is the era of healthy and comfortable architecture and the social environment. The issue is so broad - in the aspects of realization of new forms - megalomania and consistency, buildings - cities – organisms. There is a focus on the re-circulation of resources and replenishment, and the further creation of a cult of comfort and relaxation, while the work should be passed onto the machines. In fact , the main task is a formation of basic urban systems for billions of people out of the slums and chaos, and prevention of social and geo-political upheavals. All this and more go hand in hand with our vision of the now, and of the future. 

Parabola house
Parabola house

Our Russia - With a focus on the massive potential for an expanding Russia, how can Panacom contribute to the country leading in sustainability?

Arseny Leonovich  - Our project team is super-charged with aspirations, skills and creative spirit, and able to solve the problems of the renewing of the world. We earnestly try to make people's lives better methodically and systematically -  from small design objects to projects of cities, streets and buildings. We have not move mountains with our modest efforts, but we conceptualize and order the space and landscape of the room and of the country.

OBUSHKOVO Urban planning project 2014
OBUSHKOVO Urban planning project 2014

Our Russia - We ask everyone we interview one question Mr. Leonovich. Can you tell our readers what the idea Your Will (or Your Will) means for you?

Arseny Leonovich - Responsibility. Cooperation. A will of a one man multiplied by the general idea of a cohesive team is a very big and significant force for the world. It is necessary to weigh 10 times the consequences of the Will to Act, before this force will be used. And this active energy is required to be constructive and creative. This is the concept for me, for my team. 

Installation for Silver Rain Radio at Retro Auto Museum
Installation for Silver Rain Radio at Retro Auto Museum

More about Arseny Leonovich and Panacom: Famous for the scope of design and art in architecture from the grand to the intricate singular beauty of a light fixuture, Arseny Leonovich's company is one of the most prestigious in the world.