Remember when imagination was the height of creation?
There was a time before we morphed into adulthood when our minds were stripped of any limits and constructs. As children, we used to imagine far-fetched places and scenarios that rebelled against convention. We dared to dream in shapes, colors, and sounds beyond the status quo.
Whatever we were able to create (read that as: draw, build, pretend, etc.) was dictated by an ethereal sense of consciousness. Even Pablo Picasso knew of the value of child play when he uttered:
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
This quote retains certain truth as we’re faced with the slow-burning realization that, as we grow up, we become more and more scared of the places our imagination is capable of taking us.
Instead, the cubist maestro reminds us that, as we evolve into maturity, we should hold on to a certain amount of that ingenuity—the quality that drives the power of creation.
Very few people are capable of holding on to that duality. It takes nerve and, shall we say, a pretty good sense of humor to inject playful nuances, warmth, and soul into design.
Reminiscent of the boundless wit and wonder of play, is Alexander Cherkasov’s work.
From branding to packaging design, his work embodies the future of design: a fun, disenfranchised expression of individuality and craft. We included two of his projects in the second edition of Style Cards. We just couldn’t get enough!
Cherkasov’s creative process fascinated us from the very beginning. What motivates him is the interplay between trial and error:
My work is always an experiment where each new project helps me to better understand and express myself. Sometimes I manage to [create] cool projects that [eventually] become popular and many people [end up liking] them, [which] is the best reward for me.
His practice draws heavily on the environment he’s in, from travel and architecture to literature and contemporary design. It’s Cherkasov’s individualistic nature that keeps him grounded and true to himself:
I admire what inspires me. No need to be like anyone, even if you really want to — then there is a risk of copying, and psychologically, the comparison is not beneficial.
Cherkasov first worked on Love&wash and Mamoloko back when he was a college student at the British Higher School of Art & Design in Moscow, revisiting both after his studies now in collaboration with fellow 3D modeling and animation designers.
In Love&wash, featured in the Bold Play style of Style Cards, Vol. 2, he highlights the affective and lively components of color. Its branding centers around a fictive laundry detergent aimed at young families and individuals who love their clothes. Simple as its name implies, with Love&wash “washing can bring joy.”
The line includes both powder and liquid detergents, capsules, and a stain remover. Reflected on the juxtaposition of the typography and the “hugging” shirts, is the expression of love and care. Each presentation features a set of clothes embracing one another corresponding to a variety of the brand: white (two white shirts), color (orange t-shirt and denim shirt), delicates (black silk shirt and a pink satin robe), and baby-safe (pink shirt and a teddy bear). The bright, contrasting background is exclusive to each presentation to highlight differentiation among all products.
Mirroring the dynamic use of shapes and color is Cherkasov’s Mamoloko—which is featured in the Future Is Now style—another fictional brand, this time of milk formula for children. Moved by the lack of places dedicated to breastfeeding mothers, Mamoloko offers an alternative, stylish solution for 0, 6, and 12-month-old hungry babies of the future.
The milk formula comes packaged in an eco-friendly, reusable bottle, reminiscent of the shape of a female breast, and covered in a black and white paper wrapper, a charismatic reference to cows. Each variety is distinguished by the size of the pattern, from small polka dots for 0-month-old babies, a medium-sized round pattern for 6-month-olds, and finally, large, pea-size dots designed for 12-month infants.
Cherkasov’s self-directed projects are mere representations of a mind in constant observation. Perhaps, this is what keeps the Russian designer fighting against a state of comfort and assuming a state of creativity instead:
Circumstances are the way out of the comfort zone in design. I try to create comfortable working conditions for myself [and] in every new job I challenge myself [and] strive to [deliver a product that feels] as cool as possible.
Initiative and craft are the building blocks of Cherkasov’s creative MO who prefers independent play above all:
In my practice, the client does not participate in brainstorming sessions. Often there are two scenarios: either the client already has his own vision, then I try to suggest a concept based on this, or the client trusts me completely [in the process]. In any case, I propose two or three options from which we choose one and work together to improve it. This practice is widespread, including in the studios where I worked. If you have an amazing idea, it must be presented correctly to the client, then he will definitely agree with everything.
If Cherkasov relies exclusively on original authorship, does he ever stumble upon creative blocks without an extra pair of eyes nearby? According to the Russian designer, hard work and a little help from friends is the only way to overcome a dry spell:
It may be necessary to redo and make adjustments many times until the work begins to be liked. Only an internal censor can give an honest assessment. It’s great if there is a colleague nearby who can give advice in a friendly way.
So, as they say, work hard, play hard?
To become in demand, you need to work hard. For me, it’s a good sign when you constantly think about the project, even while sleeping. If the work does not imply creativity, then you need to try to make it that way. You need to develop [a] recognizable style in order to be unique. It is also important not to remain in the shadows yourself: to be a bright, active person and talk about your creative victories.
Exactly. In other words, you have to be brave and play it boldly.
To all this, you can add a drop of luck—this is my recipe for success.
Discover Love&wash, Mamoloko, and more of Alexander Cherkasov’s work on Behance and Instagram.
Find out how you can add more play to your work! Get inspired by this and more projects by renowned designers featured in Style Cards Vol. 2
PRINT & DIGITAL
Style Cards Vol. 2
Use this set of 135 design cards to explore visual trends, define a brand’s look and feel, gamify design workshops, and enhance moodboards. These cards contain works of modern designers and are curated into 10 themes that reflect the world’s visual trends.