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Regular version of the site

About the Open House Project

Lecture halls, corridors, the student cafeteria, etc., will all eventually become a ‘home away from home’ for prospective HSE students. We cordially invite you to a virtual tour of HSE. Current HSE students show you around campus through our website.

White walls with stickers and residue from coloured tape, smoothies and vegetarian dishes at the cafeteria, and students whom it’s difficult to send home even at 11:00 p.m. – this is how third-year Fashion student Zhenya Sychev and third-year Communication Design student Inna Zozulya described the HSE School of Design in the latest edition of Open House.

ADDRESS: 12/4 Malaya Pionerskaya Street

HOW TO GET THERE: A short walk from Paveletskaya metro stop

The Building

The building that houses the School of Design has a long and rich history. Located on the corner of Malaya Pionerskaya Street and Stremyanny Pereulok, the structure was the location of a factory controlled by the Olovyanishnikov merchants that produced expensive church vessels in pre-revolutionary Russia. This was the second largest of such enterprises in Moscow, but by 1926 the Geodesy Optical and Mechanical Plant had already found a new home at 12 Malaya Pionerskaya Street. It is here that the first Soviet model camera Leica was manufactured.

To learn more about the HSE School of Design’s building, please visit the HSE.Cornerstone project.

In 1938, construction was completed on the contemporary building, which has already become its own sort of business card for the School of Design. The building’s wing on Malaya Pionerskaya now connects to the former Olovyanishnikov factory. In August 1941, the Geodesy plant was moved to Sverdlovsk, while Factory No. 398, which manufactured ammunition, occupied the space. One might assume that the tower now visible above the right wing of the building came about at this time so that observers could monitor the work of the production facilities. The tower has windows on all four sides, providing a view of the nearby neighbourhoods. After renovations are finished here, the tower might house an auditorium or studio.

Since 1962, the Moscow State Institute of Electronics and Mathematics, which became part of HSE in 2011, has occupied the building. Now that MIEM has completely moved onto its own campus in Strogino, the School of Design is continuing renovations, and floor-by-floor the school is becoming a contemporary art cluster with studios and auditoriums.

The building on Malaya Pionerskaya has changed and been rebuilt over time, which is why the inside now has a lot of confusing corridors, walkways, and stairwells that combine buildings of different construction eras. According to students, it is all rather reminiscent of Hogwarts – not all of the stairwells lead to every floor, which is why one has to be very attentive at first and remember how to get to the right auditorium. ‘For example, one of the staircases will only take you to the fourth floor (there are eight in total), while another takes you to the sixth floor. And there are places all around here that you might not see even once during your four years here,’ Inna Zozulya notes.

The HSE School of Design now has three bachelor’s programmes with 17 different majors, including Communication Design, Environmental Design, Design and Coding, Design and Contemporary Art, Comics, Theatre and Cinema Artist, Fashion Design, Photography in Fashion and Advertising, and Branding in the Fashion Industry. There are also master’s and PhD programmes, as well as various continuing education programmes. Students from all programmes study at the same campus, which may be the most creative of all of HSE’s different campuses. It is also important to note that the first class of students will be admitted for the Communication Design programme at HSE’s St. Petersburg campus for the 2018 academic year.

University/Gallery/Sewing Studio

The first class of designers graduated from HSE in 2017 since the School of Design had been formed four years prior. In this time, the school was able to become one of the region’s best design schools and does not plan to rest on its laurels. Each year the school gets new majors and areas of specialisation, while the inside of the school changes in parallel.

The second floor differs from the rest of the building most of all, as it still has traces of its former ‘resident’ – MIEM. Certain fixtures, signs, and posters have remained. Last year, engineering students reviewed the space, and repairs are planned for the future. There aren’t a lot of people here now and it is quiet; in the art workshops, students focus on their projects almost in a meditative state.

The main flow of students occurs on the third floor, and though the second and fourth floors now have computer labs, the third floor has the most Apple computers. The walls of the auditoriums and corridors are painted white because during exam time, they become an exhibition space, with student works being hung directly on the walls. For that reason, you can see residue from tape and stickers, as well as old markings on the walls. In July, this is where the work is hung of applicants who pass the creative exam.

After exams, some works are kept on display. For example, the wall near the class schedule is covered in drawings done by a student as part of an assignment, and over it there are posters that were thought up by a third-year Communication Design student. The posters contain answers to the main questions HSE freshman typically ask about minors, forms, and other topics. She created them for the academic office, which gets a ton of similar questions each September. When you put in your QR code, a link opens with the appropriate section of the HSE website containing detailed answers to everything. ‘I myself focus on my own styles, logos, and packaging, and I make posters as well,’ comments Inna, also a student in the Communication Design programme. ‘I see that in Russia design now serves a more decorative purpose, but my aim is to show how it can solve problems with communication as well.’

Students also designed the advertisements for the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre that can be sees on the walls of the third floor. Curators in the Theatre and Cinema Artist programme often give students the opportunity to work on real briefs, and a lot of the results of such theatre collaborations go on to become part of existing plays and performances. Additionally, the third floor has a bookcrossing shelf created on the initiative of an instructor.

The school of design does not split up the majors among the floors, so you can find animators, game designers, and advertisers in any of the studios or auditoriums. The prepress prints books, booklets, and large format posters, while the photo studio is where finished works are photographed for students’ portfolio, which each School of Design student subsequently publishes on the website. Additionally, the sound studio can be used to record videos or cartoons.

There is one exception, however – the sixth floor belongs entirely to students from the fashion programme. Here one can hear sewing machines buzzing or music being selected for fashion shows. There are workbenches, mannequins, and other things that might be used to create clothing. Each of the studios on the floor is assigned a curator and group.

‘I came here because I’ve loved fashion my entire life,’ Zhenya Sychev explains. ‘At first I studied in HSE’s Asian and African Studies division, but soon realised this wasn’t for me, and after two years I put together the paperwork and transferred over here. Additionally, I’m an assistant to a Harper’s Bazaar stylist, and I also teach défilé in the modelling school and am a model myself. I love auditorium 603; it’s huge and reminds me of Project Runway with its mannequins and fabrics. Plus, someone is always cutting or sewing here. The sewing machines are always humming, which always fills you with tons of energy. This is why I’m here from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. until the security guards kick me out. The coolest part is that we are always immersed in the industry, not just in schoolwork. For example, each year we prepare a collection for Mercedes–Benz Fashion Week. This is incredibly interesting because you have the opportunity to show off your stuff and meet the right people to find a job in the future. Now, at the end of my third year, I have a general idea of what I’d like to do. Putting together a shoot and finding stylists and makeup artists isn’t a problem now.’

The Cafeteria

One of the main places that School of Design students flock to is the cafeteria. Located near the entrance on the first floor, the cafeteria was renovated just last year. Now students use it as a full-fledged co-working space where they can not only grab a bite to eat, but also get together and discuss future projects or prepare for class. The School of Design kept the windowpanes from MIEM in the cafeteria and between the stairwells. There’s also a piano here, and because a lot of students know how to play, lunch is oftentimes accompanied by live music. Zhenya and Inna say that the idea has even been floated of launching a crowdfunding campaign to hire a piano tuner at the start of the new academic year.

The School of Design’s cafeteria is an example of what student self-governance is capable of doing. The cafeteria has a student administrator who is responsible for working with the food supplier. A Facebook group also exists – Knights of the Round Pot – where the cafeteria’s menu is published, students interact with the supplier, lunch options are debated, complaints are expressed, and requests are made. Thanks to such discussions, the menu now has smoothies and vegetarian lunch options. Additionally, the cafeteria holds international food weeks with Asian, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese dishes, for example.


The studios here are a distinctive aspect of the HSE School of Design. You can get to them only through the internal courtyard, which itself is used as a full-fledged art space for various events. For example, this is where the final exams – that is, fashion shows – take place in the summer for students in the fashion programme.

From this courtyard you can enter the production studios, where classes take place for students taking an elective in jewellery art, silk-screen printing, or porcelain (to learn more about jewellery design students, please visit our website). Additionally, if students from any HSE programme are working on a project and need to print something on a special printer or create something out of porcelain, he or she can do so in one of the school’s studios. Last year, for example, HSE student Anya Kosheleva made a life-size porcelain football last year for her thesis on brovka, a brand of collectable soccer publications and merchandise.

In the studios, students also learn how to make dishware and jewellery out of different metals, and they also master various printing techniques on all possible surfaces, from fabric to metal.

The jewellery studio elective will soon become an actual major in the school’s bachelor’s programme. Environmental Design students have launched 3D projects, so it is already possible to see what the updated studios are going to look like.

The HSE Art Gallery is set to open on the building’s first floor this fall. The gallery will become a space for students to communicate and share their experiences both with one another and with those currently working in modern art fields. Student works will be exhibited here under the leadership of School of Design instructors and invited experts. Additionally leading cultural institutions, as well as independent curators and artists, will be brought in to help organise the exhibitions.