The practice of creating exhibition spaces in industrial buildings is rather common in many countries. At some point this has also become popular in Russian cities. What distinguishes this country from the rest is the form that this practice took. In Russia this kind of spaces occupy not one building but several of them, sometimes transforming whole districts into large creative clusters. Go big or go home, right?
1. Krasny Oktyabr | Moscow, Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, 16/4
A confectionary manufacturer Krasny Oktyabr is probably the most famous candy brand in Russia. Everyone have their label memorised from the early childhood. Their former factory is located right in the heart of the city, delightfully close to The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Gorky Central Park and even Kremlin. In 2007 the factory moved and left it’s gorgeous brick building with it’s lofts and offices unoccupied. This is when Krasny Oktyabr started it’s vibrant life as one of the most exquisite creative clusters of Russia’s capital. It is popular not only among artistic hipster youth but also among the lovers of luxurious and high fashion. It caters to all tastes with it’s galleries, clubs, and fashion boutiques.
One of the main current residents of KO is Strelka – a non-governmental institute that offers international educational programs in urban development, architecture and design to young professionals. In addition they publish books on various cultural topics and produce their own creative accessories, so definitely check out their shop if that’s what you’re into. Another reason why you should visit Strelka is their bar. This beautiful space, where art deco blends with Italian and Scandinavian vibes, has an impressive cocktail list and a rooftop terrace with the most stunning view. All profit goes to support the Institute, so you can have a great drink and feel good about investing in art at the same time.
2. FLACON | Moscow, Bol’shaya Novodmitrovskaya Ulitsa, 36
It was created in 2009 on the territory of a former glass factory of Joseph Frédéric Dutfoy, that specialised on production of perfume bottles. If you’re observant enough you can even find mosaics with the names of original owners. In the 00’s a new proprietor of the territory have came up with an idea to form a place where artists of all kinds could exist side by side in a welcoming creative atmosphere. The exterior was only rejuvenated to preserve the original historical look but all the new residents had freedom to design their inside space as they would please. Nowadays FLACON is a home for many local and global designer labels, indie tv-channel, architects, educational companies, cafes and co-working spaces. Many festivals are often held on their territory which means almost every weekend you can go and indulge in vintage shopping, admire and obtain unique pieces from local craftsmen or eat delicious foods from all over the world. They also offer you an opportunity to hand in batteries, clothing and other materials for recycling. This is pretty cool considering that recycling is still not a common practice in Russia.
3. Winzavod | Moscow, 4-Y Syromyatnicheskiy Pereulok 1/8 stroenie 6
Winzavod is another pioneer that stood on the frontline of developing creative clusters in Moscow. After being bought from Volkonskij family, Vinzavod, as you can gather from it’s name, used to produce alcohol. Now it is a creative cluster that takes up a big area in Syromyatniki district, right next to another popular cluster ARTPLAY. It’s rooms, alcohol tasting sections and cellars accommodate more than 10 galleries with wide range of modern art. Such an abundance provides great variety. You can come here several times a month and still find a new way to entertain yourself. A definite plus is that many of the events and exhibitions are free.
After a long session of admiring art you can hang out in one of the small cafes on it’s territory. Most of their prices are very affordable which makes this place perfect for students and young artists. By the way, people that usually go there are very welcoming and will gladly explain you all the intricacies of modern art if you struggle to do so yourself. Creative clusters are a great place to spend your whole day at. They present a unique opportunity for you to experience many aspects of art and culture without having to ride through the whole city!