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Marina Gisich

Marina Gisich kickstarted her professional life in sports, being part of the USSR’s Olympic Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team. Now, she uses her creativity to run her succesful contemporary art gallery in St Petersburg, a job she playfully combines with her work as interior designer.

You started your namesake concept-driven art gallery in the year 2000. What was the art scene in Sint Petersburg like?

Funnily enough, we enjoyed a rich artistic climate but no one dealing properly with the business side of things like management and marketing activities. There were hardly any collectors. Art wasn’t looked upon as an integral part of modern culture.

What was your personal motivation for starting the gallery?

Having been involved in professional sports for quite some years, I longed for the adventure that comes with starting a new business. I grabbed the opportunity to prove to myself and my family that, when I have a passion for it, I can be succesfull in any new profession. In the beginning, I worked several jobs to allow the business to develop and gain some first income.

Is the desire to change the way people think about art still the driving force?

Yes, it is. Not so much changing someone’s attitude towards art though; we try to focus on creating relationships between people and art. We encourage people to not walk away when their brain freaks out, or their mind just ‘blocks’ out of conceptual confusion. Just stay in there, be and breath. Allow for the work to affect your mind and soul. When someone engages with an art work eventhough he or she “doesn’t get it” — that’s the biggest reward.

Tell us something about the building.

It’s built by architect Vasily Shaub, who designed private houses in the typical Art Deco and Neoclassicism style in Sint Petersburg just before the Revolution. Nearby Sennaya square and Fontanka river add historic atmosphere, oozing the spirit of the novels by the likes of Dostoyevsky and Krestovsky.

You live in the same building, right?

Yes. It’s a great way of showing potential collectors how art and the interior of somebody’s home seamlessly work together if you create the right balance between design and private items.

Would you say art has transformed your life?

Yes, it completely changed our family lifestyle. Up to the point art now is the core principle that rules anything from our everyday calendar to our holiday plans, the parties we throw, and the friends we host.

How does art relate to the interior?

It's impossible to imagine an interior space without art. In fact, art often is the starting point of any contemporary design project — whether it’s a private home or a public space. Collaboration is key.. As interior designer I place art central in the living space and aim to find the balance between proportions and the contents of a space. I prefer to steer clear of any specific style or image, and allow for new aesthetics to grow from unusual or unexpected combinations.

What qualities art has that design lacks?

It’s a blurred line. Designart shows that once more. I guess what differentiates the two is the attitude towards the spectator. Art never plays with the audience, it actually doesn't care of us so to speak. Design, even in its most radical form, has a certain utilitarian function. If design is made for mankind, one may say that art is made for the universe.