My Russian friends, perhaps the AK-47 does shoot better than the M-16.

This point has not affected the past 19 years that I have spent in Russia in any way.  But in any case, Russia is more than capable of producing not just great weapons or handcrafted wooden souvenirs, but also educational systems , technology and much more.

With so many great ideas and technology, I sometimes wonder why Russia talks so much about bringing things to “a European standard”.

I am referring, of course, to remodeling and renovation in Russia.  It seems that “European-style”, which is referred to locally as “Evroremont” is still a selling point in Russia.  It is also more than awkward that when I mention  this term to my real estate clients from Europe, they have no idea what on earth I am talking about.

Russia has its own path.  And to go on its own path, it must stop comparing itself to others.  This path includes its own architectural history.  I found it fascinating, earlier this year, to meet a European in Moscow who was heavily investing in renovating apartments back into a Russian style, together with a local architect and designer who valued Russia’s history.  Where are the Russian investors in Russian design? – Learn Russian with Free Podcasts

Certainly the Soviet Union went overboard with its cookie-cutter 5-story apartment buildings, but there is also something charming in the Soviet interior design that we are now losing under so many layers of drywall.

five story

Yes, I agree that there can be too much of a good thing.

I would love to see a modern twist on Soviet interiors.  And with that, we must not forget the history.  Many of these same real-estate clients specifically ask for apartments in “pre-revolutionary” buildings.  And it is too bad that many, if not most, of these apartments have not kept the interior true to the history… to put it lightly.

Because here’s the thing with “evroremont”:

  • By trying to hold to some “European standard” you are walking away from any responsibility to be creative.
  • This “standard” is making the interior of every building and apartment once again look exactly the same (!)
  • When it comes to foreigners who come to Russia, they want to see Russian-standard.  No one wants to come from Europe to see a replica of what they just left.

When visiting the city of Kostroma earlier this year, I saw the incredible potential for tourism in the city and region, but when I saw the renovations in my hotel, I had what the local newspaper later referred to as a “fit of irony”.

Perhaps I need to just relax and let Russia coat itself in drywall . Or maybe I don’t.  Judge for yourself.

To watch with English subtitles, hit the “CC” button on the bottom right hand of the screen.  My evroremont tirade begins at 2:30.

My Russian friends, I have written in length, even in Russian, about what you have to offer the world.  But for many of you, finding your own path begins with putting an end to comparison.

Ok, I feel better now.  What Russian architecture inspires you the most?  What needs to be bulldozed?  Do we have any defenders of evroremont out there?  Comment below.


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