Interview with Irina: What is the difference between bad design and good design?

There are a lot of things you can speak about with Irina Greciuhina, Chief Architect of Zen Design S.R.L., but we decided to ask her the key question: what is the difference between bad design and good design.

Ira, let’s start from scratch: in your opinion, is it possible today, taking into account a great variety of ideas, formats and opportunities, to differentiate between bad and good design and architecture?
Evolution of any society is associated tightly with a human view of the world around; architecture and design is a way to adjust this world to own ideological and household requirements. The difference between modern architectural and design styles is preconditioned by the difference in basic philosophic theories.
Trends in art, architecture and design are not an abstract formal search for forms but for meaning. Unfortunately, the requirements of our Moldovan society are very inconsistent, non-specific and cloudy and naturally they are reflected in architecture and design in Moldova.
After all, any architecture and design project in Moldova is ordered by a customer according to his/her own vision, perception of the world and level of culture. Let’s give some consideration to terms present in abundance in the vocabulary of our politicians-ideologists and members of the public: “pro-European course” or “European-style repair” that were mocked many times by European policy-makers (for example, Stefan Fule). What namely Europe is it spoken about? Europe is very different! But every resident of Moldova has his/her own understanding of these terms. Mess in minds leads to poor architectural and design solutions.


Philosophy is present in any project to be developed regardless the fact whether the author comprehends it or not. But philosophy is set by the customer also regardless of his/her comprehension of this factor.

Does it mean that customers have responsibility for poor architecture and design solutions in Moldova?

In my opinion, yes, the customer shares responsibility with the architect for poor architecture and design solutions. The customer must place more confidence in the architect or designer. The architect is an artist living with the future in his/her mind, and a real artist does not mean a person who is good at drawing but a person who can think. I am not going to remind you, whom the architect was compared to in the past, but I recall frequently a quotation of Henry Ford “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse”. The architect – designer offers to the customer “a car from the future” but the customer rejects it and asks for “a faster horse”, because in the customer’s mind the car does not exist at all. Figuratively, the designer offers an iphone 7 but the customer refuses it and argues that all his/her friends think that it looks like a soap-box because it has “neither a rotary dialer nor buttons, wires or handset”.

You have developed many interior designs for restaurants throughout the world. What is the difference between restaurant design in Moldova and private interior design?

Interior design has a significant importance in such a risky economy sector as restaurant business. There is a significant difference between private interior designing, where the customer can afford himself to choose and take decisions deliberately, and a business project, where time is money.
Today, restaurant business is one of the most popular but very risky businesses, where 50% of projects fall during the very first year. But at the same time, it is one of the most interesting, freewheeling and creative kinds of business, that interconnects seemingly the most incoherent areas of human life: finances and psychology, esthetics, functionality, ergonomics and beauty, management and human health, architecture and cooking art, precision challenging modern kitchen technology and abstract art, light, music, color perception, sound, acoustics, fresh air, the science of smell, comfort and coziness – all these should be employed to attract visitors, minimize risks and bring profit.

A restaurant designer in Moldova, on the one hand, has to reshape keen European trends into an accessible local product, but on the other hand, to dip into the nearest future and forecast what will be a guest of the restaurant in a year, two or five. Yes, we know how to create in Moldova a restaurant design that will bring luck and money!

How is Zen Design getting on in our difficult crisis time? Do you offer any discounts, do you have any promotions, how are they carried out?

There is a lot of work to do: we have to expand our business, to hire new employees, to buy equipment, software. The project pricing mechanism consists of many factors: time for development, number of personnel to be involved in the project, complexity of the project, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t have any promotions or discount offers; in fact, we have to say no to many people and even part with our old customers. The day consists of a limited number of hours and we don’t have the right to create unequal conditions for our clients. Among the architectural and design companies we are at the top of the rating because we offer a qualitative and stable product. We can’t make significant concessions as we employ highly qualified staff requiring high remuneration. And there is one more reason: it is very difficult to do underpaid work qualitatively; we set a high value on our portfolio.


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