Iliana Sergeev: Power Through Partnership
Head of IS Design Labs
by Elizabeth Lavis|
21 Dec 2021
For Iliana Sergeev, head of IS Design Labs, partnerships and creative teamwork are the keys to design success.
“Over the years, we have learned that partnerships and collaborations elevate us, energize us, and present a challenge to create award-winning work,” she says. Sergeev’s business philosophy hinges on a quote by Ryunosuke Satoro; “individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
This ethos and emphasis on client buy-in lets Sergeev and her team create comprehensive branding packages for all different kinds of companies. She helps them develop a strategy from the bottom up, forging a robust visual identity, custom colors, vivid iconography, and appropriate graphics to convey a clear and powerful message.
“We look to create the ecosystem of a brand,” Sergeev says. “We root our work in solid brand positioning and strategy.” This strategy requires thorough research, competitor analysis, and a deep understanding of the industry landscape. From that point, Sergeev builds her customer persona, driven by brand values and a solid message.
Creating fresh brand identities is just one piece of the puzzle. IS Design Labs teams up with Black Bloom Studio to develop innovative interior spaces that accurately reflect the company’s mission and vision and art, signage, installations, and murals. The idea is to reflect the company’s brand in their space, subtly reinforcing it for both staff and customers alike.
“I am very passionate about inclusive, imaginative, inviting public spaces,” Sergeev says. “I even gave a speech at the World Design Summit in 2017 about my findings called The Next Generation Holistic Urban Spaces.”
This unique, immersive approach to design is echoed in Sergeev’s influences, which are varied and multidisciplinary. “I draw a lot of inspiration from other design disciplines,” she says. “Different art forms inspire design.” Sergeev’s endless curiosity fuels her work, taking notes from typography, architecture, and even biomimicry.
“Many non-designers influence my approach,” Sergeev says. “I draw different parallels to design from the work of Malcolm Gladwell, Anthony Bourdain, numerous stand-up comedians, and even Motown classics.”
Sergeev’s fresh and unconventional approach is also backed up by more than a decade of success in the industry. “We’ve been in the business of branding and design for over ten years with close to 100 branding projects,” she said. “We have had time to iron out our process and methodology.”
When working with clients, Sergeev allows some leeway for differences of opinion and constructive criticism. “There is always space for creative differences, and some projects may take longer than initially planned for, but we don’t have unsatisfied customers,” she says. “We always act in the best interest of the client’s brand.”
This stellar track record might be due to the meticulous nature of her research and the physical designs themselves. “As business owners see the visual aspect of their company grow and develop, the sense of excitement and eagerness to launch is so very fulfilling,” Sergeev says.
Despite her impressive portfolio and reputation, Sergeev does sometimes struggle with designer’s block. “I have had to battle my own blank canvas fear many times,” Sergeev says. “I have learned to start projects as early as possible and keep them on my back burner. This way, the pressure to deliver quality projects is never too much, as ideas can come as I am having lunch or running errands.”
Fortunately, she has found a way to find inspiration all around how. “We are city-inspired designers,” Sergeev says. “We stay informed by submerging ourselves in the culture and bustling life all around, by embracing the vibe and all the new and innovative experiences.”
Sergeev finds innovative ways to let off steam and open her mind for new inspiration. “To stay creative, one needs to find creative ways to unwind,” Sergeev says. “Go explore an imaginative playground, go tree trekking, try a new restaurant, or do something as simple as building a railroad with your kids.” By continuously keeping her creative channels open, Sergeev is able to accomplish extraordinary things.
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