Concept of a paper town upon the Ladoga lake
Syasstroy is the typical monotown with the major city forming industry, which is the paper mill that stands on the shores of the Ladoga lake to the east from Saint Petersburg. The town is settled across picturesque water reservoirs of Leningrad Oblast. Surprisingly good as it sounds, the initiatives of tourist development began to appear by 2015s. We had been asked to make the research and create a concept with a perspective. The head of the town administration and his team had been personally interested in the results.

Client: Syasstroy administration

Work: research, concept, design, illustrations

2015 … 2017
This story is the typical example of an industrial monotown that hesitates about thinking diversificating its straightforward economy into the tourist stream. Residents get attached to the town they've been working whole life and don't agree to leave to the gluttonious big city and start inevitably how to improve the life around by all the little possibilities they have.
As always, the outer and the inner perception of a monotown differs significantly. Here is what people think when they hear about Syas Stroy, yet haven't been there.
Versus what it actually is looking like:
The catchy feature of the Syasstroy is the old part that is built up with the old wooden architecture from the 1930s forming up a whole historical block. Residents both not sure if to admire their authentic view and use them for attracting possible tourists or tear them the hell down.
Classical wooden houses have ambiguous attitude towards them. People take them for granted mostly and do not pay attention to their uniqness and suffer from the low comfort they providing.
Natalia Rybalchenko
Predictably, Syasstroy is off the radars for most people away from Saint Petersburg. Those living in Leningrad Oblast heard of it as an industrial one. Little do know that it is famous for fishering industry and set of historical buildings that could be demolited due to the emergency status.
Strategic session with residents
In the beginning of 2015 the strategic session with government and business representatives, local residents took place. Residents had been devided into groups and every of them had worked out an idea of the unifying idea.

  1. Best beach of the north
  2. The town made of paper
  3. Wooden architecture of Derevyankin
  4. Territory of fish
New tourist title?
When it comes up to new tourist products in industrial monotowns, you'd better find a new name, to loosen up existed associations with the industry. Besides that, existed name sounds just funny among Russian audience, who're not familiar with the town title. Residents voted for using euphonious Valgoma name for tourist needs, that comes after another nearby river.

The word "Syas" could be translated as "mosquito" from vepsian language and came from the river with the same name.
Introduction of a new title means working from sketch in media, thus cutting of both positive and negative associations. It happens often when working with monotowns that have negative industrial image.
Natalia Rybalchenko
Conclusions and recommendations
Water accessibility and geographical placement makes it easy to travel from Saint Petersburg. Existing lake trips across Ladoga lake could use another stop at the town. Almost all the residents came to the seemingly apparent conclusion on concentrating upon three things:

  1. Paper stands for the industrial paper mill
  2. Wood is for the ecology and the historical buildings
  3. Water helps determine the successful location by the lake and focuses on the transport accessibility.
Syasstroy — the paper town upon the water
Paper presentation
The most visually pleasant part of the whole story is the hand-crafted design for the presentation that made hundred miles ahead from others. Here are eight most notorious paperwork slides from it:
Illustrations had been folded out of paper for adding a pinch of informal vibe to the overwhelming officiality.
In 2017 I was still highly immersed in making illustrations by myself, at the same time, I already had little time and haven't been a stranger to using readymade images, so I've avoided folding origami and bought all the volumetric origami from stocks.
Igor Makovsky
Concerned parties illustration
Syas maps
Can hardly resist not to highlight the map illustrations we've made to visually demonstrate all the dreams and ideas together.
Syas today
The paper brand remains totally unused as of late 2023. Our team hasn't been contacted for further assistance. We've noticed some wonderful projects being held in Syas like the one with a birdwatching tower by the pinery. It even could be seen from the car, yet there is still few motivations to visit town when driving past it. The most important one, yet difficult to overcome barrier is, ofcourse, the scent that comes from the paper mill.
Syas in social media:
Part of the working team (left-to-right): Tamara Kalyabina, Yulia Stolyarova, Maria (project curator from Ranepa), Aleksander Belitsky, Natalia Rybalchenko, Igor Makovsky
  • Natalia Rybalchenko
    Brand strategist, concept, idea, communication
  • Nastya Obudenkova
    Journalist, analytics, photographer
  • Igor Makovsky
    Art direction, designer
  • Aleksander Belitsky
    Tamara Kalyabina
    Yulia Stolyarova
    Pavel Nemchinov
    Aleksander Sonin
    Syas team
No animals had been papered during the project
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