Russian Patterns in YAGA

Patterns and ornaments used correctly, are one of the most powerful environmental storytelling devices. Coupled with the wealth of traditional Russian pattern culture, it presented a smorgasbord of inspiration, and meaning.

Mezen, Gorodets and North-Dvina are the three main pattern styles used for our purposes.

Traditional Pattern Types


Traditional items are mainly embellished in the Mezen style, kept in more rigid, geometric shapes and only uses a limited color palette of white, red and black.

Gorodets is much lighter, detailed and more colorful, than it’s more conservative counterparts. It still features many floral motifs, and a lot of reds, which helps to tie it in with the other styles. This was usually used for furniture in our case, giving a larger range of color and detail that could be easily adapted to fit any mood or color palette. The prominent use of birds and chickens as a central motif in this style, was an added bonus, providing a large selection of chicken designs to choose from and adapt to our cause.

Modern Pattern Types

For Yaga and her room we used a combination of traditional Russian patterns (floral and zoomorphic alike), motifs from the fairy tales and also imagery of her alchemical endeavors. This juxtaposition of new and old world is seen most clearly on Yaga’s skirt, where beakers and test tubes are incorporated into the traditional embroidery design. In this way it was easy to show where Yaga came from (Baba Yaga’s fairy tales), where she is at the moment (chicken farm, traditional styles), and what she is aspiring to (scientific and alchemical endeavors). This contrast is brought forward even more, not only by the pattern types used, but also the different styles.

Ancient & Modern

The Alchemy Fair is kept in an even simpler pattern language, using mainly very simple geometric forms, basic triangles and circles. These were chosen for the very clear simple message they transport about the clear scientific methods, in combination with the almost neolithic simpler meanings which are also found in alchemical symbols.