I’ve always been a sucker for artsy spaces. Bookstores, coffee shops, galleries, studios–anywhere that sells crafts, handmade gizmos and gadgets and I’m there. I was, therefore, thrilled to discover that throughout Saint Petersburg are several spaces that are solely dedicated to small businesses in the fields of art, design, and any sort of craft food/product. These spaces, called “Creative Clusters,” or “Творческие кластеры” in Russian, usually inhabit an entire courtyard and the surrounding buildings, and within each cluster is any number of creative businesses, depending on the size of the space itself. The clusters are generally located in the center and are largely funded by a real estate company called BS Art Development Group, whose goal is to help develop small artsy businesses throughout the city. I practically had a heart attack the first time I saw a cluster, and ran around like a crazy person checking out all the cafes, clothing stores, bookstores, design studios, etc. At night, many of the clusters turn into hot spots for bar hopping, and by morning are once again transformed into day-time businesses. In the following article I’ll spotlight three of my favorite creative clusters throughout the city. Check them out when you have the time!
1. Taiga (Таига)
Address: Palace Embankment, 20, Sankt-Peterburg, 191186
Located in one of the most scenic spots in Petersburg, Taiga inhabits a large office building and the subsequent courtyard right on the banks of the Neva, only about ten minutes by foot from the Hermitage. Taiga was the first creative cluster I saw in the city, and therefore have quite a soft spot for it. Taiga is on the smaller side as far as the clusters go, and consists of cafe Gronland, a scandinavian style cafe with delicious sandwiches and coffee, a barbershop (only for men, I tried to get them to cut my bangs, they refused) a photography bookstore, a gallery, a clothing and trinket store called 8 Shop, and a store called “Immeno Lavka” that sells various types of ceramic work, jewelry, notebooks, and art by Russian designers, and where I have spent a considerable amount of time/money. For information on all that Taiga has to offer, click here. Be sure to check out the view of the Dvortsovaya embankment from the second floor.
2. Golitsyn Loft (Голицын Лофт)
Address: Embankment of the Fontanka River, 20, St. Petersburg
The biggest of all the creative clusters in the city, Golitsyn Loft is located on the Fontanka Canal, right across from Mikhailovsky Castle. When the weather is nice, the courtyard of Golitsyn is filled with an ice cream stand, a fruit stand, and outdoor seating for the many cafes and bars on the first floor. The courtyard is surrounded by a gigantic complex of six or seven floors and six or seven different entrances. Each entrance is color coded and tells you which shops you can find at each staircase. It’s an overwhelming experience–you can get lost in the building for hours exploring all of the different studios spaces. The first entrance alone houses a candy shop, three to five cafes, including an “anti-cafe” called Tsiferburg where you pay for the time spent there instead of for goods purchased, a nail studio, a shop selling Indian crafts/food, as well as many more. And that’s just the first entrance! Somewhere in that monster of a complex is also a hostel, a yoga studio, and a poetry themed bar. To see what Golitsyn has to offer check out their website here.
View from cafe “Tsiferburg”
3. Fligel (Флигель)
Address: ul. Vosstaniya, 24, Sankt-Peterburg, 191014
The last space I’ll feature here, Fligel, is located not from the metro Chernyshevskaya, and also occupies a beautiful courtyard and the surrounding building. I set off to do some research with Liden & Denz intern Lauriane, and before a classic Petersburg thunderstorm interrupted our adventure, we managed to explore a clothing store, a design shop, and even attempted to take pictures in a (as it turned out) broken photo booth. Fligel also hosts a very popular and hip bar called Do Immigration, which Lauriane, having been there the weekend before, confirmed is very hip and popular. The most intriguing business in Fligel is a chess club called The Black Knight (Черный Конь), where you can learn how to play chess, attend chess masterclasses, or simply play chess with friends. For more information on Fligel, click here.
That’s all for now, get out there and do some exploring! These are only three of the clusters around town–if you’re looking for more, check out the website of the main organization that sponsors many of the creative clusters here.
Emily, studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg