“We value people. So we create websites that help our clients achieve their goals and speak to their audience.”
This is Red Collar, a full-cycle, international digital agency based in Voronezh, Russia. Launched in 2011, they’ve already racked up a stellar reputation with a showcase of Russian and international web design awards, including two CSSDA’s Agency of the Year awards and a Webby. Recently they've expanded to the USA, opening an office in New York.
Red Collar’s approach goes well beyond web design, aiming to create striking brand identities that defy convention. They are creators that believe in the beauty of innovation and harnessing the power of design to connect with the world—both intellectually and emotionally.
We sat down with Denis Lomov, Red Collar CEO and Creative Director, for a discussion on web design inspirations, the dark side of success and future visions for his agency.
Q&A with Denis Lomov, CEO and Creative Director of Red Collar Digital
Q: Who are the people behind Red Collar?
A: Today, we’re a team of more than 30 people. We’re at a unique place where there are enough employees to take on a big complex project, but we’re still able to gather for a creative brainstorm or get away for a barbecue. Because of this intimate atmosphere, we’re able to create some really cool projects.
For us, it’s essential that the projects we take on bring satisfaction. We try and provide each employee with tasks that are most interesting to them. It might be something they can do well, something they like, or something completely wild. We encourage and support self-growth and continual learning. Projects are always a combination of analytics and aesthetics—or data-informed design. We’re keenly aware of how important analytics is for our business, particularly when it comes to building a better UI.
In short, we value people. So we create websites that help our clients achieve their goals and speak to their audience.
The end-user’s emotions are critical to our design process, because it’s the associations people have when interacting with a website that makes them want to come back time and again.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a web developer/designer?
A: I got my first computer late, when I was 14 years old. It sparked a huge interest in me. At first, I read some books on operational systems, like Windows 95 and Windows 2000. I read texts on basic functions and how to create tags. And then I thought, new programs are constantly emerging, which means someone somewhere was creating them. Then and there I decided that I would work with computers, like writing games or programs. On top of that, I was quite good at math in school. By the time I entered college, I chose to study backend development. When I finished backend, I picked up front-end and worked with that as well.
Currently, I have two roles in the agency: one as a director who oversees creative development (from strategy to internal processes), the other as a design lead responsible for the technology we use and where it takes us.
Q: What motivated you to start your own agency?
A: While I was studying, I worked at a place with conditions far from comfortable. Eight hours a day bell-to-bell, strict breaks, monotonous tasks, no growth prospects and a corporate Nokia that rang day and night. Evaluations didn’t depend on project results, but how you sat through work hours—the more the better. If someone came up with an out-of-the-box idea for a task and accomplished it faster than planned, it wasn’t celebrated. In fact quite the opposite, it was criticized. The work wasn’t motivating or enjoyable.
I wanted to create my own comfortable place where people would get a thrill from the work they did.
So considering my educational background and skills, my friend and I created a full-cycle, in-house digital agency.
Q: Share a success story that makes you proud.
A: Save Whales. It was a non-commercial project created by our own team’s initiative. From a random brainstorm session, an idea was born to create a statement website supporting endangered whale species.