Yamal: Warmth of the Arctic

Originally conceived to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia’s North, “Yamal: Warmth of the Arctic” was developed around the juxtaposition of Yamal’s location, the Arctic Circle, and the physical and metaphorical warmth the region radiates much beyond its geographic borders.


Practice Area


Department of Culture of YANAO Region


The Challenge

The team needed technological solutions that allowed them to preserve the level of craftsmanship they envisioned when designing the spheres and each of the elements that comprise the small worlds within. The main challenges were to find a narrative and visual approach to tell the story so that it would engage not only visitors but also local population, create a space that in the middle of the Arctic winter would feel inviting and to communicate the main idea of Yamal’s warmth not only as a narrative but as an emotion that visitors experience.

Project Vision

The central element of the exhibit’s design was inspired by the snow globe, a beloved memento that holds a combination of magic, memories and promise. Each of twenty-three stories is presented in a large-scale sphere and, taken together, they form a multifaceted portrait of Yamal over the past 90 years. The spheres are grouped but the last sphere in each grouping touches upon the topic that follows, emphasizing connection between nature, people and industrial developments.

Endangered birds’ nests under railroad bridges are becoming a wide-spread surprising side effect of railroad construction in the region.

Dmitry Chebanenko

A golden cloudberry, a local staple, is a rare beautiful and delicious berry.

Dmitry Chebanenko

The section of the exhibition dedicated to oil and gas industry. The sphere in front illustrates the geological layers in the region.

Dmitry Chebanenko

Design + Execution

Based on the project goals, the team decided to find an overall design approach that would immediately feel different and create an unexpected visual context that would make visitors look at the stories from a fresh angle, even if they were familiar with the factual information. Presenting the narrative in a series of beautifully lit spheres allowed them to turn each story into its own world using the most visually engaging symbols, images, and techniques. The spheres form their own larger world that feels warm and magical rather than dark and cold with the carefully placed lighting and the shimmering starry sky. A black fabric box maximizes the illusion of the spheres floating in the air.

The worlds inside the spheres feel complex due to various formats, materials, lighting, and design decisions, such as showing a detail rather than a full object or coming up with a symbolic rather than literal representation.

Fish is essential to local life. The region is home to a few unique species.

Dmitry Chebanenko

This sphere is dedicated to the culture of the region and is inspired by a beloved poem by an indigenous Nenets poet.

Dmitry Chebanenko

This sphere gives examples of many objects in our everyday lives that exist in large part thanks to natural gas.

Dmitry Chebanenko

Reindeer are essential to the lives and culture of indigenous Nenets people. The antlers, with handpainted traditional patterns symbolize their might and prominence.

Dmitry Chebanenko

Lorem Ipsum Corp.
Project Details
This exhibition is stunning. There is a constant element of wonder here. A series of worlds unfolding before the visitor. The detail, care, and drama of the design is so beautifully conceived and executed. I only wish I could see it in person.
Juror 1
This exhibit is visually stunning and poignant: beautiful specimens of nature preserved like gems in life-size snow globes under a vast night sky full of stars. It reminds us viscerally and mournfully how rare, precious, and endangered our planet is. The thoughtful use of space and structure, the carefully placed back-lit labels, and the sophisticated lighting all enhance this emotional effect.
Juror 2
I think it was a brave choice to use the challenging and unique shapes of snow globes to portray the content. It elevated the diverse topics by turning them into individual miniature installations which showed great attention to detail.
Juror 3
Design Team

Abigail Honor (creative director)
Yan Vizinberg (creative director)
Chris Cooper (head of post-production)
Evgeniy Kazachkov (content director)
Stepan Panov (scriptwriter)
Ivan Korneev (researcher)
Sergei Polovnikov (concept artist)
Dasha Khandzhi (visual designer)
Betta Bereslavskaya (architect)
Pavel Erko (head graphic designer)
Aleksandr Nigmatulin (technical manager)
Elisey Rodionov (technical director)
Evgeny Eliseev (project director)
Ekaterina Shcherbakova (project manager)
Kamila Akbulatova (project manager)
Masha Pyshkina (head producer)
Donsha Jones (post-production producer)
Bruce Chilton (editor)
Maks Zhura (editor)
Anton Urkin (3D animation)
Gevorg Manukyan (software developer)


Arkhitektsiya (fabrication)
Master Sound (installation, integration)
The Shemanovsky Museum Exhibition Complex (exhibition location; curators provided consultation on specific content details)

Photo Credits

Dmitry Chebanenko (photography)
Lorem Ipsum Corp. (videography)

Open Date

December 2020