“A Day in the Life” with Toronto artist Natalia Bakaeva

Born and raised in the Far East of Russia, Natalia has been making giant leaps across the globe – from Japan, through Moscow, from Spain to London, until finally landing here in midtown Toronto. Bringing a wealth of experiences with her, she now spends her days and nights translating all of her soaked-up culture into physical forms. Her openness and enthusiasm know no bounds when it comes to creation. In the past five years Natalia has earned many notable awards, including the Holcim Award in 2014 (Switzerland) and the 2nd Award of the Green Project in 2012 in the Student Category (Russia). Natalia also actively contributes to publications, conferences and sessions about the use of energy-efficient resources.

Having studied both architecture and construction management, Natalia has become an expert in designing and building her art, working full-time at an architectural firm and at her own design firm, Interspatial. Meeting new people is a huge part of her life as well. She finds new connections and ways to learn from everyone around her, from colleagues at industry events to friends at a boxing match. Multiplying her knowledge and manifesting it physically is a non-stop process, where one project starts before the other one ends.

In 2015 Natalia partnered up with another Toronto-based intern architect, Mark Francis, and founded Interspatial. Their art and design are focused on animating interstitial urban environments into personal and public spaces. Their work together included “City Blocks” at BIG on Bloor Festival (2017), “Worm Hole” at Place & Placement Exhibition (2017), “Volume & Void” at PULP Reclaimed Materials Art Party (2017) and “Inverted Valleys” at Evergreen Brick Works (2016).

During the beginning of 2018, Natalia began collaborating with fellow architect Natalia Tcherniak, starting the year off with another PULP Reclaimed Materials Art Party installation, called “The Weave”. The success of that project led the Natalias to team up again for “Equilibrium” – an Earth Month installation at Yonge and St. Clair that serves as a commentary on the Earth’s intricate networks. Their design was selected for Slate Asset Management’s call for artists because of the its elegance and creative use of recycled materials.

Natalia Bakaeva
Natalia Baklava and Natalia Tcherniak with their installation “Equilibrium”. The creative process for me starts with a great partnership because you need to confident that your partner has your back no matter what.
Natalia Bakaeva
Natalia Bakaeva and Natalia Tcherniak during a brainstorming session at a local coffee shop I truly believe that living in a megapolis, like Toronto, gives me a unique way of approaching the creative process. The entire city, and more specifically my Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood, has become the extension of my home and working studio. There are plenty of amazing spaces for young artists to collaborate and create.
Natalia Bakaeva
It is not only about the talking…Once the design is done, it is time to start the dirty work. Safety always comes first!
Natalia Bakaeva
Opening day of the “Equilibrium” installation at 2 St. Clair W. When construction is complete, the process is not over. Now that the installation is a part of a public space, it needs to turn into a point of interest and a landmark. I like to be able to present my work, communicate ideas and pass the vision along in-person.
Natalia Bakaeva
“Equilibrium” installation at 2 St. Clair W., on display from April 2018 to the end of May 2018 Finally it’s time to kick back and enjoy the view, feeling pride in creating something beautiful. Time to contemplate and reflect, to be inspired for the next project at hand.
Natalia Bakaeva
Boxing as a break and switch Being at the office all day and working on my other side projects can be exhausting. Training helps me to recover and refuel my day.
Natalia Bakaeva
Opening day of the “Inverted Valleys” installation at Evergreen Brick Works. I believe that all my previous experiences create layers of my personality and gives me an extra push and confidence in every new beginning. It also helps me to be retrospective about myself and my work. That is why I always look for the answers both in the past and present projects
Natalia Bakaeva
Rooftops of Buenos Aires Travelling and exploring new places plays a special role in my system of values. Being in unfamiliar environments gives you an opportunity to open new horizons – it is one of my greatest sources of inspiration for helping me generate ideas.

What ‘hood are you in?

Yonge + St. Clair in midtown. I love living in this booming neighbourhood while having a spacious apartment close to the subway. There is a lot happening in this part of the city, and Yonge + St. Clair has a great future with all the changes that are underway.

What do you do?

I work full-time at an architecture office, and the rest of my time is spent on art installation projects at Interspatial!

What are you currently working on?

Several projects – real and hypothetical concepts for alternative living, utilizing laneways and shipping containers for urban habitats on West Coast Japan and different parts of Canada.

Where can we find your work?

Currently “Equilibrium” is in the office building lobby at 2 St. Clair W. until the end of May. Another installation “Inverted Valleys” is at DCP Studios, a co-working space for artists, near Dupont and Lansdowne.

My portfolio can be found at nataliabakaeva.com and @interspatial on Instagram.



About Joel Levy 2575 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography