Dear friends, do you know
that May 12, 2012 is the date
of the beginning of the
Mama Ro project?

That day we, three friends, came to Spiridonovka street and started building the very first two studios. We decided to remember how it all happened and, therefore, made a little photo-chronicle of that time.

For our first try at building we got a ramshackle office from the 90’s* (just like the realtor himself). But we already fell in love with this space through the not yet broken walls and we almost considered it as our second home. We only had to find the rental payment and to hew away the rough walls.

* – Difficult social and economic times in Russia

8 cubes or 5 tons of debris: in spite of this, Volodya kept assuring us that he could keep loading all day long and exhausted Tolya exclaimed: “Yeah – and die!”

Unlike Volodya, Anton and Tolya confined themselves to a sweet feeling of ecstasy from the work that had been done and after a couple of hours they fell into a deep sleep.

Volodya is the youngest in the newly born team. However …well, it is “written” all over his face, that all the circles of hell are still ahead.

The anti-glamour procession, this is how Tolya titled these short trips to the garbage container passing by the expensive luxury cars of the Patriarch’s* area.

* – The elite residential area in the center of Moscow

Return from the “anti-glamour procession.” The 10-minute trip back was the short rest we got before starting a new round of loading. The priceless moments: walking light after loading on a warm day in May.

The moment of mastering the science of a palette-knife. With our bare hands we puttied the very first wall but with we did it with such pleasure.

The 15th day of the construction work: we covered the bags with plaster and celebrated Volodya’s birthday. But we forgot to take the plastic dishes, so we used an angle grinder key in order to put some salad on a bread.

The moment of truth: right before the very first purchase of building materials our potential investor changed his mind and withdraws all the money from the account. We are left without a penny in our pocket. There was an estimate of all the purchases on the table as we had planned to go shopping. Ironically enough, the amount we were supposed to have wouldn’t have been enough anyway. So, we are thinking where to borrow the starting capital. All our friends would help us. Many a little makes a mickle.

Gloomy Stalker* lied down in the middle of the construction debris: in this way inspiration makes its way to his mind faster.

* – ”Stalker” is the name of the eponymous character from the famous film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky

With a piece of bread there is a paradise under the spruce*. One of the most delicious dinners in our lives.

* – Russian Proverb

The business presentation that we had studiously prepared for a prospective investor didn’t work out. We had to build everything ourselves by reducing the number of studios down to two. But at least the presentation gathered together our ideas of future projects that had been in heated discussions.

The dry plaster served Volodya as an anti-stress treatment. He says that while walking on it, he imagined himself at the sea.

The money that we borrowed for the construction was dwindling away so rapidly that it was impossible to keep up with it. Needless to say about food. But our friends were there and would rescue us in the hardest moments.

“The palette-knife in the stone”, according to the ancient Celtic legend, a young man who takes out the palette-knife will be able to build Mama Ro studios all day long without being tired. Alas, none of us succeeded.

Tolya got carried away by the process. We are jacking up to level the floors between the rooms that had been united in the studio. We are not there yet.

The front wound.

The front bandaging. We were involuntarily making naive parallels with the stories that we had read about soldiers’ everyday life in the times of the World War II because our work was done with a very rigid timeline: we worked from 11am to 1am without days off, 69 days. In the morning every part of our bodies would be aching. Moreover, by the end of construction, each of us would weigh on average 10 kg less than in the very beginning.

The soldier crowned with the feat of laying the plaster tells his stories from a war to the women encouraged by their company.

Lowered the suspension with the building materials. Anton looks cool like a bad boy with a low riding car but his look is not complete as now they all need to get in the car and drive away like bad boys after a hard day of work.

The genius of the place on the electric forklift. None of the operators of this machine agreed to try to pass a half a ton of the future floor like a thread through the eye of a needle. Until a guy with cerebral palsy took the machine under his control, he gracefully and to the nearest centimetre stacked the load with just one try. Alas, the delight of the moment cannot be seen in the photo, but in the future we realize and are convinced many times over that Mama Ro is built on the talent of such guys.

The Table of the Builder. Pine board, pencil, and daring plans.

A spirit level, an inoffensive yellow stick with two bubbles in the tubes, turned into a real scourge during our construction work. Every time something was “not on the level”, in those moments, the protective reflex of the psyche turned the whole process into a real farce. Even a few months later when we met the neighbours in the building, we listened to their amazed stories about the “inhuman screams” that were heard in the summer from the construction site. It was Volodya’s voice screaming “level.” And we involuntarily echoed him. And so did the three of us, again and again. Thanks God that the neighbours never found out that it was us.

Our trips in the cabin of Peugeot, stuffed to the eyeballs with building materials, was seen as a business class trip for us. Sometimes we had to ride in the car dangling our legs from the trunk and passing, with an astonished look on his face, Yakubovich* who lives somewhere nearby.

* – Popular TV host in Russia

“Душъ” – shower. The prerevolutionary spelling* raised the relationship on the construction site to a new height. Anatoly Nikolaevich passes Vladimir Aleksanrovich a felt-tip pen.

* – The designation on the wall of the place of the future shower with the word “Душъ” (Shower) with the letter “ъ”(a hard sign) at the end is a reference to the pre-revolutionary spelling, which was significantly changed in Soviet Russia after the revolution of 1917. Due to the departure of the old social order in the Soviet era and the mass emigration of the Russian elite (intelligentsia) from the country, there is a slightly idealized opinion in modern Russia that the relationship between people before the revolution was more sublime (intelligent) than today. The unusual, modern Russian way of writing the word “Душъ” (today it is written without a hard sign on the end) hints on this spread out opinion in particular.

Porter truck, Anton and a ray. We are on our way to Mama Ro with a lot of the floor boards. We spent all summer on the construction. But twenty minutes of the sun was inexplicably enough for getting an energy for the rest of the day.

Volodya pretending that he pulled a half-ton of the floor board. He’s proud of himself.

We listened to Vysotsky and Tsoi* throughout the whole process of construction. To maintain a high morale. One day Tsoi, the second – Vysotsky. And then all over again. All 69 days. In fact, the iPad didn’t have enough memory to download something else. And we simply didn’t have time to do it. Since then, Volodya’s ears, according to him, “roll into a tube” with the sound of the painfully familiar tunes. And Anton and Tolya know by heart the complete discography of Vladimir Semenich and the Kino band. From absolutely any verse.

* – Legendary Russian musicians at different times of the Soviet era.

During the construction period, we learned how to ride Leroy Merlin* carts no worse than skateboarders on the boards. The final exam for Anton in the underground parking. The level is “God”.

* – The improvement and gardening retailer

30 meters of metal-plastic is the easiest of all that was transported in Tolya’s Peugeot during the construction.

Necessity is the mother of invention*. The price of the pyramid was too high for us, so we built ourselves a construction for transporting the glass door. And we did it, dammit!

* – Russian Proverb

Anton is tired. The construction was going on without days off – from 11 am until the metro gets closed – because the rental agreement conditions were very strict in terms of the construction deadline (which we postponed twice).

Tolya calls himself a caveman. He says he “needs to have a woman to drag her by her hair into his cave.” Severe times, severe morals. So it was this way twice, until he finished with the installation in the showers of the both studios.

Volodya’s face with a bright thought. Holding a glass of coffee in his hands. Portrait.

Anton, Face with a pair of goggles and a self-made respirator. Cutting and laying of tiles. Self-portrait (Selfie).

Tolya, Face in a sorrowful thought. Portrait.

Tolya, ice-cream and glass blocks from the Czech Republic. The last moment before the beginning of the shower room construction. Tolya has a plan.

Sometimes at night we had time to watch a movie. Thus, a certain wall from the film about Mumbai* gave Anton the idea just before building the shower room in the studio.

* – A screenshot of the “Slumdog Millionaire” movie by Danny Boyle

The idea of making a shower room of the glass blocks inspired by the short frame in the “Slumdog Millionaire” movie is being realized somewhere far away from Mumbai.

Practice makes perfect. Volodya came armed with a level and concluded that the glass blocks went wrong. Tolya in a fit of temper dismantled the almost finished wall to the very foundation. At that time a rhetorical question was asked, “why are you tearing it down to the floor?” The voice of rage in Tolya responded “because everything is crooked to hell, even its foundation.” Anton and Volodya still laugh when they remember this moment. In the photo it is already the second attempt which would be crowned with success.

The field know-how: a carefully verified line of the glass blocks is propped up until the solution definitely fixes it.

Volodya holds the board until it’s definitely fixed. Anton arrived in time with a screwdriver to ease the efforts of his comrade (the suffering is still far away, the installation of a glass door is ahead).

Some of us learned how to use a circular saw here at the construction site. Just like a dozen other tools, though.

The first launch of the projector over the construction chaos was kind of a test: if the space got cozy, we could consider that the studio was a success.

Caveman Anatoly carves the LED light from the transformers.

The most difficult moment of laying the floor was to fix the last board. We managed to do it only all together. The power of a single mind.

Troweling the millimetric joints is a jeweler’s work which at that stage was too hard for they were tired and their skin had coarsened in the course of construction. Roxane is helping out.

The third layer of lacquer. After more layers, the gleam of the Mama Ro floors will have no equal even with the lights of the Madison Square Garden.

“Volodya is not there”, “furniture in the morning” and “opening on Sunday”. The length of the board was chosen with a good margin as if it was on purpose. The plan and the to do list would slowly but inexorably go even lower. It would be extended up to one and a half to two weeks.

The magic of the building materials transportation: somewhere in the streets of Moscow among 4 million of other cars, you are participating in the creation of the new project when riding in two cars.

After exactly 69 days from the construction beginning, on July 19, 2012, the very first two Mama Ro studios were opened at the Patriarch’s Ponds: Studio 1 and Studio 2


Studio 1



Studio 2



Find more information
about this story here, on the
Mama Ro Tree of Legends:

by Fire
Why is the image of children on an oak
branch a metaphor for the first and second
studios, and why it is inspirational when
a startup doesn’t receive financial aid?
Why is the image
of children on an oak
branch a metaphor for the
first and second studios, and
why it is inspirational when
a startup doesn’t receive
financial aid.