The roots of this pipe maker’s story begin about 6 years ago. Back then it became apparent to me that this pipe maker was doing something that I could not ignore. Four Years ago, almost to the day, I decided to write an article about this pipe maker titled: “Michail Revyagin, Changing The Game”.
If you don’t know much about Michail Revyagins (Misha) past, I recommend you read that article first before you continue. The story had two parts. To read them go to Changing the Game One and Changing the Game Two
As for the half decade old title I selected, “Changing The Game”, not bad at all considering it was 1,000% accurate.
There’s a new trend sweeping over our pipe community and it is has several names. Reverse Calabash, Bee & New Design. Michail Revyagin is the cause of these trends and he has changed the Pipe Design World forever and done so in Huge & Dramatic Fashion. Anybody out there who appreciates game changing ideas, well, give this guy a decent round of applause because he deserves it. Revyagin doesn’t get all the credit for these game changers but he does get a pretty large chunk of it.
Let’s look a little deeper into the design revolution Misha started as well as the in-direct relationships that attach themselves to the end result.
The Past 100 Years of Pipe Design Influence
For the past 100 years, the pipe designs on the traditional shape chart have been the leading influencer in the design of smoking pipes. These shapes have and continue to be the greatest overall design influence on more than 75% of the pipes we see today. Absorb the incredible power of that statistic. More than 100 years old and these designs are influencing all of us, collector and pipe-maker alike.
We did experience another major ‘design milestone’ during the 50’s and 60’s. This came from our Swedish and Danish pipe maker friends. Pioneering that pipe design style was the great pipe making figure Sixten Ivarsson. His pipe design ideas, commonly referred to as “Danish”, make up about 25% of all the pipes we see.
We have had these two major design milestones guiding 99.99% of the pipes we see in the present day.
Some of you may ignore this point so let’s dwell on it a bit. Let that idea soak in. Virtually each and every single pipe that you have seen in your entire life has had it’s design roots in one of those two areas. Traditional Shape & Danish/Swedish. This means that each and every single pipe-maker has been using these design ideas to create their work.
These ideas have created a foundation for us to understand the pipes we look at. The visual aesthetic of these design ideas appeal to us on such a high level that our internal evaluation process says: “This is something that works…it looks good…it makes sense…” and so on and so forth with the final result being that these ideas are accepted & they obtain the status of ‘normal’ as the community adopts the shapes.
They are defining everything we see & everything we do inside our hobby. It is what we talk about in all our daily pipe discussions, those ideas are everything of everything that we do here in our pipe world every single day. You dear reader are either infected with the traditional shape chart virus or the Danish virus or maybe even both.
Lucky for our community today, we are currently experiencing another such design milestone. Led by none other than the Game Changer Michail Revyagin.
It began when Revyagin made this bee shape.
It was this concept pipe that gave birth to what all of us now call the “Reverse Calabash”. A pipe that appears to essentially have two bowls sitting side by side.
Does Misha deserve the credit for the Reverse Calabash?
Misha was the only pipe-maker who took the design concept, placed it up on his highest pedestal and put all of his energy into it. For several years Misha did nothing but make this style of pipe. That step takes a lot of guts and a lot of courage. The type of courage that most people unfortunately do not have. Misha was the one who put himself out there with these design ideas & to a very high degree.
Revyagin thumbed his nose at tradition and plowed forward along this road. Misha brought all the ground swell and inertia to this concept & it was he who moved it forward. Nobody will be able to disagree.
He explored multiple variations of the idea, tinkering and toiling away & back then, both Revyagin and the idea itself were limited to the arena of novelty. Novel idea that were not taken seriously, from a design perspective at least. Michail Revyagin was all alone. Nonetheless, Misha kept going and even made versions of the rear chamber with clear plastic.
This was back in 2009/2010. Back then everyone was talking about Misha’s pipes but few other pipe makers were making them. A few years later, pipe makers like Tom Eltang and Rolando Negoita came out with their Tubos & Conducta variations. Add a few years onto that and soon after, the flood began. Fast forward to the present day & we see virtually each and every pipe maker incorporating the idea to one extent or another.
Just as with the other two design milestones, we had a strong design idea that based on it’s visual, aesthetic, proportionate and balanced strength, had the ability to infect a sufficient amount of the community so that now the words ‘Reverse Calabash’ & ‘Bee’ have become a part of the pipe dictionary. Look at how many pipe makers the idea has infected.
The list goes on and on. Misha Revyagin put the word ‘Reverse Calabash’ and ‘Bee’ shapes into our pipe vocabulary and it is now a part of our community. We have added these words to our daily discussion. The praise deserved from this item alone is enormous.
I think it is the dream of every pipe maker to have one of their shapes become so standardized & well accepted that they are included on new versions of the pipe shape chart. Well, Misha contributed to our hobby in a such a great way that both of these now ‘defined shapes’ are seen on the chart below.
Whether you enjoy these shapes or not, you must give credit where credit is due as this achievement is flat out enormous. Even in our small pipe community, something like this does not happen every day. We are in the midst of a rather rare moment and applause to Revyagin is due.
Misha’s story & impact however does not stop here. The Revyagin Effect goes far beyond to many other areas as well.
Here is where it gets interesting to look at how the virus grew and why Misha is the poster-boy for inspirational new pipe design ideas, influencing the vast majority of artists today.
Yes, Misha Revyagin is a big experimenter and completely on his own, left to his own devices & his own mind, he is very open to experimentation.
Like many individual artisan’s, Misha has played with unique ideas like exaggerating the use of the plateau portion of the briar.
Misha also applied radical ideas like completely abstracting the pipe shape & doing his best to make it unrecognizable.
This element of pipe design experimentation in general is not new. Unconventional concepts have always been within our community with a hand full of artisans over the many years. Very intelligently, Misha began to borrow from these artisan’s and their work & he began to apply it to his own.
He borrowed ideas from the likes of Anne Julie with her fun exterior pipe textures, something that she had been doing for several decades.
He also grabbed concepts from artisans like Christian Wolfsteiner (who himself is a highly unconventional thinker) & his very interesting art and on and on he went.
Adding and adding, radical idea after radical idea, Revyagin placed them right on top of the popularity he had achieved through his Reverse Calabash and Bee design concepts.
The important item here to note is that these radical ideas, on their own, did not have a chance to gain wide acceptance. On top of the popularity of the Reverse Calabash and Bee however…well, a much different story. On top of that platform these new, odd, weird and interesting concepts have became much more widely accepted. Today, these “new concept” pipes can easily account for 5% of the pipes we see in the world. Moving forward, that number will only grow & grow.
THIS IS THE BEST PART – FREEDOM!
Look at the general individuality in pipe work from just a short 10 years ago. We only had a hand full of pipe makers expressing themselves outside traditional shapes. Today, we see virtually every pipe maker taking a stab at new ideas in one way or another. Even the highly conservative Danish traditional masters like Former & Tom Eltang are more comfortable experimenting with new shape ideas. All of this started somewhere and that somewhere is mainly with Michail Revyagin. When this type of moment occurs, both the new & older artisan’s in our community become comfortable with the thought of freely expressing themselves. This is what we are seeing today. Our pipe making artisans are comfortable with the idea of letting go of the traditional rules.
We have freed ourselves from the formal elements of traditional shape representation. Led by Misha & several other pioneers, our artisan community can see the departure point from conventional pipe design. Those older ideas are already in the rear view mirror. We have broken through and we have entered a new era in pipe design.
The Air is Different Today
Look back at all the amazing artisans over the years who made pipes that stood out. We’ve had many. These pipe makers made unconventional work and while they received some attention from a small portion of our community, they were never taken seriously. They were not admitted into the club. Today, such artisans with their novel ideas no longer face that stigma, well, not to such a high degree at least.
I myself am firmly rooted in the traditional shapes. English, French, Danish & the Swedish forms of pipe design, that is my personal cup of tea. For myself, many of these abstract looking pipes are more art rather than smoking instruments. Thankfully though, my personal opinion has little bearing on the virus infecting our community.
All of us should appreciate this moment. Appreciate the artisan who brought us here. He opened the door to a different view & we should all forever be grateful. Revyagin gave us the Reverse Calabash, Bee and Abstract design trends & they are now here to stay. Just as we are grateful to the others, like Sixten Ivarsson, who have previously walked this new & different path, so must we also be grateful to Revyagin today.
Pipe makers the world over define Michail Revyagin and his work as the Most Inspirational, Most Influential and Most Amazing out there. All those pipe makers are absolutely correct and now it’s time for the collector community to acknowledge the same.
Michail Revyagin Pipes are sold at these World-Class pipe Retailers:
If you’d like to travel a little deeper into Michail Revyagin’s head, I encourage you to read the article I did on one of his most interesting pipes in particular. I titled that article “A Pipe Maker says that Freehand Is Dead”, you can read it here. It gives great additional insight into how Michail Revyagin thinks.
Sixten Ivarsson images courtesy of Lars Kiel at DanishPipeSmokers.com
Various pictures of pipes from Bisgaard-Pipes.com, DanishPipeShop.com, ScandPipes.com & QualityBriar.com
Shape chart showing Bee and Calabash Concept & Image of Christian Wolfsteiner from FumeursDePipe.Net
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