Susan Van Meter
Ukrainian Design Spotlight
A RICH CULTURE
As we witness the ongoing Russian invasion, the Ukrainian people have seen their lives change overnight.
Even though the political situation in Ukraine has been turbulent for the better part of a decade – architecture and design in the country had been flourishing like never before.
Ukraine is a country rich in culture and creativity. Thriving with talented architects and interior designers. Here we will highlight some of those talented designers.
These interiors represent contemporary Ukrainian design, showing a mix of different styles, cultural eras, and much more.
These creatives are leaving their mark on contemporary design, while some are reviving traditional and endangered craft techniques. Each inspires me with their unique styles and poignant design philosophies - I’m sure they will do the same for you.
Yakusha Design is a multidisciplinary design studio founded in 2006 by Victoria Yakusha. They are a one-stop shop for architecture, interiors, creative direction and product design.
'Live design' is the studio’s philosophy and signature approach, and is very in keeping with my design philosophy. It's the idea that design is ever moving and feeling. Through a deep connection to nature, their spaces speak through different senses encouraging their guests to feel, not only to look at. Their minimalist, yet sensual spaces do just that.
Their collection ‘Faina’, launched in 2014, takes its roots in the country’s cultural heritage, is deeply connected to nature, and is representative of a modern Ukraine. Victoria takes traditional Ukrainian design techniques and fuses them into modern interpretations.
“I have got a serious “push” on creating design collection in 2014 when Ukraine had a most dramatic moment in a modern history, we were in a few steps from losing our land, identity, culture, so many things and it pushed me to create a design collection that would celebrate Ukrainian culture, traditions, our roots.”
- Victoria Yakusha on what inspired her to create the ‘Farina’ collection
Their gallery is where Yakusha demonstrates her dedication to nature and history. The gallery spaces, pictured below, are inspired by the earth, with dark tones and use natural, sustainable materials throughout. To “respect the spirit of the space, its history” - they used and highlighted many of the building's original features.
“Traditions would always be my source of inspiration, they give me not just ideas for my design, but the power, encapsulated in so many generations before us, all their knowledge of how this world is functioning and how should we live in harmony and peace. I believe in the value and practical meaning of this knowledge for human’s future.”
- Victoria Yakusha on tradition & her design philosophy
Balbek Bureau is a Kyiv-based architecture and interior design studio founded by Slava Balbek in 2009. They design bespoke commercial, corporate and residential spaces, with an emphasis on building a culture of socially-sustainable spaces within the industry.
The Balbek Bureau’s team value, protect and develop the environment they live in. They are eager to make the Ukrainian cities more comfortable and intriguing for their residents, taking into consideration their historical and cultural heritage.
Balbek analyses existing and neglected buildings, and discovers ways to create adaptive reuse architecture, making their projects socially sustainable. This allows them to create bespoke interiors that reimagine tradition while breeding innovative environments.
“The key message balbek bureau conveys through its projects is that architecture and interior design are a powerful tool for change."
I love it, Balbek's core mission is very in keeping with my design philosophy - Sustainable design that is kind to the planet, a treat for the eyes, and works to benefit the future for all of its inhabitants.
Makhno studio, founded in 2003, creates projects intertwining Ukrainian traditions, world trends and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, the forces of nature, human talent and the architectural mind.
What is wabi-sabi?
“Wabi” is from the root “wa” which refers to harmony, peace, tranquillity, and balance - implying imperfection and simplicity. On the other hand, “Sabi” by itself means “bloom of time”. It is expressed by the effect of time on an object.
Wisdom in natural simplicity - appreciating the beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. Finding beauty in the imperfection of nature and of accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay. Perfectly imperfect, yet another part of my design philosophy.
Their tagline is fitting - "Art to live in". Their projects are a treat for all of the senses. They respect nature and create projects in collaboration with it. They choose natural materials and colours: such as wood, concrete, copper, clay, and flax. Love it!
Another designer cherishes our relationship to nature through their work. Rina Lovko Studio specializes in bespoke residential interior design and is known for incorporating flowing lines and channelling the uniqueness of nature in their projects.
Lovko believes that trees, mountains, music, human beings – everything, has their own sound frequency, energy, and character. Finding harmony between them is kept as the core principle in the studio’s projects.
Following these ideals, she works only with natural and sustainable materials, refusing any kind of imitation. Curved forms, organic shapes, and warm tones define Rina's spaces. Lovko believes that each person and place dictate the conditions, and the architect, as a medium, must be able to read them. Only such an approach will give the desired result.
Olga Fradina is an interior designer, ceramist, and graphic artist. She has been designing interiors for more than twenty years - specializing in private homes and apartments. In her projects, Olga mixes elements from different styles to give the interior a timeless, not momentary, character. Combining details from different eras and cultures. Character and timelessness, are two of my most crucial ingredients to quality design.
She mainly uses living materials and textures, and mostly natural colours. On par with Biophilic Design, channelling organic forms and natural materials - is another pillar of my design ethos.
She believes that the best way to create a truly "living" interior is to create a personality-oriented design. In her projects, she works with technical innovations, advanced engineering, and new materials, and combines all this with elements of traditional crafts, vintage items and modern art.
According to her, the presence of art in any interior can personalize the space, in this regard, she often collaborates with artists, graphic artists and sculptors.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
RAZOM FOR UKRAINE
Razom has set up an emergency response focused on purchasing emergency medical supplies that are delivered straight to warehouses and points of delivery in Poland and Ukraine.
Donations will support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and in surrounding regions where refugees have fled.
UN CRISIS RELIEF
You can set up a one-off, weekly, or monthly donation through the United Nations. Funds will go to helping the UN and their humanitarian partners operating in Ukraine to support immediate relief on the ground.
WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN
Within hours of the invasion, WCK began serving hot meals to Ukrainian families fleeing their homes at several border crossings. As they continue to expand through more crossings across the country, WCK is also supporting local restaurants in eight Ukrainian cities in preparing meals, as well as neighbouring countries.