There used to be few contemporary decorative and aesthetic trends that reached this part of the world from a small number of Eastern European countries (Poland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine), until recent years brought us the starting point of a new cultural identity. It didn’t take long to discover where this creative current was going, especially thanks to the increasing presence of young designers from these countries in the most important fairs around the world.
One of these entrepreneurs and small business owners is the Ukrainian architect and designer Victoria Yakusha, a creator who seeks to experience design in first person and to awaken all the senses with her creations. The ultimate goal is to achieve a balanced and harmonious life. “In my studio we work with a style that I personally call “ethnic minimalism”. We create products for a modern lifestyle with deep roots in cultural heritage, simple design and in the preservation of nature,” she says from her study.
Her first furniture collection, a field in which she has discovered a new creative sense, is called Faina, and came about after several years of research. It was a period of political upheaval in which the vast majority of young Ukrainians with great creative potential did not have a clear identity of their own.
“Our Faina collection was born in 2014 as an artistic reflection on the Revolution of Dignity in Kiev and the search for a new path for an entire nation. It was a moment in which I studied family traditions. It led me to discover, for example, the forms, craft techniques and materials used in the Trypillya civilisation, one of the historical axes present in our historical tradition. That was the point from which I brought back all those traditions and working elements to a modern and current lifestyle,” says the architect.
“With these collections I wanted to return to our roots and create contemporary furniture using the materials and techniques of our ancestors. I collaborated with various artisans to create durable, textured and interesting pieces. I discovered, for example, that the apparently fragile nature of clay proved to be very stable,” she says. In addition to this factor, her studio pursues a very honest concept of design, in which both the materials and the attention to detail are based on an eco-friendly and sustainable mindset.
“The good thing about this rediscovery is that it has enabled me to reuse materials that have coexisted in our culture for many years”.
This new idea of minimalism is not something recent to her way of working. Victoria has spent years applying these same concepts to her architecture and interior design projects; a language that she applied from the very first piece of furniture she devised. “The good thing about this rediscovery of traditions and working methods is that it has enabled me to reuse materials such as wool, wood, clay and metal that have coexisted in our culture for many years, to create pieces that combine as if mixed together in a cocktail. The goal was to create something new and attractive,” she says.
And here everything is important, from the preliminary sketches to the first samples to the historical process, until a clear concept is reached. We can see this reflected perfectly in one of her most recent lines, the Toptun mini-collection of upholstered furniture, inspired by the work of Mary Pryimachenko, a painter of popular art from a village in Ukraine, the best representative of Naif art and well known for the representations of animals in her work. “The Toptun chair is the embodiment of a big, clumsy bear that can still be found today in our forests. And even though it was initially created for offices and work spaces, its popularity in private homes has been very curious,” she says.
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