Since 2006, Yakusha Design Studio has defined Ukraine’s minimalist approach to spatial, furniture and product design. The studio is run by its founder, Victoria Yakusha who leads her team of designer and pushes their limits by developing groundbreaking ideas. L’Insane got a chance to sit down with Viktoria and talk about her design process.

How did you get into design?

– I studied architecture, first – in Prydniprovska State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Dnipro, later – in Institute National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA), France.

How old are you?

– I`m 37

How long have you been designing?

– My first architectural project was accomplished in 2005, while still studying at University, the same year I established my own studio of architecture and design – Yakusha Design and since then we created over 60 residential and industrial projects. I started to design furniture in 2014 with a creation of brand FAINA. Today we have 5 lines and more then 80 design pieces, including organic line Ztista and home scents. All of our design pieces are produced in Ukraine, part of them – in collaboration with local artisans and using traditional craft techniques, like vine weaving, wool weaving, pottery and wood burning.

Faina by Viktoria Yakusha

Can you tell us about Live Minimalism and what means?

– Live design or Live minimalism for me is a combination of 2 important ingredients – first of all, it is interior or design piece, that is filled with the spirit, has a story behind and have an emotional connection to its owner, and secondly – it is clean, minimalistic approach that we use. I always loved simple laconic forms, honest design that mercilessly cuts off all unnecessary things, creating an “emotionally clean” interior or piece of furniture. When you combine that with natural materials, beauty of diversity and imperfection, that nature generously delivers to us, then you have a live minimalist design – where is no space for fakes, arrogance or imitation.

What is the greatest piece of furniture ever created?

– An armchair Donna by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia in 1969.

Donna by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia

What materials are you currently obsessed with?

– Clay, super warm and tactile material, use it a lot for different surfaces.

Favourite building in Kyiv?

– Among contemporary – none, unfortunately. I am very much looking for a day, when Kyiv will receive it`s first modern iconic building. If you look at ancient buildings, we have one of the most complicated and beautiful church complex in the world – Saint Sophia Cathedral, UNESCO World Heritage. I am also a big fan of wooden churches in museum of folk architecture Pirohovo.

Does Ukraine have a specific design identity? If so, what is it?

– We are very emotional, and we all tend to some declaratively, and at the same time – simplicity and laconism. Ukrainians are not so simple and laconic as the Scandinavians and not so emotional as the Italians, for example. I would say, that we are in the middle between these 2 identities, by the way geographically we are also in the middle. But we are very much gravitating towards beauty, our ancestors always painted their homes and all utensils in some incredible folk naïve art. That is why the craving for design – we have it, and as soon as the borders were opened, after the collapse of the USSR – we began to move in this direction. During the existence of the USSR, the theme of design and beauty was exterminated and was not important, lots of memories, traditions and important artefacts were lost. So we had to look for ourselves again after gaining independence, and this process is still only in some initial stages. We are very hardworking and we have a lot of internal competition, so this contributes a lot to the growth and development. Therefore, another feature of Ukrainian design – is saturation.

What are some of the challenges or pros of being a Ukrainian designer in 2020?

– The advantage is that you can create something new, since there are still no expectations from Ukrainian design, there are no stereotypes, you can become a pioneer. A lot of courageous, crazy in a good way and open-minded young creative people contribute to contemporary design in Ukraine. As for challenges, I would say it is insecurity – all our experiments, all initiatives, everything comes at our own costs and it slows the growing process, we almost don’t have support from big investors or government. Also it is an outdated base of specialized universities, both material and teaching staff, lack of institutions in design.

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