Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Artist, architect, and designer.
Hometown: Dnipro, Ukraine.
Studio location: Kyiv and Antwerp.
Describe what you make: I am a multidisciplinary artist, architect, designer, and founder of design brand FAINA. I design buildings, interiors, furniture, and objects imbued with a “live design” philosophy that melds a deep connection to earth and ethnic roots.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: The concept for the redevelopment of Chernihiv, one of Ukraine’s oldest cities with a history dating back more than 1,300 years. Its unique historical heritage includes monuments from the 11th to 13th centuries, buildings from the Cossack period and Ukrainian modernism. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the city has been blockaded for over a month, under constant aerial bombardment. Many objects of heritage have been damaged, as well as residential buildings and infrastructure. We looked at ways to rebuild the city holistically.
Together with volunteers from all over Ukraine, my team has analyzed the city’s destruction, its safety, historical, and cultural heritage. The work centered around the city’s master plan and architectural code including issues of pedestrian and transport infrastructure, landscaping, energy efficiency, and sport, cultural and educational centers. The idea of restoring Chernihiv united dozens of people: experts in architecture and urban planning, representatives of local authorities, and active citizens, who are working together to create a unique concept of the city’s development.
On the design side, “The Land of Light” collection, which I debuted at Design Miami/, is one of my favorite projects at the moment.
Describe the problem your work solves: I design spaces and objects that, aside from being functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing, aim to remind the world about the positive qualities of humanity—such as our courage and our beauty. “The Land of Light” collection is precisely about deep emotions that help navigate through challenging times.
Describe the project you are working on now: I’m working on PRYMACHENKO MUSEUM x VIKTORIIA YAKUSHA, a concept for a cultural complex in the village of Bolotnya, Ukraine. Maria Prymachenko was a self-taught, so-called “primitive” Ukrainian artist. Born to humble means, she was nevertheless an inspiration for such celebrated artists as Picasso and Chagal, earning fame in her lifetime for her dazzlingly colorful and inventive scenes of animals. Last year a Russian attack hit the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, home to more than 20 of Prymachenko’s works. Luckily, the majority of them were saved.
The architectural complex will include a museum, which will house the saved paintings, embroidery works by the artist, as well as photographs and household items from the foundation’s private collection, which have never been exhibited before. Together with the Maria Prymachenko Family Foundation, I’m helping to raise funds with the goal of preserving the artist’s legacy and her contribution to the country’s cultural heritage.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: On the design side, I’m working on The Grun’ collection by FAINA, to be released in April. It’s a collection of furniture inspired by the extraordinary land of Ukrainian Polissia—one of the continent’s largest forest areas. The special geometry of the Grun’ collection arises from its nature. Grounded at the base, it relies on its connection with the earth to grow upwards, elevating itself, striving to overcome its own limits, and peering into the future.
“The Land of Light,” which debuted at Design Miami, is a limited-edition seating collection sculpted from our signature material ZTISTA. It delves into the interplay of four mythical creatures, each representing a facet of our inner light. It’s a response to the war and violence in my native Ukraine and elsewhere. I designed “The Land of Light” to be a sanctuary of hope, spiritual luminance, and core values, striving to instill optimism.
In our complex world, these characters serve as torchbearers of purity and positivity. The four mythical characters each have their own mission: Dovhovukh, “The Long-Eared One,” is a vigilant guide; Sontsehryv, “The Sun-Warming One,” evokes joy and clarity; Shvydkonih, “The Quick-Legged One,” embodies the essence of agility and swift reactions; and Neboshuj, “The Sky-Sewing One,” offers foresight into the future. Intertwining candor with innocence, they may evoke childlike simplicity but are charged with profound, thought-provoking intent. At its core, it’s about animism—the belief that objects, places, and beings possess a unique living essence. “The Land of Light” is the beacon that illuminates your journey.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Good home fragrances and lounge music.
What you do when you’re not working: I’m always working even when I’m not working. I have no free time because my job is also my hobby.
Sources of creative envy: I am very inspired by Maria Prymachenko. She had a difficult life, but her paintings brought joy. She transformed her pain into joy and gave this joy to people. In that regard, she’s a true symbol of Ukraine. Her life and work inspire us to find and nurture our inner light, to endure difficulties with dignity, and strive to bring not aggression, but light.
The distraction you want to eliminate: Operational tasks—they’re very distracting from creating art.
Concrete or marble? Marble.
High-rise or townhouse? High-rise.
Remember or forget? Remember.
Aliens or ghosts? Aliens.
Dark or light? Light, always.