Faina is a design brand established in 2014 by Ukrainian architect Victoria Yakusha. Inspired by her cultural roots and her country’s ancient traditions, the collection create a link between a sustainable approach to contemporary living and the relations of the ancestors with nature.
Faina’s “naïve” design is characterized by ancestral shapes and organic materials such as clay, wool, linen and wood. The success of Faina has turned the brand into an “ambassador” of Ukrainian contemporary design in the world.
You launched the Faina design brand in 2014. Why did you decide to establish the brand and what is the concept behind it?
I’ve been practicing architecture and interior design at my own studio Yakusha Design since 2006, but it happened that the product collection FAINA became my biggest manifest in design.
I have got a serious impulse on creating FAINA collection in winter 2013/2014, when Ukraine had the most dramatic moment in our modern history. We were literally in a few steps from losing our land, language, traditions, the most important things which could identify us as a nation. That turning point, the concentration of a great tension in our society, pushed me to create a design collection that would celebrate Ukrainian traditions, our roots.
I decided to give a voice to Ukrainian culture/traditions in my design objects, to finally release the untold stories of our past. My personal manifest – to find our own identity in design and put Ukraine on a global design map.
Why did you choose to name the brand Faina? What does the name Faina means?
The most interesting thing about FAINA collection is that it seems that it was not me to choose her, but she/FAINA chose me to be her creator. From a very beginning of the idea for this collection, I was driven by a huge force/inspiration, collecting information, stories and ideas that were born on my land hundreds years ago.
FAINA in Ukrainian means good, kind, nice, beautiful, we say “faina” or “faino” when we want to express our admiration to someone/ something.
Where do you find the inspirations for your design?
Ukrainian culture, crafts and household traditions would always be my source of inspiration. All the knowledge about the world, how does it works and what is the role of humans in this complicated system, which have been encapsulated in so many generations, provides me not just with the ideas for design, but gives me a great power to create.
For example, we use a lot of clay in our collection – not just for décor and vases, but also in furniture, facades, sideboards, dining table’s leg and as base of a table lamp. I learned that our ancestors used clay at home with an important healing purpose (clay can cure many diseases; it has an antibacterial effect and absorbs negative energy). Our vase MOTANKA repeats the shape of a linen doll that served as a sacred talisman for the family in Ukraine. In my tapestry collection I use old Slavic symbols, such as “tree of life”, “the centre of Universe”, “the goddess”, “symbol of order” – they help me to create a strong statement in the contemporary design.
Do you spend a lot of time making research about Ukrainian traditions and working side by side with local artisans?
I always respected handmade products and crafts all over the world, things that have been made by masters using non- mechanized tools which respect nature. 5 years ago I started to deeply discover some traditional Ukrainian crafts, many of which are endangered because of lack of interest and very low profitability.
So I asked myself, what we, as contemporary designers and architects, can do to preserve local craftsmen, help them to adapt to a new reality. Our solution was a design-expedition, involving famous foreign artists and press, which helped us to rise this issue to a national and global level.
On our first trip in 2018 we hosted Roberto Bachiocchi, architect of Prada, La Perla and Miu Miu boutiques, Annaleena Leno, talented interior designer and stylist from Sweden, the editor of ICON magazine and Vogue Ukraine. Last year we create a national project with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and received the visit of over 14 international design experts from all over the world – USA, UK, Germany, Belgium, Finland etc. As a result, we had over 30 publications with stories about unique Ukrainian crafts, several collaborations between craft masters and modern designers and even an exhibition of some co-made pieces during the biggest design shows in Europe.
I believe that by using local craft techniques for a contemporary sustainable design approach we can emphasize the importance of connection to our cultural roots. It`s true that Ukraine has century-old craft traditions that only few people in the world know.
Ukrainian culture, crafts and household traditions would always be my source of inspiration
How would you describe your style and what are the main characteristics of your design?
I define my style as “Live Minimalism”. It is a combination of two of my biggest passions – nature and a minimalistic approach. I always loved simple laconic forms, honest design that cuts off all unnecessary things, creating an “emotionally clean” interior. When you combine that way of thinking with natural materials, endless power, beauty of diversity and imperfection that nature teaches us, you have an original live minimalist style – no space for fakes or copies.
Which characteristics define a good design for you?
Two things – laconic forms and philosophy/values behind it.
How do you feel about being considered the most renowned ambassador of contemporary Ukrainian design in the world?
It is a part of my mission, which I`m following in every project. I feel honored and inspired to do even more in the future in order that the world can celebrate Ukrainian identity in design.
I define my style as “Live Minimalism”. It is a combination of two of my biggest passions – nature and a minimalistic approach
Any new projects for the future?
Our quite recent project, opened just 2 months ago and still very new and important is a residential gallery in Brussels, the FAINA House. It is a 2-floor wood-frame family house which we turned into a cosy contemporary design gallery with a wide range of furniture and décor by FAINA.
The idea came to me long time ago, as I wanted to open our own showroom in central Europe in order to be close to our clients outside Ukraine. But we wanted to make it home-style and welcoming, as if you were visiting an old friend and, if necessary, could always stay over.
Today in the FAINA House we showcase over 25 design objects: starting from our ZTISTA big dining table and to the floor decor TREMBITA. If you are planning to travel to Brussels, I invite you to visit our residence and see all with your own eyes.
Our next project is the “Ethno-village” in Europe, a complex of 22 eco-friendly houses with a carefully thought-out system of thermal protection, economical lighting, straw panels and roofs from natural reeds.