Ukrainian designer: Creative struggle for the land

WITHUkraine has been in a state of war for more than a year. However, this is actually the ninth anniversary of an unjustified attack on this Eastern European country: in March 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, which belongs to Ukraine. Since then, Vladimir Putin has tried to deny the legitimacy of Europe’s second largest country after Russia. Although Moscow directly recognized the independence of Ukraine on December 2, 1991.

For designer Victoria Yakushi, independence is beyond doubt. Like many creative people in the country, her work has been heavily influenced by the aggression of her much larger neighbor. And not only because she and her twelve employees were initially forced to hide from the attackers after the start of the war. Permanent work in Kyiv was out of the question. However, the collection was created after the invasion in the spring of 2022. Its name: “Walking on the Ukrainian land.” This does not apply to Russian soldiers who have tried in vain to quickly conquer large territories in Ukraine.

Deep connection with nature

Rather, Victoria Yakusha hints at the close connection of her compatriots with the land on which they stand, on which they work and live. She symbolizes Mother Earth in the form of a black round carpet that hangs on the wall but is rooted in the earth, represented by long threads. The design is called Semlia which means earth. In Ukraine, it is often black, which is paraphrased by the word chernozem.

Victoria Yakusha handles the attack on her country with her projects.

The carpet itself was knitted with a very old Carpathian technique called lishnikary, which is now rarely used. It has several layers stacked on top of each other, just like the earth is stacked on top of each other. By doing so, she wants to preserve a piece of Ukrainian tradition, about which no one knows exactly how long it has existed in the mountains in the west of the country.

Yakusha's design hints at the deep connection Ukrainians have with their land.

The collection includes small stools and benches, some of which resemble lambs or ponies, while others remain geometrically abstract. Victoria Yakusha calls the animal element Wolyky, which means something like freedom, rather naive characters are called Duschi, which can be translated as strong or stocky. For them, they are symbols of pure, free nature. That’s what they’re made of, more specifically, a mixture of materials known as stista, which means “dough.”

Previously, the walls of houses were plastered, including with a mixture of clay and hay. She appreciates natural materials, works a lot with wood and wool, fabrics that have their own energy and, as she says, can tell their own story.

Victoria Yakusha, a native of the Dnieper, felt a deep connection with nature since childhood. She spent her summers with her grandparents in a village in the Donbas, a region partially occupied by the Russians since 2014. The year was decisive for her. “We were on the verge of losing our identity,” says Victoria Yakusha. At that time, she founded the FAINA brand, with the help of which she wants to preserve Ukrainian culture and its traditions.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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