Endangered Techniques: the story of a first design expedition to Ukraine

Endangered Techniques: the story of a first design expedition to Ukraine

When you hear “Ukraine”, you probably never think of it as your next journey destination, right? Well, maybe this story can change your opinion and open some perspectives for young European country with over 900 years history and booming modern design talents.

November 2018 was marked by one of the most significant events for Ukrainian design - the first design expedition in the history of Ukraine to distant centers of handicraft. Unique technologies, under the threat of extinction, were disclosed to European world design experts. The expedition was organized by Victoria Yakusha, founder and chief architect of the Yakusha Design studio, as well as the author of the Ukrainian “live design” brand FAINA Collection.

The group of first design expedition:
Roberto Baciocchi (legendary architect for Prada's stores, interior designer and art curator, Italy)Anna Lina Leno (interior designer, owner at Annaleena Studio, Sweden)Madeleine Asplund (interior stylist and designer at Asplund Klingsted Interior, blogger at Residence magazine, Sweden)Laura Snoad (design expert, editor of ICON magazine, UK

Program of the expedition:
Enchanted culture of Dark steamed ceramics, Gavaretska village. Unique Ukrainian folk fishery born from clay, flame and smoke. This ancient technique, that was popular in the 1930s and even won first prize in Paris art exposition, today is abandoning: the furnaces are crushed, and the masters who own it can be count on fingers.

Unique artisan blankets Lizhnyky, woven woolen products, that has a fluffy pile on one or two sides. They are also called as Hutsul (Carpathian inhabitants) blankets. Lizhnyky are common in everyday life: they are covering beds, sofas, especially in winter.

Ancestors sound in Trembitas, folk musical instrument, so-called Hutsul`s “mobile phone”. The centuries-old tradition has survived to this day. Shepherds, going high into the mountains, take trembita with them. But there left only a few masters who can make musical instruments, producing of which requires special conditions - the tree for especially good trembita has to be struck by lightning.

Throughout the week, the group discovered authentic corners of Ukraine – the unique "smoked ceramics" and its production, Hutsul sheep wool carpets “lizhniky” and the symbolism of its patterns, as well as the longest instrument in the world – trembita. Designers were surprised with the simplicity of some manufactories: "Where are the factories?", - Roberto Baciocchi was amazed. Fueled by the extreme uniqueness of the products, design experts purchased black-smoked ceramics, wool blankets, handmade barrels, and painted Easter eggs.

"The patterns of the Carpathian lizhniky are very authentic, I think, the monochrome variants of these will suit a certain interior," - Italian architect commented on his purchase. ICON magazine editor Laura Snoad especially liked black-smoked ceramic candlesticks: “Christmas is coming; they’ll perfectly suit to my holiday styling.” Some of the products European guests made themselves – truly a memorable souvenir!

The organizer of the first design expedition – Victoria Yakusha - aims to outline Ukraine on the world`s design map, to inspire design colleagues all over the world with a unique craft techniques of this region, a true cultural heritage of Eastern Europe.