Since Russia first attacked Ukraine earlier this year, the world has watched in horror as Ukrainians, under constant bombardment, are forced to flee their homes and their neighbourhoods. For architects and designers in the country, as for everyone else, the war means seeing essential buildings, including their healthcare facilities, destroyed and their livelihoods placed on hold. To celebrate Ukrainian architecture and design is more important than ever, and here we showcase ten great studios in the nation, a selection that we will continue building upon on our Instagram page.
Led by architect and CEO Valentin Dorofeev, B Place creates residential and commercial spaces that vary in style from, as they say, “modern luxury to rustic charm.” Regardless of aesthetic, the well-appointed interiors feature a deft layering of materials, textures and patterns. One of their most recent apartments, in Kyiv, is a great example.
Dubbed Chicago Sunset, the 187-square-metre home emphasizes unique details that feel time-honoured, including found objects like a vintage bench sourced from the Netherlands — used as a bar counter — and bespoke features, like metal partitions that incorporate handmade ribbed glass panels in subdued hues. Furnishings by Roche Bobois, B&B Italia, Cassina and more round out the resplendent design.
Founded by Slava Balbek, Balbek Bureau has created numerous buzz-worthy projects, from corporate offices to hotels and wellness centres. But its best-known project was the conversion of a former military arsenal into the Kyiv Food Market, aimed to gather “the best Kyiv restaurants under one roof, where each of them would showcase their dishes,” according to the firm. Over the past several weeks, dozens of cooks have been serving meals to support Ukraine’s military, hospitals, police and security forces in the complex.
To transform old to new, the firm retained the industrial character of the 2,000-square-metre building but imbued it with vibrant life. The architects preserved the main load-bearing roof structure, restoring and re-installing the lathing, and maintained the generous skylights that bathe the atrium in light. With the interiors, the firm was careful to adhere to the style of the complex: “the walls were left bare, revealing authentic brick, that was originally used to build the entire Arsenal architectural ensemble.”
A dramatic, ceiling-spanning chandelier on the second level adds a modern element to the design. But the most important element that the design brought forth was a sense of ambience; the architects and the client succeeded in creating a special gathering space to celebrate Ukrainian cuisine.
One of the most stylish Ukrainian interiors firms that we’ve come across is boutique studio Men Bureau, led by Oleksandr Maruzhenko. With a penchant for timeless materials and smooth, sculpted surfaces, his projects exude an of-the-moment yet timeless style.
Among his interior highlights is the WS House (above), where a Bocci pendant animates a smooth-lined space with built-in and freestanding shelving that amplifies the sculptural quotient. Another recent project, the RYB apartment (below) contrasts his curved walls, best executed as window frames, with integrated rectilinear millwork.
With a focus on acoustic comfort, product design company Re:Quiet has created a variety of sound-absorbing products, from wallcoverings to furnishings, made from recycled plastic bottles. Their signature material is easy to care for, hypoallergenic and dust-resistant.
With designs by Evgeny Litvinenko, Kristina Gaidamaka and Dmitry Yakovlev, the pieces come in playful shapes, like this assembly of panels made of circles and lozenges that doubles as wall art.
From a handsome student apartment building in Grenada to sophisticated residences in Dallas, Dubai and Zürich, Artem Trigubchak has created work around the world. Some of his most stunning works, however, are in his home country, and include an apartment in Kyiv (below) featuring an uncommon palette of yellows (most impressively in the custom kitchen island), greens and terracottas.
The Breadway Bakery in Odessa, meanwhile, shows him at his most colourful. While his apartments favour subdued palettes, subtle textures, and rational lines, Breadway (below) features pink and rounded forms in all their glory, from the plush banquettes to the opulent chandelier and the gridded grout for the blue-tile backsplash.
Formerly known as Fild, +Kouple counts itself as “one of the main companies that formed an object design industry in Ukraine.” The husband-and-wife team behind the label, Dan Vakhrameyev and Kateryna Vakhrameyeva, are enamoured with clean, minimalist shapes and lines, and with enduring materials like wood and powder-coated steel. And it shows in their lovely lamps, wall hooks and side tables. In December 2016, they opened their first +kouple store, in Kyiv city centre.
One of the biggest breakout stars of Ukrainian design is Faina by Victoria Yakusha, who also creates spellbinding interiors and architectural concepts under the name Yakusha. Faina stands out for its organic aesthetic — which we have described as primordial and part of a trend toward a hand-wrought process of making. Most compelling is her Ztista table, with a base whose materiality seems as if kneaded by hand — in fact, “ztista” means “made of dough” in Ukrainian.
Alta Idea Design Studio, founded by Julia Baydyk in 2008 in Kyiv, creates energetic residential and commercial interiors, everything from houses and apartments to hotels and spas — and it’s a firm that’s not afraid to use colour. “We strive to create a space equipped with all possible amenities for a free but elegant lifestyle,” Baydyk explains. One of its recent projects is this 55-square-metre apartment, called Happiness, in Kryukovshchina, where hits of colour were inspired by the client’s personal tastes, including the marsh green that recurs in millwork and the Pedralli dining chairs.
Strikingly modern yet serene houses are the specialty of Form Bureau, founded by architects Viktoriia Shkliar and Olga Antontseva in 2004. Its resplendent projects include the aptly named Zen house (below), where rough-wood beams and columns — and contrastingly smooth, custom-built screens — frame expanses of white-washed walls.
Vilchinskaya Design Bureau is another great Ukrainian studio that embraces colour. This beauty salon, designed by the firm’s Anastasiia Vilchinskaya, Svitlana Korovina, Valeriya Konovalenko and Tetiana Alokhina, delivers a number of eclectic moments for selfie-seekers while also providing a relaxing environment for splurging on number one. The 120-square-metre space opens with a copper-finished reception area boasting a delightful macramé hanging — a bit of old-timey charm in a resolutely modern space that features hits of marble and cobalt blue in its boisterous palette.
We highlight a selection of architecture, interiors and product design firms that exemplify the country’s contemporary scene.