Ukrainian design is honest, natural, alive… and even mystical. Ukrainian design is symbolical, minimalistic and … ironical. But how to identify it as a phenomenon? And is everything possible with design could be touchable?
The first attempt to segment or understand the order of atoms composing matter called “Ukrainian design”, almost undiscovered in Europe yet, started with formulation of research results in mid-2017. By that time under initial observation, system participants were divided into three abstract categories: GREEN TRIANGLES, BLACK SQUARES and WHITE CIRCLES.
In the process of development over the past two years, designers have more and more acquired specific features, recognition and self-awareness, that prompted me to revise the system structure a bit. The more designers “work” the bigger and deeper their knowledge of themselves become, that logically gave more content to the definition itself, and “volume” expression to the designers. Here we are talking primarily about the object design, as a rather new self-expression for Ukrainians, a new relevant area of professional activity.
So, in fact, this research arose from the need to systematize Ukrainian object design, highlight the general features that can characterize it, present it in a more understandable way to the European society. The direction of segmentation (or identification) is aimed at accelerated and harmonious integration of knowledge about the “different” way of thinking of Ukrainians to the “knowledge base” of the European design community, to make to fall in love with contemporary and traditional mental Ukrainian features. Ironically, as soon as foreigners begin to determine the uniqueness and attractiveness of Ukrainian otherness, we begin to value and change ourselves our attitude towards our own “treasures”. The treasures of Ukraine are people, so it would be inappropriate to define the objects separately from people who create them. This research is the result of a combination of observing people in the design and analysis of the meanings, forms and materials they use, and subjects and objects they design.
What is the design like in Ukraine today? Or in other words – what are people like in Ukrainian design nowadays?
“GREEN PYRAMIDS” – “CAN-DOERS” — THOSE WHO CAN DO
We codename the first category, which stands out in a clear direction, and which is quite understandable and mastered by Ukrainian designers, as “voices of nature”, or “green pyramids”. For modern designers of this category, the territory itself determines the choice of material, technology and philosophy of the subject itself. They are like pyramids, stable and confident. Naturalness is their priority accent. They use materials and techniques inherent to people living in a particular area. One of the features is the use of manual labor elements, for example, in the traditional processing of materials. For Ukrainians, wood, clay, leather, stone, wool, natural fabrics (linen, hemp) are as natural as their own self-consciousness. We can also talk about mysticism of Ukrainians, their traditional tribal connection with the original forces of nature, the mystical daemons of the elements, and so on.
EXTRACT – Attention is given to material, skill, and tradition preservation. “Live in Memory” and on Earth.
This category includes designers who claim their “green choice”. They are characterized by ethical design, environmental design, design that combines traditional materials and national heritage. Ukrainianity may be expressed in the symbolism of objects decorating, and maybe not be, but in any case, you will hear the “voice” of Ukrainian land.
The design protecting the vibrations of natural elements, tries to discover the natural properties of the material. These objects have tradition-based history, “ethnic memory,” the energy that comes from nature and human hands, these objects are body amulets in a metaphysical sense, and even in the truest sense of the word, with regard to designers of clothing from hemp or linen.
The prominent representatives of this category are Victoria Yakusha, Yuri Ryntovt, Inna Pedan, Olena Shabaltas, Khrystyna Haydamaka, Mykhailo Samoriz, VelikaBogaiha ceramics and the likes.
BLACK CUBES – “KNOWERS” – THOSE WHO KNOW.
This category includes designers with a clear, precise position. They determined, above all, within themselves. They have found a clear form of consciousness, sufficient even for self-irony and a little isolated philosophical position.
Their language of expression is the symbolism of the content prevailing over the choice of materials for the object manufacturing.
They create code-items. The main argument is “object-message”, information contained in a concentrated form, which “speaks” by form, color, or symbols.
Several word-markers for recognizing “black cubes” are meaning, symbol, consciousness, irony, uncompromising.
Much of their attention is directed to the sense, they “live in Eternity over the Noosphere”
They are like in the black square, the symbol of suprematism, which contains everything. Looking at the depths of the black square, it is possible to extract any meaning and any form from it.
The designers of this category are Serhiy Gotvyansky, Slava Balbek, Dmytro Kozynenko, Artem Kolyuka, Levantin design, Kofta, Yuriy Zymenko, Natasha Yegorova, Andriy Sukhin, Den and Katerina Vakhrameev, Nazar Maleets, Yulia Yalanzhi, Fedir Vozyanov, Anna Manakova, Volodymyr Karalyus and others.
WHITE SPHERES – “WANTERS” — EMOTIONAL.
The white field in reality is diverse and multicolored, giving birth to a whole “rainbow” spectrum. Here are all the designers who are “on the road”, in development, in the search. They are easy to transform, they seek, flexibly respond to internal and external requests.
They freely choose any tools, themes, forms, materials, not giving preference to something certain. The designers of the white field are extremely productive.
The white field produces objects of various categories, which can be attributed to different individual directions that are shaped in the world design.
Their attention is distracted around, for developments, for research and searches, they “live in the future”,” fly among the clouds”.
All object innovations are born in this sector, because interest, curiosity is the first characteristic for “white” designers.
Residents of the white field are Vitalik and Yura Kyryliv (Hochu rayu), Valery Kuznetsov, Iryna Gumenchuk, Vahan Avakyan, Maria Krasyuk, Iryna Holub, Rostik Sorokovy, Ulyana Zachkevych and many others.
Here are several word-markers for recognizing “white spheres”: emotionality, curiosity, unexpectedness, courage, innovation, and meaning.
Between each category there are “transitional” territories. At the same time, a designer, studio or manufacturer can exist between only two categories: between green and white, green and black, black and white. But it can never hold the characteristics of the three sectors at once. In this case, it should be classified as a white category – those who are in search.
For example: the “black and green” are Sergiy Makhno, Svoya Studio, Artem Zakharchenko. The “black and white” are Pavel Vetrov, Kateryna Sokolova, Yevhen Lytvynenko, and Igor Gavrylenko.
Designers from the main categories appeal to their audience — “green” to “green”, black to “black” and these are usually consumers with high and “middle +” income. These are those consumers who already know the price of quality and understand the meaning of paying for sense.
“HEXAGONAL PRISMS” – “DEVELOPERS”, THOSE WHO FORM SENSES.
In mid-2018, changes in the composition, but rather in the very structure of the design environment system, became noticeable. Until now, individual activists, as clearly to say “people around the design” began to turn chaotic point movements into attempts to create a systematic approach to the very process of developing an ecosystem of design.
“Designers of design development”, which are commonly referred differently, starting from pr-managers to architects and industrial/graphic designers, are classified as “hexagonal prisms” if they, in parallel to main activity or continuously and systematically, project, implement processes and events where designers participate. Accordingly, these “prisms” provide the very habitat; create conditions for the development of the environment, giving additional links in the chain of design value to designers. In other words, they are “service” designers of field design development (eco-system).
To this category Yaroslav Belinsky, Olga Bogdanova, Sana Shevchenko, Ornela Ostapenko, Tetyana Telegina, Iryna Pryma, Olga Teerefeeva, Olga Protasova, Tetyana Stakhovska may be included. And I will not forget about myself – Anastasiya Biletska and others, who, in parallel with or by the main activity, devote time to the development of the design environment.
Several word-markers for recognizing “hexagonal prisms” are social orientation, meaning, development, systemacity, generator, starter.
Thus for today, the eco-system of Ukrainian design is almost fully evolving, but requires systematization of processes and orderly structure. Designers and “system designers” should together build a harmonious system of interaction between the design community and the state, with the community and with international professional partners. In plain language, the task for the community is to integrate the principles of design thinking into everyday life of people in order to improve its conditions and enhance the level of culture with design tools. Created at the end of March, the Design for Ukraine Association aims to develop and implement comprehensive measures designed to streamline the system and establish all necessary network links, both local and international. Among the top-priority projects of the Association are such as Design Navigator, the first in-depth study of the ecosystem; Ukrainian Design Week, a week of design, the foundation of the Museum of Design, etc. The main ambitious goal of Design for Ukraine is to build the Design Center institution. The Center will consolidate the knowledge base of the industry, work out development programs for other sectors of the creative industries, taking into account design-thinking approaches, and supervise programs for implementing design in various spheres of public life. Also, the Center must constantly monitor the functioning of the design sector in order to identify timely new and useful innovations and methods of practical application.
* the research takes into account the state of the Ukrainian design eco-system by June 2019
To be continued…
Written by Anastasiia Biletska
original version of the article was printed in PRIMA INTERIOR magazine