Architect Viktoria Yakusha: About Ukrainian Design


Photo Viktoria Yakusha
Her name is famous not only in Ukraine but also abroad. Her work was included in the “Best Home design” Swiss edition (40 best houses in the world) as well as into “Contemporary villas” collection.  Her projects were published in Russian, Israeli, Georgian, Mexican magazines.

Viktoria, what was the start of your career?
I entered the architectural University without thinking much. I thought: “I'll go, there is nothing complicated.” But of course it turned out not to be so easy. But I am very hardworking person. I started my practice when I was still a student. My teachers praised me but I just did my best. I participated in different competitions and won them. After graduation I gave birth to my first child but that did not stop my work as an architect. Later I hired some people to my team.

How did the Ukrainian design change during 5 years?
Everything is moving in a good direction. Now the technological progress allows young designers to move by leaps and bounds. They are very talented. They find access to all kinds of design software. For example, it is not a problem for young designers to install “3D MAX” program on any computer. In other countries it is more difficult because the licensed programs are very expensive.

During Bologna design week this September you presented the collection of object design “Faina” (Beautiful). Will you continue to work in this direction?
I have never wanted to work with product design because I love the scale, I am an architect. But "Faina" collection is really something that I wanted to create to represent my country.

How would you describe impression of the Italians about the Ukrainian design while "Bologna Design Week"?
For them it was unexpected in good sense. I don’t like when people dress up vyshivanka and think that it makes them real Ukrainians. But I don’t like totally cosmopolitan approach as well. Cosmopolitanism is good for those nations which have long history of their national identification. For us this process has only started. We can create our culture and share it with other countries. That happened in Bologna. We represented Ukrainian unique design and Italians liked it a lot.

What are the main design principles that you have in mind when you start new project for a client?
I should be primarily interested in a person and in his project. When he opens up and describes what he wants to get, it becomes clear for me whether I start the project or not. In our mentality there is an attitude to a designer as to service staff. And this is wrong. The designer has to listen to the client’s wishes, interpret them and implement the ideas in his/her way of vision. The customer does not always know what is good and what is bad. But I am lucky - people come to my office with recommendations, so they already know my attitude to work.

What design style do people in Ukraine prefer now?
Well, usually it is a mix of different styles with traditional solutions. I prefer pure styles with creative approach.
Who and what inspires you?
Zaha Hadid is a great example of a woman-architect. It is incredibly difficult to combine these two things. I think it is a tough, male and obsessional job. Therefore, it is so hard for a lady to be an architect. But of course there are other examples for inspiration: Marcel Wanders, Santiago Calatrava, Kelly Wearstler. They are all different, and they have their own style.

What difficulties are faced by the Ukrainian design today?
Manufacturing is the main problem. It is very difficult to standardize the product and to produce it for mass market, to make it competitive. I hope that the situation will change because the demand for the Ukrainian design increases every day.
How do you manage to combine work and family life?
I have 3 children but I can’t live without architecture as well as without the family. My husband supports me and shares our family responsibilities. But I'm not trying to create some kind of an empire, I just do what I love and my family is a part of it.

What is the dream of Victoria Yakusha as a designer?
We have done wonderful thing in Bologna. This is an opportunity to promote the Ukrainian design. I would like to be recognized as an architect in a global context. The Ukrainian design exists.
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak 

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