«We often laugh with Katerina when I tell her: «Oops, it seems that I created a lamp again». Even the people who know us for a long time and know that we do everything in terms of interior design, sometimes forget about it and ask us: «Yeah, lamps are cool, but do you work with interiors?» And it's funny,» - Dan Vakhrameyev says.
FILD was established in 2012 in Kiev (Ukraine) by Dan Vakhrameyev. Dan got his MA degree at Art-Design International University of Salvador Dali. Since then, he has successfully worked with different creative foundations. Dan has an experience in branding, graphic design as well as commercial advertising lay-outs.
In 2014 Kateryna Fedorenko joined FILD as an executive director. Kateryna has her background in fashion industry. She brought her management skills and fashion vision into this creative collaboration.
In 2014 FILD started its very first object design collection called SUSTAINABLE ORIGINS. Now this company is well known not only in Ukraine but also abroad and is one of the top companies that formed object design industry in Ukraine.
Its collection of lamps is number one in Ukraine. And people sometimes forget that this creative company works with interior design in general, not only with its object elements. This is the main reason for jokes between Dan and Katerina. But we decided to talk also about some serious things regarding design in Ukraine.
How do you assess Ukrainian object design today? What are the main challenges for its development?
Dan: If we benchmark it against international standards, I need to say that there is no object design here so far. It is in the process of formation now. There are only a few studios that are successfully engaged in object design here.
Katerina: Design now exists separately from manufacturing. Now the manufacturer does not refer to the designer for some ideas. That's our mentality and lack of confidence that the Ukrainian designer can provide some interesting idea.
Dan: It seems to me that there are also some other reasons. When manufacturer has been selling some sofas for 15 years, he does not have even an idea about doing something in a different way in line with modern demands. Yes, he has his client and he does not need anything different.
Katerina: There is a large gap between the manufacturer and the designer and the designer himself combines many functions. He has to be a director, a producer, marketing and sales manager, all in one.
Dan: But at the same time when I see the results of different competitions among the designers, I am pleasantly surprised. There are so many good ideas there and manufacturers can currently take them almost for free and then to pay royalties. It is a great opportunity for all of us.
But design requires scrupulous attitude to quality of execution, to the materials. And we do not have a lot of manufacturers who monitor such things properly. Plus, all of this ultimately has an impact on price. Sometimes for a producer it is easier to copy and paste and not to bother with ideas too much. 3D models are available almost on every design studio’s website. That is why there are so many fakes all around. It is sad.
Katerina: Intellectual property right exists from the moment of its creation, and is confirmed by step by step sketches and drawings. But it's a huge waste of time and effort to advocate and protect it in court. Our philosophy is to be honest in our work, and the rest is the business of everybody’s conscience. We comply with legal provisions. Especially now, when we get more orders from Europe.
Another big problem relates to shipping goods abroad. 30-40% failure rate consists of orders that do not have a cheap way of delivery. Now there are some companies that want to represent us on different international markets. But for now our foreign-economic agreements cause resentment in many ways.
Dan: Some ideas can’t be implemented due to technical features. It is important to place the product on the stream. We have been working with contractors, and the final assembly and quality control is taking place in our location. Next is to present the product on a local market.
Katerina: Another challenge for designers is that our locations take some objects for free, while abroad ones are used to buy them. Therefore, there is no sense for us to be represented in many locations because we lose money.
Dan: I think, new generation, new manufacturers and new designers will grow and they will have different type of mentality. And the things will change. Just as the sense of taste that has to be different and new, but not post-Soviet one.
Katerina: It is necessary to travel in order to develop a taste of aesthetics. But it can happen only when your basic human needs are covered. And for now we have very difficult situation in the country. But we do already our first steps.
You should have seen these guys who had been engaged in international transportation for 15 years already and were so surprised when they sent our lamp abroad. They were astonished that we did our Ukrainian export for the first time!
Read: Olga Fradina: about design and art
How do you manage to find a balance between creative and the commercial component in your collections?
Dan: You have to take into account a lot of things. You draw a sketch and suddenly realize that you have a beautiful floor lamp, but you understand that it will be very expensive to deliver it to another country. Many people ask the question: why is it so expensive? It is just misunderstanding of how the price is composed. We have very complex details and that is why the costs are high. And these are rather image-building things than the ones for sale.
Katerina: But now we certainly take into account the final price. We want to create practical things for the good price, and not just some piece of art. This does not compromise with the quality but with some parts of production. For example, the lamp SO8 which has won first place in “Interior of the Year” competition, has not a simple story. It was a long and interesting process of its creation. We even constructed a special machine to create a perfectly curved shape of this lamp. But it was not vain effort. There was an enormous demand for this item. And, again, this is a question of production.
Dan: A lot depends also upon the locations. There are some of them in Kiev with professional approach to the representation of design items such as Gallery 48, DAVIS CASA, Prostir 86, DIZAAP, and some other offline platforms and online ones.
Minimalism is quite popular in our country. Why? And what will be the next hottest design style here?
Dan: I think that some things will be popular for a long time, they will simply move on to the other stages. Generally, in the world pure forms of styles are now disappearing, styles are being mixed. It all depends on the companies and designers: some prefer the style of the '60s, some choose classics. As for me, minimalism is not annoying and it's something that requires more delicate taste. This is the beauty of simplicity and purity. At the same time, this simplicity is achieved through a difficult way: a lot is based on materials, structure and colors. I think the Scandinavian design will be popular here; it is top of mind all over the world already now. It is functional and at the same time simple.
If you are looking for home furnishings for yourself, where would you buy them?
Dan: It would be the Scandinavian companies, most probably. They have minimalistic things and magical combination of colors.
Katerina: But now we can already create the complete interior based on ideas of Ukrainian designers, and it's great.
Read: Z collection of furniture by Olexiy Karman
There is a saying “if you want to lose a friend” start business with him/her. And how do you manage to live harmoniously as a couple in the profession and in life outside business?
We go fifty-fifty in all our efforts and our awards. There are no conflicts due to the fact that we divide our responsibilities and we give confidence to each other. I trust Katerina in terms of managing some things, and she trusts me in creating the objects.
Katerina: Also we have a largely similar attitude to life; our way of thinking, aesthetic issues and honesty are very similar. We are much alike.
Dan: It's fate, and we are grateful to God for it.
Katerina: I have reasonable attitude to my man. I help him and I respect his opinion. When you work with friends, it is a question of honor.
Dan: You need to perceive your partner-friend as a friend first of all, and afterwards as a partner.
Katerina: It's great when a customer or partner becomes a friend. We have such cases. We choose the right partner for a long time, but it's worth it. He have to enjoy your work.
Do you have a project of your dream?
Dan: Almost everything we do is a dream. Not only the goal is important for us, but also the process: with whom and how we work. I would like to work with well-known European companies that have their own production base, where I can try something new and learn new things.
Some social projects can make me happy too.
Katerina: Now there is lack of mentors in Ukraine, who can help you to learn and develop.
Den: The dream of every designer is when someone comes to him/her and says: “We will give you projects and you will implement them the way you want.”
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak