Dispatches from Ukrainian Designers: Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska
Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska, Gunia Project, Kyiv
Project: Indigo Collection
Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska: We worked for a long time in the fashion industry, but our creative duo was formed doing volunteer work with the Ivan Honchar Museum National Centre of Folk Culture in 2017. We had the idea of modernizing Ukrainian art and creating a modern Ukrainian souvenir. Our first product was the Hutsul wool coat gunya, which is created by hand on machines in the Carpathian Mountains. The Gunia Project got its name from this product, and we founded the brand in 2019. Today, we represent exquisite collections of handmade tempered brown glassware, ceramics, carpets, and accessories with a touch of details of Ukrainian ethnic culture.
In 2021, we moved to a new showroom in the center of Kyiv, twice the size of our first store. After the start of the war, we were forced to close the showroom and production facilities and move to Western Ukraine to save our lives. We planned to transport the artists we work with to western Ukraine as well. But today we have moved away from that idea and left the ceramic production in Kyiv. Artists of other categories are located in different cities, and most of them have already resumed their work. We’ve partially resumed production in Kyiv and are beginning to process orders made before the war and accept new ones. We are looking for production opportunities in Europe, but are doing everything possible to provide work for craftsmen in Ukraine in the first place. Western Ukraine is safest now, and we have manufacturers of glass and vines there. It’s so difficult to predict the future, but the team is doing everything we can. We’re already seeing support and growth in international orders, and most of them are from the United States.
“We are looking for production opportunities in Europe, but are doing everything possible to provide work for craftsmen in Ukraine in the first place.”
It’s very important at this time to talk about the aspects that the enemy wants to destroy—about the cultural heritage and our art and history. The war affected all imaginable areas, and architecture and design are no exception. There are cities that are completely destroyed, such as Mariupol, the city in which the most money was invested in the last year to create public squares. It has been completely wiped off the face of the earth. Many architectural monuments will be impossible to recreate, and the work of architects has been stopped as it is impossible to know where the bombs will land tomorrow.
We are confident that victory will bring prosperity to these industries. We would so much like international designers, urban planners, and architects to be involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine in order to recreate cities and make them even better.
See more interviews from Ukrainian architects and designers about the state of their offices, their industries, and their homes here.
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