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VICTORIA YAKUSHA: «MY TASK IS TO NURTURE TASTE BUT NOT TO ENFORCE TRENDS»

yakusha sm9.30 The designer-architect is comfortably sitting at her desk surrounded by sketches and drawings. With a quiet, firm voice she is explaining her employee the project details.

She has brought to life hundreds of such already, adding an inimitable style to each of them. Many of them were recognized by experts and international community.

You can learn the story of a modest girl from Dnepropetrovsk who has managed to become one of the leading designers and architects in Ukraine from Victoria Yakusha’s honest monologue.

First recognition: the head of Venus

I had to choose architecture consciously. When I was a child I used to think that I couldn’t do anything particular apart from drawing. My school teacher scolded me for my Math, but they complimented me at the Art School.

And then I found myself at the preparatory courses surrounded by the offspring of eminent architects, children of the deans and college teachers; they seemed to be so clever, they knew how to hold a pencil properly, understood all architecture styles – they were stars!

I felt like a stranger sitting as a little grey mouse at the back of the classroom and kept drawing… (Those were the heads of Apollo, David, Venus; I had to replicate the latter at the exam).

Teachers and fellow students would come up to me and looking at my works they gave some advices, corrected. Eventually they started showing approvals, admiration…
And one fine day I realized that my drawing is more than “regular”. I remember that my teacher called me “the main competitor” before the exam.

I understood then that I was stronger than I had thought. Suddenly I blushed severely as inherently I was very shy (I have been giving courses, teaching at colleges, reading lectures for 10 years already, but I’m still a bit shy).


From France with the “blown mind”

Study in France may be called a half-yearly “mind-blowing”. I remember four families came to our studio and told us that they wanted to live in one house at a certain plot. But everyone had own “funny” wishes: someone needed an acrobatic gym, another one wanted a library 3 meters long, and one of the families had four children.

My house project was like a Rubik's Cube. At the exam I defended it so diligently in my broken French-English that as a result received the highest mark among foreign students.

It turned out that the clients were fictitious... This is how they teach in Strasbourg.


Family is the source of strength

I met my husband at the station, when I was going To Dnepropetrovsk from Krasnoarmeysk. I was 15 and he was 17. I had been pulling his leg for about 4 years – I was quite a flirty girl as I knew that boys liked me and I turned their heads.

But my husband behaved very wisely then: he kept me in his view but didn’t burden. And when Valera returned from army – mature, wearing a white sweater – I as if rediscovered him for myself, and I didn’t want to separate anymore. We got married when I finished the University…

Then Masha came into being, after her was Nazar, and relatively recently, unexpectedly for us – Vanechka.

My family is my protection, the place where I gain strength. I always tell everything to my husband after a hard day. He is my partner and closest friend. If I have spare time, I spend it only with my family. After all, if you don’t preserve and don’t maintain the relationships, then why you need family – just formally, for the sake of appearance?

At the weekend we are always together – work is forbidden. We like going to the park, attend festivals, cinema, museums.

We always laugh a lot during such journeys – my husband is a great joker, and I’ve been an easily amused person since childhood.

«Valera, you must have married me so that to have someone to laugh at. » - I joke. And he wouldn’t quiet down and starts joking on a Little Hippo, Curly Boy or Marusia Patrikeyevna – these are the pet names he gave to our children.


This is the house that Vika built

This is my favorite project which I created while trying to understand what exactly my family and I need. It appeared as a necessity.

We lived in Kyiv center then, and children had nowhere to play: no playgrounds, dirty parks, gas-polluted air. Taking care of children, we decided to build it in the pine forest with maximum use of natural materials.
I tried to make it simple and functional. I really desired the feeling of air, that is why our living-room’s height is 5.5 meters.

The biggest luxury we afforded was the second-level space. The house is designed in such a way that I can talk with children who are playing on the second floor. Plus the first floor leads right to the veranda. Everything is communicating as a whole body.

When we started home decorating, I got pregnant with the third baby, and we didn’t know who we were expecting, either a boy or a girl, and we had only two children rooms. So we re-planned the rooms in such a way that a new dweller could take any of them. If we have the fourth baby, there will be place for him too.


The customer is always happy

When I ask new customers: “Where are you going to hang your towels?” or “Do you use bidet or hand-held bidet shower?” many of them get in a flap… But I ask these questions to do well to them but not to play the role of a detective.

I design and implement a project from 2 to 12 months, and my task is to learn the customer’s habits, timetable, and lifestyle to make everything well-thought-out in the house.

There are customers who want the closet shelf to be not 60 cm wide, but 40 – since a folded sweater takes up this very space. Somebody likes nuts on the chest, so it should be of this very height. The designer must know all this. Then the customer will be happy and the designer will be satisfied in mind.

I like working with those customers who help me develop however they require much energy. As a rule, these are people who have already built something; they have experience, money and status. Usually such people choose me.


Arrangement difficulties

Sometimes I come across the distrust – the heritage of the Soviet mentality. We need to live it through. Yes, unfortunately most architects and designers of our country are not that professional to win confidence. At various times I had to amend someone’s projects.

I work for a rather long period – I always convince the customer if I see that it’s going to be bad. I wouldn’t take an “ugly” project for money. I will feel ashamed for doing so – and I care about my inner condition.

My task is to nurture the taste but not to enforce modern trends which come and disappear. The architect forms the vision, views, space, and surroundings. And while forming the space, you are forming the world outlook.

You won’t throw away a piece of paper in the street of a beautiful city, but when everything around you is poor, grey, depressing, crooked and wry – you lower the bar for yourself.


Mission is possible: the house 2000 м2

When we took up the project with 2 000 м2, we understood that it was a challenge: large area, modern style, no budget, no orienting points, changing plans, many mistakes made by the predecessors.

We were the eighth architect team therefore we were accepted incredulously but later after we had shown the result – the attitude changed. The customer called us “the best architects of Ukraine”, and he has referred to us 4 more times with new projects.

A red rose?!

Once I had a question: «Can you do in such a way that people would “faint” in delight when come into my house?». Of course, I can!

And the creative process has started. I studied the customer, her temperament. One day I saw a card with a leather red rose on my daughter’s desk. EUREKA!

This is how the apartment with two thousand leather roses was born, and all guests go into raptures when enter it.

The “red rose” style is absolutely not typical for me, but the customer inspired me so much, so I found just what she wanted. We all were happy.

Only men in architecture...

I believe that architecture is male profession. It is hard for women here because this is the occupation you live with. You leave with the architecture, come with the architecture, and sleep with it.

It takes all your time – this is the vocation. A doctor wouldn’t forget about his seriously ill patient neither at day or night time. An architect as well would carry a project in his head until he sees it implemented.

Besides that, at the construction stage a woman-architect always needs to win authority in front of the construction manager – because he is “the expert who has worked at site for 20 years”, and what “a woman even who has implemented several projects” can tell him.

it is difficult but possible. I already know how to clearly distribute the duties and responsibility areas.


VY style – closer to nature

I like laconic forms very much. But being a woman I can’t create dry minimalism.

That is why I often add picturesque elements to the interior. I also like working with natural materials – greenery, wood, wool.

Trends change every 3-4 years but eco-style will be always. In the era of huge megacities everyone wants to be closer to nature.

Besides, the dry minimalistic interiors are going away, and now people want more comfort and coziness. This doesn’t mean that all would turn to «ruching”. But some romance is added.
I don’t always do eco-minimalism but I create laconic interiors. I don’t like stuff in the interior, make it “emotionally clean” so that the image was clear.

Laconism, naturality, functionality are the three main components of my style.


The author’s course «S cubed»

If you are a professional, you have the need for devolving knowledge to others. At first I held a course “The Interior enlightenment”, then due to my pregnancy the course was interrupted. And now I have the course “S cubed”.

Why «S cubed»? It comes from English words «start», «support» and «success». Students come with real projects and I participate in them. Sometimes when I see what kinds of projects are entrusted to inexperienced designers, it makes my hair curl… Correcting, drawing anew.

I remember one girl came with the project of the kitchen. It was all sad. But after three days’ classes it was a completely different project – a mere masterpiece.

I lay three things against designers: they can do anything, they must be professionals, and they are responsible for the project. And they have no right to say: “The project is lame because the client has no taste».


“Fayna” collection gains the heart of Italy

It was in 2014. Once I was driving a car and a thought came up to my mind: “What can I do to help my country?” And my mind started drawing the images of the collection if Ukrainian style. “I will tell the world that Ukraine is not the Third World country but the part of Europe where the stylish design exists!”

This is how the first items from “Fayna” collection appeared – at first the chair, then cushions with Ukrainian ornament, and later the sofa. Of course the money from sales was spent on charity.

Then several designers and me were qualified to participate in Bologna Design Week — 2015.

We urgently had to fill the gaps in the collection with the chest, table and floor-lamp as we received large space in an ancient castle. In the process my know-how appeared – the furniture with clay elements.

It was a surprise for the Italians that Ukraine has beautiful, stylish design. They looked at us as if we were circus performers. Afterwards we treated them with salo, home-made sausage and mead. We won their recognition forever.

We showed that “the Third World Country” has nothing to do with us.


The preferred drink – champagne

A worthy quotation - «Architecture is not a servicing but shape-generating profession» Zaha Hadid.

The main Главный source of inspiration – nature.

Favorite city – Strasbourg.

Favorite flowers – chrysanthemum.

Always ready to laugh over — husband’s jokes and children’s crankeries.

Favorite dish — kurnik cooked by the husband.

It is needed for success — to sweat guts out and enjoy it

Quotes:

«I’m not interested about working “for the desk” – just drawing the projects. I like implementing».

«An architect forms the vision, views, space, and surroundings. And while forming the space, you are forming the world outlook»