“Design is not just about making something beautiful or comfortable, design is also about helping people after the war.”
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine (which began on 24 February 2022) entering its eleventh day, much like every citizen of the country, Ukrainian designers, architects, and RV manufacturers have expressed their anger, despair, and hope concerning the deplorable situation. Homecrux tried to make contact with some of the renowned designers and architects from the European breadbasket – when it all started – however, we were greeted to “Error 404” on every other website we opened; depicting the dark side of the war unfolding in Ukraine.
We somehow managed to touch base with a few architects and designers who told us, how they had to shut down their studios, stop manufacturing, and flee (or make provision to leave) to other parts of Europe with their families. Some of them told us – with filled hearts – that they are unwilling to leave their home and studios behind. A larger population, forcefully relocating, mentions how incredibly hard it is to deport to a safe place leaving a life’s belongings and memories behind.
“We have nowhere to go and no reason to leave. This is our home, here are our parents. This war is going on practically all over the country right now, it’s not safe anywhere,” said Dmitriy Sivak, Ukraine-based interior designer who runs studio Sival+Partners.
“On TV, the battle maps don’t show all the bombing points so as not to scare people. We have to run into basements several times a day because of bomb threats. Everyone sits with suitcases at the ready. Our fears are that we cannot believe promises that they will not shoot civilians. There have already been many civilian murders, far more than they say on TV. All these threats of nuclear weapons only inspire more fear. We will not be safe in a basement or anywhere in the world,” Dimitry added.
The fear is understandable. Reuters reported deaths of more than 2,000 civilians in war-ridden areas on the basis of reports from the Ukrainian Emergency Service. The country looks in shambles after the Russian invasion; it has seen the fastest migration in decades with nearly 660,000 people – largely women and children – forced to leave their country for safer havens, via The New York Times.
Ukraine has produced some of the finest designers, and the country is known for its creative edge in the field of art and architecture. With the ongoing war, some members of the design fraternity in Ukraine have shared their thoughts on the future of design, art, and architecture in the country with us (we appreciate and thank each one of them who have found time to narrate their perspective to us).
Reflecting his thoughts on the future of design, Dmitriy stated, “I am more eager than ever in my life to build and design in my country, to rebuild. I didn’t want to leave before the war either, because there are enough talented architects and designers in Europe. But, there is a real need for design here, especially after the war.” He proudly says, “Design is not just about making something beautiful or comfortable, design is also about helping people after the war.”
The situation is not at all comforting for anyone and is only getting worse with each passing day. As reported by Metro UK, Russian troops in Ukraine recently bombed a radioactive waste storage facility in Kyiv (the Ukrainian capital), destroyed radiation monitoring systems, and have blown up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv and an oil depot in Kyiv. Ukraine’s administration and Amnesty International claim that the Russians have hit rockets and illicit weapons in schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and homes, killing civilians and children, NDTV reports.
Julia Shapovalova, CEO of LifeStyle Camper (LSC) told us, “We have a full-scale war. We are a peaceful country, but we love our country and will defend it. At the moment all our camper factories are intact and we hope to continue our work soon.”
Midway through our conversation, we lost contact with Julia. Her team assures us of her safety. Yulia Bourbeza, a team member of the LSC group pointed out that there is very little possibility of the CEO getting back in touch with us for the time being since internet connectivity is disrupted in the area. “I myself have left Ukraine with my family still in Kyiv,” Yulia said.
Since the invasion, dozens of architectural communities worldwide have expressed anger, grief, and offered their condolences to Ukraine. In fact, over 6,500 Russian architects and urban planners have also signed an open letter condemning the invasion of Ukraine, demanding an “immediate end of violent war.” We were unable to establish contact with many Ukrainian architects for their perspectives. Their websites are down and we presume they are migrating to other parts of Europe safely. We did, however, manage to connect with Sergey Makhno, an award-winning architect and designer of the Underground House Plan B. Makhno told us, “I am currently driving my family to a safe land in Europe because of war in my country, and will connect back soon.”
Apart from designers and architects, the war has also brought the life of artists to a standstill. Wishes are pouring in from every nook and cranny in support of artists and photographers in the country. The war has affected their lives in many ways. Oleksandr Makhno, wildlife and automotive photographer in Ukraine said, “God is with us, Devil is with them and devils never win.”
“I don’t know what’s going on in the outside world. It’s forbidden for now to take any photos,” he added. Commenting on the Warzone, Oleksandr said, “At siren, we go down the bunker. It plays very often and we are forced to take a shelter as the enemy let out their rockets.”
Zhanna Kadyrova, an artist who garnered a lot of attention for his sculptural clothing made from repurposed ceramic tiles said, “I am on a run to the west of Ukraine. The conditions are pathetic here. But Ukraine will fight.”
With many designers, architects not found and their website inoperational, ‘Error 404’ is just another allegory of the perils of war. The creative communities in Ukraine are pleading to Europe and the rest of the world to interfere and stop the carnage in their country. However, with a little ray of hope, the residents believe that the Ukrainian army is ready to batten down the hatches and the nation would see the blue sky once again.
Homecrux is Praying for Ukraine where “lives of the whole country have been put on pause and hidden underground.”
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