In the Mix
Designing a Movement
A new event in Kyiv celebrates contemporary Ukrainian design
Yesterday was Ukraine’s Independence Day. It was also the seventh day of a brand new annual design event, DVRZ Design Days in Kyiv. Driven by the same spirit of independence, determination, and ingenuity that the world has come to admire in the Ukrainian people following the brutal Russian invasion over the last year and a half, the event organizers brought together 18 Ukrainian design ateliers to launch a movement aimed at uplifting local culture and commerce.
As the promotional materials explain: “The curatorial team of DVRZ Design aims to support… Ukrainian designers and brands that continue to work despite difficult times; to establish communication between brands and designers and a wide audience; to popularize leading Ukrainian professionals on the local market in the Local2Local format; as well as to arouse interest in Ukrainian object design on the part of the press, influencers, and a wide audience, in particular progressive youth.”
The team includes design historian and critic Larysa Tsybina—who curated the event’s exhibitors along with its preceding, sister project, the Ukrainian Pavilion at the London Design Biennale last June—as well as Roman Mykhailov, partner at Panoptikum Collections, the event’s hosting gallery, located in Kyiv’s industrial district, known as DVRZ.
Selected for their scalable and ecological approaches that can sustainably meet large-scale demand, DVRZ Design Days' 18 exhibitors comprise NOOM, Kint Bureau, Joyf, SVITANOK, DONNA, Litvinenko Design, AMAZE vase, buro150, FURN OBJECT, Yalanzhi Objects, llab. design, LOFU, Varenycia Design, oitoproducts, PANOPTIKUM COLLECTIONS, ReStyle, EasyStory, and Gardi.
According to the exhibition's set designer, Yuriy Zimenko, “At the exhibition, there are no prototypes—no collectible design. We wanted to gather designers and brands in one place, to introduce manufacturers to designers and stimulate communication between them. We want to show that production is impossible without designers. We succeeded, and I hope we will see new products very soon.”
Through the course of the event, in collaboration with the Union of Responsible Citizens NGO, donations are being collected for the reconstruction of the Center for the Rehabilitation of Military and Civilian Victims of the War.
Inspired by the vision behind DVRZ Design Days, we reached out to the event organizers to hear how it’s going so far.
Design Miami/ How does it feel to see your vision for the event come to life, now that it’s open?
Larysa Tsybina/ When there is a war in your country, it isn't easy to be sure of the future. DVRZ DD was a dream that came true despite the difficult times for the Ukrainian design community. We are happy with the fact that it was realized and with the format.
Roman Mykhailov/ I am pleased to see how people attending our event interact with the objects presented. I am proud that we have something to show Ukrainians, something to be proud of in modern Ukrainian industrial design. The manufacturers represented by us create a high-quality product that is worthy of being part of the daily life of Ukrainians—and the whole world.
DM/ Can you share a few highlights?
LT/ It was vital for me to stick to a serial design format, so we chose to present the event in the industrial district of Kyiv. Each of the 18 participants is very important, because in this wartime they produce products at a certain volume. It was also essential to present our exhibition at the London Design Biennale to Ukrainians live, which talked about Ukraine's resources.
RM/ I think that one of the main points is the location where the event takes place, the Panoptikum gallery, which is unusual for the Ukrainian viewer. At the same time, we created a new event format—an exhibition event where the scenographer arranged the objects to create a general aesthetic beauty in the exhibition.
DM/ What has the response been like so far?
LT/ The uniqueness of everything that is happening with Ukrainians now is that some things we didn't have time to do in peacetime, we are doing in wartime. It fills us all with optimism and faith. Now everything takes on a new meaning and sense of life.
RM/ We received a lot of positive feedback from those who visited our location, who are representatives of modern Ukrainian design, a professional audience, and participants of our lecture hall, among others. We also got pleasant feedback from people who discovered the event and were able to spend 2-3 hours of their time at our location on weekends.
DM/ What do you most hope the public will take away from this event?
LT/ In my opinion, this is more than an event. It already feels like a Ukrainian design movement that will change the design system of Ukraine in the future. I sincerely thank everyone who stands at the origins of this.
RM/ We hope there will be more Ukrainian industrial design products in Ukrainians' homes. And the Local2Local trend will become standard for the Ukrainian industrial design market as well.
DM/ How can people abroad best support Ukraine’s design community and Ukrainians more broadly?
LT/ We are open to any friendly collaborations. Help in rebuilding the future is important to us, and we will be grateful for the knowledge, sharing experience, and the opportunity to participate in international research and events where we can build communications through design.
RM/ People abroad—and Ukrainians abroad—can support in a very simple way: by starting to buy Ukrainian products for their homes, creating distribution centers filled with Ukrainian industrial design products, and inviting leaders of Ukrainian industrial design to exhibition events to increase their audience. ◆
The inaugural DVRZ Design Days runs August 18-27, 2023. Follow along on Instagram @kyiv_dvrz_design_days!