Victoria Yakusha

This Kyiv-based architect combines her connection to nature with a love for the cultural heritage of her native Ukraine.

Howl 4 3 victoria header
Howl 4 3 faina gallery
FAINA Gallery
The deep black hues of clay, wood, wool and other natural materials refer to the rich, black soil of Ukraine.
Photo: Piet-Albert Goethals. Courtesy of FAINA

"Live design is about connection to our roots and our land. I translate my design through the living sustainable materials and our ecological approach to everything we do. It’s also about the respect to our heritage, traditions, history."

— Victoria Yakusha
Howl 4 3 faina collection
FAINA Collection
The newly-opened Antwerp space showcases FAINA, Yakusha’s collection of furniture, lighting and decor.
Photo: Piet-Albert Goethals. Courtesy of FAINA

Victoria Yakusha is an emerging Ukrainian designer who is making waves on the international scene with the launch of a new furniture and lighting collection available through FAINA, her showroom in Antwerp, Belgium.

Yakusha’s projects oscillate between architecture, interiors and products, and a philosophy she calls “Live Design”–which connects her to nature, ethnic roots and the cultural heritage of her native country. “Live Design is about connection to our roots and our land,” says the architect. “I translate my design through living, sustainable materials and our ecological approach to everything we do. It’s also about respect for our heritage, traditions and history.”

In 2014, Yakusha founded her design brand, FAINA, right after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, when citizens faced the question about who their people were as a nation. “I wanted to tell the world about our culture, traditions, and let everyone feel the spirit of Ukraine–its very soul.” So, she started integrating Ukrainian symbols in her work and supporting local craftspeople. Particularly interesting in the design of objects, Yakusha believes that curiosity for animism–native to her ancestors–is relevant today: “I believe in the souls of our objects, the spiritual essence of things,” she says, and eight years after the Revolution, it’s become the focus of her brand and the new gallery in Antwerp. “It’s one of the core elements of what we call Live Design–creating something that is alive. Something with a spirit.”

Yakusha first opened the FAINA showroom in Brussels in 2019, and planned to move it to a bigger space in the city center, but was still searching for the right space six months later. One day on a visit to Antwerp with her family, Yakusha came to the realization that this northern Belgian city, with a strong fashion and design tradition, should be her location. “Our gallery should be in Antwerp,” she said. “On the way home, I found a two-story space in a 500-year-old building with high ceilings in the city center–the exact one I imagined FAINA’s home to be.”

The new gallery on the picturesque Keizerstraat reveals the essence of its Live Design philosophy, where each piece is a witness to history and emanates the strong spirit of Mother Earth. Primitive and archetypal forms, Ukrainian traditional craft and sustainable materials all shape the minimalist, yet spirited design language of the brand. “All handcrafted items have a soul–their own energy,” Yakusha says. “And it happens because someone puts their emotions and their own strength into it. There’s no such thing in mass-produced objects.” She points out that, for a long time, crafts in Ukraine were dying off, and she feels a responsibility to preserve the tradition of making and passing them on. “We work with artisans from all over Ukraine and produce all FAINA objects in Ukraine,” she says. “I love this synergy of modern design and history–when you know that something was made with the same technique that our ancestors used long ago.” For example, her tapestries are hand woven on an ancient loom with the traditional Ukrainian craft ‘lizhykarstvo’ (wool weaving) technique, common only to one region in Ukraine. For their glass, they use a technique of free blowing–‘gutnytstvo’ in Ukrainian–which is more than 1000 years old. “An artisan doesn’t use molds in the process, so the shape is guided by the nature of its material,” she explains.


Her philosophy applies to how she designs interiors, too. The Istetyka Eatery in Kyiv, for example, is Yakusha’s vision of modern Ukrainian design–one that is laconic and pure, but harnesses a strong presence. The walls were finished with clay, as Ukrainians used to do in traditional homes, and furniture and decor are handcrafted by local artisans. “When I work with a space, I love to mix and juxtapose materials, textures and pieces from different times,” she says. “This is what brings a space to life for me. The space is visually clean, but very layered and warm.”

Victoria Yakusha is an emerging Ukrainian designer who is making waves on the international scene with the launch of a new furniture and lighting collection available through FAINA, her showroom in Antwerp, Belgium.

Yakusha’s projects oscillate between architecture, interiors and products, and a philosophy she calls “Live Design”–which connects her to nature, ethnic roots and the cultural heritage of her native country. “Live Design is about connection to our roots and our land,” says the architect. “I translate my design through living, sustainable materials and our ecological approach to everything we do. It’s also about respect for our heritage, traditions and history.”

In 2014, Yakusha founded her design brand, FAINA, right after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, when citizens faced the question about who their people were as a nation. “I wanted to tell the world about our culture, traditions, and let everyone feel the spirit of Ukraine–its very soul.” So, she started integrating Ukrainian symbols in her work and supporting local craftspeople. Particularly interesting in the design of objects, Yakusha believes that curiosity for animism–native to her ancestors–is relevant today: “I believe in the souls of our objects, the spiritual essence of things,” she says, and eight years after the Revolution, it’s become the focus of her brand and the new gallery in Antwerp. “It’s one of the core elements of what we call Live Design–creating something that is alive. Something with a spirit.”

Howl 4 3 faina gallery
FAINA Gallery
The deep black hues of clay, wood, wool and other natural materials refer to the rich, black soil of Ukraine.
Photo: Piet-Albert Goethals. Courtesy of FAINA

"Live design is about connection to our roots and our land. I translate my design through the living sustainable materials and our ecological approach to everything we do. It’s also about the respect to our heritage, traditions, history."

— Victoria Yakusha

Yakusha first opened the FAINA showroom in Brussels in 2019, and planned to move it to a bigger space in the city center, but was still searching for the right space six months later. One day on a visit to Antwerp with her family, Yakusha came to the realization that this northern Belgian city, with a strong fashion and design tradition, should be her location. “Our gallery should be in Antwerp,” she said. “On the way home, I found a two-story space in a 500-year-old building with high ceilings in the city center–the exact one I imagined FAINA’s home to be.”

The new gallery on the picturesque Keizerstraat reveals the essence of its Live Design philosophy, where each piece is a witness to history and emanates the strong spirit of Mother Earth. Primitive and archetypal forms, Ukrainian traditional craft and sustainable materials all shape the minimalist, yet spirited design language of the brand. “All handcrafted items have a soul–their own energy,” Yakusha says. “And it happens because someone puts their emotions and their own strength into it. There’s no such thing in mass-produced objects.” She points out that, for a long time, crafts in Ukraine were dying off, and she feels a responsibility to preserve the tradition of making and passing them on. “We work with artisans from all over Ukraine and produce all FAINA objects in Ukraine,” she says. “I love this synergy of modern design and history–when you know that something was made with the same technique that our ancestors used long ago.” For example, her tapestries are hand woven on an ancient loom with the traditional Ukrainian craft ‘lizhykarstvo’ (wool weaving) technique, common only to one region in Ukraine. For their glass, they use a technique of free blowing–‘gutnytstvo’ in Ukrainian–which is more than 1000 years old. “An artisan doesn’t use molds in the process, so the shape is guided by the nature of its material,” she explains.


Her philosophy applies to how she designs interiors, too. The Istetyka Eatery in Kyiv, for example, is Yakusha’s vision of modern Ukrainian design–one that is laconic and pure, but harnesses a strong presence. The walls were finished with clay, as Ukrainians used to do in traditional homes, and furniture and decor are handcrafted by local artisans. “When I work with a space, I love to mix and juxtapose materials, textures and pieces from different times,” she says. “This is what brings a space to life for me. The space is visually clean, but very layered and warm.”

Howl 4 3 faina collection
FAINA Collection
The newly-opened Antwerp space showcases FAINA, Yakusha’s collection of furniture, lighting and decor.
Photo: Piet-Albert Goethals. Courtesy of FAINA