“As consumers, our purchases are often ruled by immediacy,” says Danielle McEwan, the founder of Byron Bay’s much-loved homewares and furniture emporium, Tigmi Trading. “To some, a lead time of 18–22 weeks may seem excessive, but we think it’s worth it — great design lasts a lifetime.” It’s a wait customers will have to be prepared for when it comes to FAINA, a Ukrainian brand of contemporary furniture, lighting and objects that releases collections only twice a year.
Helmed by designer, architect and Yakusha Design Studio founder, Victoria Yakusha, the company can’t rush the process as each piece is handmade. Yakusha explains that her creative cultural heritage is at the very heart of FAINA. “We are honoured to collaborate with artisans [from] all over… for some, their skills are a family tradition passed down, which is even more precious,” she says.
Yakusha is deeply committed to the preservation of endangered indigenous crafts and natural resources, and has hosted numerous “Design Expeditions”, travelling to remote villages throughout the Ukraine to showcase specialty makers — ceramicists, coopers and weavers who have limited contact with the modern world. The spirit of these masters is in FAINA’s DNA. “All our items are handcrafted and have a special energy that comes from the heart, passed down from one person to the next,” Yakusha says. It’s based on a concept she calls “live design”: the idea that there is an inherent energy and soul within her clean, minimalist designs.
FAINA reinterprets millennia-old artistry for the present, using wood, wool, ceramics and recycled paper in a range of vases, cabinets, pendants, benches and coffee tables. “This symbiosis of modern and ancient is very natural to our practice,” Yakusha says. Some pieces echo literal forms, such as the Hata vases shaped like traditional thatched-roofed houses or the Bandura vases that take inspiration from an old Ukrainian folk instrument. The distinctive silhouettes of sofas and chairs are expressions of “soft geometry”, Yakusha says, a combination of restrained, sculptural and bulbous shapes. She has also invented an entirely new sustainable material with a dimpled, dough like effect made from recycled paper, cellulose, linen, clay, wood chips and straw. FAINA sticks to an organic palette in the colours of the land: bone, charcoal, olive, rust, dust.
When Yakusha started her multidisciplinary studio, in 2006, it was on the back of strong sociocultural change in Eastern Europe. She launched FAINA in 2014 and is now considered a pioneer for her contribution to Ukrainian design. Stocked everywhere from Milan to New York, FAINA has found its perfect partner in Australia’s Tigmi Trading. “It’s more like a home than a showroom,” McEwan says of Tigmi Studio in Byron Bay. “We try to create an environment that is inviting, warm and unique. The story of FAINA deeply resonated with us from their preservation of time-honoured skills to their commitment towards sustainable and lasting design.”