Created for her furniture brand Faina, the Soniah range is a homage to the country’s national flower and includes a sconce, floor and pendant lamp in different heights and sizes.
Each features a sweeping, circular shade that is tilted inquisitively towards the viewer like the flower turns towards to the sun.
The lights’ textured, whitewashed finish is created from clay that has been fortified with wood chips, straw and recycled paper to create a material that Yakusha has dubbed Ztista or ‘made of dough’.
“Based on the philosophy of live design, Faina has a strong connection to the earth and the living world around us, so we work with live and natural materials,” she told Dezeen.
“Ztista is a sustainable material that is very flexible and offers many design opportunities because it can be moulded into almost any shape.”
For the Soniah range, the material is applied to a frame of reclaimed steel in thick layers, following a traditional construction technique known as valkuvannya.
This was historically used to build the kind of clay huts that were common in much of the Ukraine and the surrounding region before stone and brick became popular at the start of the 20th century.
Unfired clay was either mixed with cut straw or layered onto walls made of woven branches and twigs before being whitewashed with a lime mixture.
“Faina collects the voices and wisdom of the centuries and tells their story to the world,” explained Yakusha.
The Soniah range is part of a wider collection called Following the Sun, which also includes a bench and coffee table made of light ash wood that take the sunflower as their leitmotif.
The collection epitomises what Yakusha describes as the brand’s “new primitivism”, which fuses indigenous knowledge, craftsmanship and materials with a modern design language.
“For me, new primitivism is to show what you see through design – without interpretations or allegories. It’s a little bit naive but very honest and sincere,” said the designer.
“New primitivism returns us to our roots and natural state. When having all the technological capabilities of the modern world, we choose to be simple and see the beauty in simple forms and materials,” she added.
Yakusha, who was a judge at this year’s Dezeen Awards, set up Faina in 2014 to champion the Ukrainian design scene and share its cultural heritage with the world.
Previously, the brand has released a chair fashioned from the same Ztista material as the Soniah lights, as well as an armchair inspired by ancient depictions of the female form.
Under the umbrella of her self-titled design studio, Yakusha also works across interiors, and her Ya Vsesvit design for a monochrome workspace was shortlisted for small workspace of the year at the 2019 Dezeen Awards.
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