by Jincy IypeJan 09, 2023
Multidisciplinary studio Yakusha Design, headed by Ukraine-born architect Victoria Yakusha, defines its signature sense of style as 'live minimalism' - where connections to nature are channelled through the lens of a 'less is more' approach. This premise is apparent in their design for a modern eatery in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, where a laconic interior scheme employs textural contrasts to induce an atmosphere of tranquility. Named 'Istetyka' - a portmanteau of the Ukrainian words for 'eating' and 'aesthetics,' the theme of the eatery aims to make people rethink their attitude towards ready-to-eat food, transforming the mundane into the memorable, as per the wishes of the owners.
A series of wooden stairs lead up to the entrance, featuring a diminutively-sized painting of bread that reflects the restaurant design's treatment of food as a work of art. The staircase is enclosed between walls of unprocessed concrete and soft dimpled clay. “Each of our projects tells a story. We combine modern materials and techniques with long-known ideas, passed down from generation to generation. Clay walls, according to Ukrainian tradition, have a very powerful energy,” mentions Victoria Yakusha, who was on the jury panel for the Dezeen Awards in 2020.
In the studio's view, the seemingly simple, everyday essence of this space is reflective of the innate value in the daily life routines. Functionally, the entire floor area - featuring a matte white finish - is segregated into three zones, the first of which consists of a minimalist stone counter for orders, extending into an elegantly framed glass display. A toned glass partition separates the kitchen from the seating spaces.
Adjacent to this is a space that features fluid, upholstered group seating around the studio's Ztista tables from their own 'FAINA' furniture brand. The tables are designed with a circular wood finished top, supported by a cylindrical base made of ztista - a uniquely developed sustainable material by FAINA, consisting of a mixture of flax rubber, wood chips, recycled paper, and clay, covered by a biopolymer.
As a living mass that embodies the studio's adherence to 'live design’, ztista in Ukrainian means 'made of dough’. The table's base is created using an ancient technique passed down in Ukrainian traditions, known as valkyvannia, once used to construct the walls of dwellings. Now adapted to create many of the brand's most acclaimed furniture designs, the method consists of applying the living blend of ztista to a frame of recycled steel by hand, where minute imperfections from the action of touch impart a “silhouette of living irregularities” to the finished product. By virtue of being handmade in this manner by master artisans, the textured surface of each piece is entirely unique.
Overhanging lamps of artisanal macrame, alongside the centrepieces from FAINA's Kumanec collection of ceramic vases, lend a homely charm to Istetyka’s interior design. The succeeding zone comprises two-seater tables in concrete and cubical poufs made of recycled plastic, in a perception-defying play of texture that complements the otherwise restrained palette.
Rounded steel sconces are spaced along the walls as lighting design elements at regular intervals. After sunset, their light combines with that of the macrame lamps to flood the space with a soothing aura. The balance between organic and geometric elements under the constraints of a near monochrome colour palette in the hospitality design scheme was given special heed by the designers, with the sharp edges of counters and poufs softened by the curves of the seating, tables, centrepieces, and lighting elements. Furthermore, the warmth of the textured clay acts as a counterpoint to the coolness of the concrete furnishings and ceilings, while burnished stainless steel elements contrast the textured ztista surfaces.
It can be said that Istetyka is a definitive example of how understatement and restraint in a design intervention can yield results that are far beyond the sum of their individual parts. As Yakusha states, “You don't have to make something big to make it noticed. Here, we focused on the essence. To emphasise it, we created a lot of air, enhancing the power of the void. Freedom allows us to see what's important.”
Location: Kiev, Ukraine
Area: 127 sqm
Interior Design: Yakusha Design
Head of Design Team: Victoria Yakusha
Furniture Details: Ztista tables by FAINA collection of live design, KUMANEC vases