In the depths of darkness, where the echoes of war reverberate through the streets of Kyiv, a beacon of light emerges. YOD Group, a Ukrainian design studio, has transformed spent ammunition shells into a collection of limited-edition lamps known as Downed Drone. Crafted from the remnants of the Kyiv air defence system, these lamps illuminate the indomitable spirit of a nation and are perhaps a symbolic a beacon of light in a country still embroiled in war.
The shells that are used to compose the Downed Drone collection were once instruments of destruction, employed by Ukrainian air defence forces during the fateful nights of May 4 and May 16, 2023. As the city quaked under the weight of conflict, these countermeasures of the sky stood resolute, felling enemy drones and missiles with unwavering determination. The shell casings, witness to this heroic struggle, now find new purpose in the form of elegant designer lamps.
‘When our friends from the Kyiv air-raid defence showed us empty shells, which they used to protect the city from drones, we came up with an up-cycling idea. A shell looks brutal, but it is a powerful symbol of saved lives. And a part of our history. The lamp was one of the first ideas, and the design team liked it because it symbolises the light that always wins against darkness.’ shares Volodymyr Nepyivoda, a co-founder of the YOD Group
At first glance, the Downed Drone lamps boast a brutal aesthetic. Their surfaces are finished with black and green stripes, a remnant of their camouflage past. Products often boast the unique marking of human-hand, these boast battle scars. Borne by each lamp, these are unique markings telling the story of each lamp's former life, and lend a sense of intense vulnerability to the object. The marks and dents etched into its surface are testaments to the battles waged in the night skies, lending the lamps a profound sense of history and resilience.
Topped with a circular brass head, the lamps radiate a gentle warm glow, evocative of the hope that persists even in the bleakest of times. They stand as beacons of inspiration, reminding us that amidst the chaos of war, light always finds a way to pierce through the darkness. Each lamp proudly displays a brass nameplate, adorned with a serial number from one to forty, signifying its unique place within the collection and linking it to the valorous acts that transpired.
The Downed Drone project also showcases a profound appreciation for the interconnectedness of life. The wooden boxes that house each lamp during shipping are designed with a thoughtful purpose in mind. Once the lamps reach their destinations, the boxes can be repurposed as bird boxes, providing shelter and new life to our feathered friends. In a poetic twist, these boxes represent a transformation from instruments of death and destruction to vessels of renewal - a powerful metaphor for the hope that springs forth even amidst the ravages of war.
‘We created special boxes for lamps that can be used as birdhouses. It is also a metaphor. Shells killed drones - artificial birds that aimed to bring death. So YOD Group created boxes for real birds that can bring new life, their nestlings.’ elaborates Volodymyr Nepyivoda.
Despite its strong aesthetic and symbolic appeal, the significance and purpose of the Downed Drone project extend beyond its functional and artistic roles. YOD Group has set forth a lofty goal: to support the 38th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, specifically their company of attack drones. The proceeds from the sale of these lamps are directed towards supporting the brigade. The lamps act as symbols of solidarity and practical means of support for those who lay their lives on the line for the universal cause of freedom.
In Ukraine, the spirit of collective action burns brightly. It has become a common practice for civilians to rally together, contributing what they can to aid in the nation's defence. YOD Group's Downed Drone project is the perfect exemplification of this spirit, harnessing the power of design to forge a very tangible yet ethereal connection between art, history, and the pursuit of victory. The designers themselves have committed to the cause, underscoring their unwavering dedication to supporting those fighting on the front lines.
The Downed Drone project is a reminder of the immense resilience and strength that can be found within the human spirit. From the spent shells of war, an object of beauty emerges, illuminating a path forward. They symbolise the triumph of light over darkness and remind us that collective action, fuelled by compassion and determination, can lead us to victory. The Downed Drone lamps stand as powerful symbols, urging us to find solace, inspiration, and ultimately, triumph in the face of adversity.