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'SKARB' by Victoria Yakusha poses the question: Can a treasure truly be stolen?
SKARB by Victoria Yakusha at Alcova Milano 2024
Image: © Denis Kashkovsky

'SKARB' by Victoria Yakusha poses the question: Can a treasure truly be stolen?

The artist's showcase seeks to highlight the essence of treasure through her artefacts reflecting Ukrainian identity, at the Alcova design district, Milan Design Week 2024.

by STIRpad
Published on : Apr 20, 2024

Ukrainian artist, heritage architect and product designer Victoria Yakusha is exhibiting curious artefacts at Alcova Milano 2024. While Yakusha’s previous exhibition CONTINUUM curated for Milan Design Week 2023 combined time and space to intersect the past, present and future, this year’s showcase titled SKARB (Ukrainian for 'treasure'), confronts visitors with a fundamental question: 'Can a treasure truly be stolen?'

According to the artist and furniture designer, Ukraine has housed over 1,00,000 ancient mounds in the early 20th century, the remnants of numerous European nations including Trypillians, Scythians, Cimmerians, Sarmatians, and Antes. But today, under Russian control, these once-sacred sites are witnessing looting and destruction in what is described as ‘one of the largest art heists since World War II.' SKARB represents the struggle to protect these treasures emerging from the Trypillian civilisation to the Ukrainian Cossacks and narrates Ukraine’s enduring spirit through product designs.

On view from April 15 - 20, 2024, at Villa Bagatti Valsecchi in Milan, Italy, the design exhibition features the Tiara Collection Vases crafted in Ukraine's clay and embellished with blue-beige polychrome topazes from Volyn. Their contoured surfaces and uniform curves portray the relic of the Huns, a stolen royal tiara encrusted with precious stones from Ukraine during the 4th and 5th centuries. Imbued with Yakusha’s 'living minimalism,' the vases displayed at the design week serve as a reminder that although treasures may be looted, their essence persists.

Inspired by the iconic Cossack gull boats that once traversed Ukraine's rivers, the Korotun Coffee Table is an embodiment of the cultural heritage realised through a minimalist design. The table design also pays tribute to the legacy of the Cossack warriors with its robust structure moulded in ceramic clay and ash wood. The two bouldered clay legs hold the wooden tabletop, giving it a striking form.

The Domna Armchair draws inspiration from the Trypillian Venus, who was worshipped as a paragon of life and abundance by the Trypillians. The figurine epitomised femininity and fertility in the ancient Trypillian civilisation which is symbolised in the armchair’s precise design, imitating graceful curves and intricate details. With the use of new fabrics from Misia, the chair design seamlessly blends modernity with history.

SKARB intends to bridge the gap between the past, present, and future through its artistic expression, and translate the concept of cultural resilience into tangible artworks and furniture designs. The deeply personal and emotive nature of the exhibit's theme at the design event holds relevance amid the turmoil faced by Ukraine. SKARB honours the country’s cultural resilience and provides a platform for reflection, dialogue, and solidarity in the face of adversity. “A treasure is something that can be stolen but cannot be taken away… A treasure is something you can hide and pass on to future generations, speaking to them in a language they will understand in millennia to come,” Yakusha conveys.

'SKARB' by Victoria Yakusha is on view from April 15 - 20, 2024, at Alcova Milano 2024, Villa Bagatti Valsecchi, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 48, 20814 Varedo MB, Italy.

(Text by Simran Gandhi, intern at STIR)

Stay tuned to STIR's coverage of Milan Design Week 2024 which showcases the best of exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands and events to look out for. Explore EuroCucina and all the design districts—Fuorisalone, 5vie Design Week, Isola Design Week, Brera Design District and Porta Venezia Design District.

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