Churina Design: Rebranding and relocation, a new start abroad

Difficult times sometimes encourage not only development in its linear sense, but also metamorphoses. People, philosophies, approaches change - therefore, entire companies can change as well. This is exactly what happened to the Ukrainian design studio TABOORET, which was founded 13 years ago by Kateryna Churina. The Russian invasion on February 24, 2022 prompted the designer to rethink her own activities, and therefore - a large-scale rebranding, as a result of which her company now has an updated work format, expanded service areas and geography, as well as a new name - Churina Design. As part of the special project "Business Diaspora: Stories of Ukrainian Expansion", we spoke with Kateryna Churyna about relocation to another country, wartime insights and prospective work directions.

TABOORET was founded in 2009. 13 years of work and continuous development from the day of opening to the beginning of a full-scale invasion contained many projects, stages of development, awards and honors. The company did not stop working either during the years of economic and political upheavals or during the quarantine. But with the beginning of the great war in February 2022, Kateryna and her team were forced to leave their office in the center of Kyiv.

Kateryna Churina, designer, founder of TABOORET and Churina Design companies

Currently, Kateryna Churina lives in Spain, and the team members work remotely from various cities to which they have traveled. One and a half years have passed since the full-scale war began. And during this time, Kateryna managed to completely rethink her professional activity.

"The beginning of a full-scale war caught me at the point of career apogee" - Kateryna Churina

"Over the past 3 years, my studio has received many awards in prestigious competitions. This was preceded by a huge long-term work lasting 10 years. I opened my dream furniture showroom, assembled a friendly team. Our beautiful office in Kyiv, in which we invested all our soul and budget, was the pinnacle of my dreams. We planned to stay there for at least 5 years. I have been waiting for this moment all my conscious life. But I didn't have time to enjoy it," recalls Kateryna Churina.

Office of the TABOORET team (now Churina Design), Kyiv, Ukraine

Relocation and a new beginning

Like many other business owners and entrepreneurs, in the first months of the war, Kateryna Churina tried to move the entire team to Spain in order to continue working "centrally" there. But during the war, of course, family comes first for everyone, not work. So currently, most of the team lives with their families in different European cities. Some stayed in Kyiv. However, the furniture showroom and Kyiv office of TABOORET were closed. Kateryna took everything that was there to Valencia.

"Here I now have a large warehouse with life packed in boxes," says Kateryna Churina

Kateryna also shares that due to the constant work race that her studio lived in before the full-scale invasion, she was unable to fully realize the full value of the professional victories and achievements of that time. And only the forced pause caused by the war and relocation allowed Kateryna to evaluate the results of her own efforts over so many years.

Kateryna Churina's office in the Kyiv office of TABOORET (now Churina Design), Kyiv, Ukraine. In the photo: a Muuto pendant lamp, a Vasiliy Butenko table lamp, an IKEA office chair, a painting by Ivan Verho

"For the first six months, I saved everything I had. In addition to everything that was happening around me, I was pregnant for the second time. Then there was enough time to think things through. I put everything on hold and decided that TABOORET should stay at this wonderful stage that we have reached. It turned out a beautiful story lasting 13 years. With its beginning, climax, denouement and dramatic end. I wanted to leave TABOORET in my memory, our friends and partners exactly as it was. I didn't want to change it. This is my child, to whom I have devoted my entire conscious life, and of whom I am very proud.

"I wanted to leave TABOORET in memory as it was. I didn't want to change it. This is my child, to whom I have devoted my entire conscious life, and of whom I am very proud" - Kateryna Churina

Office of the TABOORET team (now Churina Design), Kyiv, Ukraine. In the photo – Woodwerk table, LOVKO chairs, &Tradition pendant lights, Muuto tray on the table

Having completed this period of my life, I plunged headlong into the search for new areas of work, larger projects and the development of a new design studio format under a new name. Then there was enough time to think things through. So I made a new plan of actions and goals. What projects and under what conditions do I want to work? How I see the new format of the team "without borders" and salary funds", says Kateryna.

From the moment of the move, it took a little more than six months to create a new business structure. Kateryna had many "reserve" trainings that she did not dare to implement earlier. There were dreams saved for later. Now, having put everything together, Kateryna finally got a new format of the studio and expanded the directions of future work. The designer also worked on the development of strategies that would ultimately enable her to realize her idea from a blank slate.

In the photo: a Liberta mirror, a Jysk table, a Jysk chair upholstered in Nami Italian textiles

"Having developed a new format of the studio, changed the target audience and chosen slightly different accents in the work, it was appropriate to release the project under a new brand. I am glad that I decided on this" - Kateryna Churina

"Having developed a new format of the studio, changed the target audience and chosen slightly different accents in the work, it was appropriate to release the project under a new brand. I'm glad I decided on it. After all, those who have their own business for many years know exactly how difficult it is to change something in it. All the more so to turn your ship around 180 degrees, - says Kateryna. – On September 09.09.2022, 13, my studio turned XNUMX years old, and on the same day my second daughter Maya was born. I think it would be unfair to share this date between them in the future. Therefore, I finally said goodbye to the TABOORET brand, giving a new beginning to the Churina Design studio."

New name, new strategy, new honors

It is worth noting that Kateryna Churina's projects won and continue to win awards of various scales every year - both in Ukraine and abroad. As the founder of the studio admits, behind each such statuette are years of hard work.

L'Oreal Academy, project of TABOORET studio (now Churina Design), Kyiv, Ukraine

However, such achievements at the stage of formation of Kateryna's "newborn" project became not only a confirmation of her professional skill, but also a tool in building the image of the newly created company in an unfamiliar environment.

"In your native country, there is always word of mouth and many people who are ready to confirm your expertise. Winning victories at Ukrainian design competitions is cool, but, unfortunately, only in Ukraine. And in other European countries, it is important to support your experience and knowledge with new international evidence. Therefore, after moving to Spain, I created a minimal plan for the development of my positioning in the European market. My team and I have compiled a huge list of international competitions in which we would like to participate," says Kateryna.

Kateryna Churina, designer, founder of TABOORET and Churina Design companies

For example, the Buzyna chest of drawers, designed by Kateryna Churina, received a bronze medal in the "Interior furniture" category at the 16th International Design Awards 2022. Another six works were recognized by the jury with a special award. Also, the Churina Design company became the only nominee from Ukraine recognized by the jury members of this year's SIT Furniture Design Award. The victory was won by four projects at once - the TABOORET office, the L'Oreal office and training academy, and the project of the first floor of the Airstone House country house.

"In European countries, it is important to reinforce your experience and knowledge with new international evidence - that's why my team and I have compiled a huge list of international competitions that should be applied for when resuming work" - Kateryna Churina

Kateryna says that submitting to such prestigious competitions was preceded by a funny story, which ultimately instilled faith in the designer in her own strength and encouraged her to take on this challenge.

"In 2019, we submitted the office project of the Institute of Cognitive Modeling to IDA. Then one of the assistants did it. The work was sent, but the results were not tracked. And just last year, when I was going to apply for this competition again, I went to my personal account and saw that I already had a silver IDA award in the Public Spaces category. At that moment there were very mixed feelings of joy and despair. That is, I received the IDA award back in 2019, but I simply did not know about it. I thought that with new projects I definitely have a chance. That's how it happened," the designer shares. - I believe that such awards are a great and very revealing opportunity for designers to adequately present the level of Ukrainian design to the world community, thereby gaining recognition not only for themselves, but also for Ukraine as a whole with their work."

Buzyna chest of drawers, designed by designer Kateryna Churina. The project was awarded bronze in the "Interior furniture" category at the International Design Awards 2022

However, the awards are not the only ones. In parallel with winning in international competitions, Kateryna worked on an updated development strategy of Churina Design. To our question, how difficult it was to "build up" the activities of the newly created design studio abroad, the designer answered as follows:

"In principle, it is as difficult as doing it in Ukraine without experience and connections. But I love challenging challenges. For me, it's like a new quest, in which there are many stages to complete to achieve big goals. Such a gamification.

ICM office, Kyiv, Ukraine. The project was developed by the TABOORET studio (now Churina Design) and was awarded a silver award at the International Design Awards 2019

Our main focus is now on investment properties and development - creating charming villas for sale. Of course, we have to look for many new partners and contractors. In the process, you notice many nuances in cultural differences, you have to understand a lot about the intricacies of communication. Here, first of all, networking is necessary: ​​if local people recommend you, then half the work is done. By the way, I can say with confidence that all stereotypes about the slowness and carelessness of Spaniards are not true. Construction here goes very fast if you know the right people and have a good approach to them.

In Spain, we joined the forces of Churina Design and the development company Foreman Development in order to be even more efficient and to fully demonstrate the possibilities of Ukrainian design, construction and organization on the construction site. We are determined to show the best results and share photos of the finished objects soon."

Plans and perspectives

Currently, the Churina Design team is completing the last project in Ukraine, received by them before the full-scale invasion under the name TABOORET. Kateryna notes that the number of applications for the development of new projects has decreased, however, they continue to arrive.

"I believe that a well-designed interior creates a sense of security and comfort for its owner. This is especially important during the war" - Kateryna Churina

"I believe that a well-designed interior creates a sense of security and comfort for its owner. This is especially important in times of war. The interior is your environment, your stability, your separate world. If there is an opportunity to create comfort around yourself and your family, then you should do it, - reflects Kateryna. - The main thing here is not to go headfirst into a whirlpool, thinking about capital construction.

Supreta furniture showroom, Kyiv, Ukraine

It seems to me that it would be appropriate to start active construction of new institutions, residential complexes and public spaces in Ukraine when the situation begins to stabilize or when shelling from Russia stops completely. In the west of Ukraine, there is an active development of places that were not so popular before. And that's great. I think that such an example will be followed by other regions in the future. This will help develop different parts of the country and attract more tourists in the future."

While in Spain, Kateryna sees it as her duty to introduce people to all the beautiful things that Ukraine has to offer. The designer notes that the locals in Valencia are not familiar with the history and richness of Ukrainian culture, so even with a fresh studio project in hand, which is only developing and "picking up pace", she allocates time to organize events dedicated to Ukrainian creativity and design.


L'Oreal office, Kyiv, Ukraine. The project was developed by the TABOORET studio (now – Churina Design)

So, for example, together with photographer Iryna Cheremisina and a local charitable foundation, Kateryna decided to create a project that would help the Spanish and Ukrainian people learn more about each other's culture and design. According to the plan, it should be a photo exhibition in Valencia in the fall. It will be called "Touch of cultures: Ukraine and Spain in still lifes".

"The purpose of this exhibition is to emphasize the uniqueness and at the same time show the similarities of two cultures through everyday objects. For this purpose, we have collected a whole collection of traditional objects that people have used in everyday life for centuries. Among them there are also ancient objects, and there are also those that are still used, - shares Kateryna. - For me personally, this project has already become something more than just a photo exhibition. After all, in the process I learned a lot about the life and history of the Spaniards, rediscovered the beauty of Ukrainian pottery and other crafts."

Kateryna Churina, designer, founder of TABOORET and Churina Design companies

Kateryna answers questions about the future development prospects of Churina Design and her immediate plans ambitiously, and at the same time structurally and with palpable optimism.

"The main priority remains unchanged — to bring beauty and comfort to people's lives, and thereby make them happy. At Churina Design, we continue to create interiors in Scandinavian style and minimalism, or as it is now called, Japandi style. More commercial projects are currently in the works. One of them is a hotel in the north of Spain in a mountainous area. By creating turnkey investment projects, I show people how the space can look not according to their specifications, but in my vision, - says Kateryna Churina. - In addition to creating interiors, I also cannot leave my favorite furniture design. However, I singled out for myself only the stage of project creation, and I am ready to delegate production to factories and factories.

For me, there are no geographical restrictions, because today you can communicate via video link from anywhere in the world or go to an object on the other side of the planet. Limitations are only in our heads."