In quarantine, but not in sadness. Architects and designers about remote work. Part 2

Ukrainians will have to endure at least three more weeks of isolation. Experts predict that it will be much longer. Meanwhile, PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA continues to (virtually) visit the homes of architects and designers to find out how they cope with the remote work format and the accompanying challenges.

The second part of the article features Serhiy Makhno, Yova Yager, Oleksandr Popov, Anna Manako, Roman Romanets, and Olena Fateyeva.

The first and third parts:

In quarantine, but not in sadness. Architects and designers about remote work. Part 1

In quarantine, but not in sadness. Architects and designers about remote work. Part 3


Serhiy Makhno

Architect, Sergey Makhno Architects

Kyiv, Ukraine

Serhiy Makhno

Do you follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health: wash your hands and disinfect surfaces, do not leave the house and do not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary, do not use public transport, do not meet with friends and relatives?

Of course I do. I am a son, I am a father, I care about the health of my family. I believe that nowadays anyone can become a superhero by just staying at home.

My wife, sons, and I have quarantined ourselves and limited our communication with other relatives and our friends. We regularly clean the house, ventilate all the rooms, and hardly ever leave the city. Unless I have a meeting that cannot be transferred online.

As for the work of Sergey Makhno Architects, we were among the first to go into quarantine. On Friday, March 13, we announced to the team that we would not be going to the office starting next week. Most companies made this decision over the weekend.

I believe that now we, the young, the active, the ones with the most social contacts, are most responsible for the health and lives of our parents, the parents of our friends, our colleagues. And so I ask everyone to stay at home as well, with respect for older people for whom this virus may not be so easy.

Bloomberg writes that for many, working from home has resulted in an extra hour or two of work per day (US and Western Europe). Is this about you?

If a few hours of working time were added, it was only in the first week, when the team was still adapting to the new format of project management, virtual communication, and unusual workplace conditions. Because our brains are set to rest at home. And it was forced to work, it doesn't understand, it gives Error. And in order to get used to working productively in new conditions, it takes time for new neural connections to be built. But people get used to everything, and we have already adjusted. Moreover, it is reassuring and encouraging to know that we have projects to work with, because the market situation is difficult now.

It is very difficult for me without a ceramic workshop and working with my hands. That's why I still go to an empty workshop from time to time to make something. And most of all, I miss the emotional connection with the team. Because I am sure, and I realized this long before the coronavirus, that emotional intelligence and emotional contact will not replace any robotic systems that will work smoothly, efficiently, perfectly, and so on. So yes, I miss people quite a bit. But in terms of workflow, I can say that everything is going well.

What does your workplace look like? Have you arranged it in any way to allow you to work from home for a long time?

I arranged a workplace in my bedroom when I was still designing the house. There is a low table and a stool, a view of the garden, and I most often paint here in the morning. But I immediately realized that if I need to work "seriously," I move to the open dining room area and sit at the large dining table. I feel very cozy, productive and cool there. In general, even before the quarantine, I controlled all work processes from my phone and conducted negotiations with my team, contractors, and clients in this way. So nothing much has changed for me.

However, if we talk about permanent work at home, I think that nowadays homes all over the world are actually undergoing crash tests. And most of them, unfortunately, will not pass. Because most were designed and built for the task of "coming to spend the night." People didn't need a range of entertainment in their homes, and the functionality of certain things was ignored, etc. Now the situation will change with regard to the layout of the entire home, and much attention will be focused on the workplace, the office at home.

Serhiy Makhno's workplace in his home

How has the quarantine affected your work? Has construction work stopped, do you travel to construction sites, have you received fewer orders? Has the nature of your work changed?

In fact, all of the above together. Most of the projects have continued their work - everything is going according to plan. There are a few frozen projects, for example, one of the Kyiv residential complexes simply does not allow furniture makers to enter the construction site due to quarantine. And this is normal. We go on site supervision, but somewhat less often.

Personally, we had fewer orders in the first two weeks of quarantine. People are now in limbo, they don't know what will happen next, so they are postponing expensive and long-term expenses. However, since the end of the second week of quarantine, interest has been slowly returning. People have realized that this is for a long time. And now is almost the perfect time for the first stage - creating a design project. We can meet with clients in Zoom, exchange ideas, references, discuss visualizations - all this can be done online. We only need to go out once to measure an empty apartment. But the client has more time to think about their future object.

Life goes on. Yes, perhaps not the most turbulent period, not the "high season" for our product, but that's okay. The only thing that really upsets me is that several large, powerful clients to whom we have provided services have now frozen payments due to the crisis. It is really unpleasant.

Serhiy Makhno's workplace in his home

What problems do you face when working from home and how do you solve them?

As I said, it's a lack of emotional contact. And this problem cannot be solved. You have to not only wait it out, but overcome your sadness and direct your free energy to yourself. This time will become a marker of inner strength - not everyone will be able to endure such a long emotional and intellectual alienation. There will be those who simply will not be able to adapt to the new conditions and join life after quarantine. There will also be those who will simply spend this time at home watching TV and will become almost outsiders. Others will become stronger during this time, acquire new skills, gain new knowledge, etc.

Did you have to learn new tools for communication and planning?

Zoom was an eye-opener for us. Previously, we used to communicate with our foreign clients via WhatsApp and Skype. But Zoom is cool, I really like it, it allows you to contact many subscribers at the same time. That's how we keep in touch, we call each other, we still use messengers. With clients, everything is basically the same as it was before, except for face-to-face meetings.

We have been thinking about several online project management systems for a long time. Now it's time to test these programs. However, we have not yet settled on a specific solution.

Serhiy Makhno's workplace in his home

Has the current situation inspired you to come up with new ideas in design and architecture that will become a new reality in the future?

Yes, I have thought about this topic and realized a few real changes that are coming to our homes and our priorities. The demand for private homes will increase - to be as autonomous from the world as possible and to have somewhere to go for a walk other than a cluttered balcony. People will pay more attention to landscaping their homes - we are talking about phytowalls, indoor gardens, and orchards.

The comfort of the workplace will become important after the experience when most people were not ready. I am sure that people will change their minds towards the autonomy of their homes and their readiness for anything. Those who can afford it will start building bunkers with autonomous heating, water supply, food storage, underground vegetable gardens, etc.

How do you deal with distractions? Children, the refrigerator?

I don't fight it, I accept it. I have three children, only the eldest is an adult who has no problems with this isolation. And two small boys in the house next to you 24/7 is, of course, still hardcore. What saves us is that we now live in a private house, there is a yard, fresh air, where we can walk and the boys can go for a walk. I think that if we were still living in our Kyiv apartment, my dad would go crazy. So we all need patience.

Open dining area in the house of Serhiy Makhno

How did you use your free time, if you had any? What do you do, how do you fight boredom in isolation?

My work has remained almost unchanged. My family and kids are at home, so I don't have any extra or even free time with them. And I'm not a party animal anymore - staying at home, tending to my Japanese-Ukrainian garden, drawing, watching and reading about architecture, Japanese culture, tea parties, ceramics - this is my usual favorite way of life. However, I've gained a little more opportunity for self-education. As I said, this crisis will show what we are really worth.

My struggle with sadness is the same as if I were unloading myself from an excess of social contacts. I love walking in the garden to the pond, redecorating the street ceramic decor and working in the garden. In quarantine, I am saved by all the eternal things I did before.


Joba Jager

Designer, Yova Yager Hospitality Design

Irpin, Kyiv region, Ukraine

Joba Jager

Do you follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health - wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, do not leave the house and do not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary, do not use public transport, do not meet with friends and relatives?

All of them - yes. Every two days I go for a walk in the woods. I also go shopping in a mask and gloves. But this is for the near future. It's hard to say how it will be in a week. I am worried that the economic crisis will be followed by an environmental crisis, because the amount of disposable packaging, gloves, clothes, and other things around the world has increased many times over. Nobody thinks about what to do about it and how it will affect the environment and people. And it will. So it seems to me that we will move from one state of survival to another.

I live in Irpin, but in an ordinary multi-storey building. If necessary, I travel by my own car without contacting anyone. I call/write my family every day. We do not see each other. But somehow my father still manages to go for a walk in the fresh air and to the store, and he refuses to help me with groceries. He says he takes precautions - he wears a mask and gloves. It's hard to convince her to take it more seriously. My mother, on the other hand, is all about responsibility: she said she even eats less to avoid going grocery shopping. She sterilizes everything, washes and irons masks, and has several types of gloves and clothes for the street.

How has quarantine affected your work?

The quarantine hasn't affected me at all. I've had a virtual studio for a long time, and I work with freelancers from home. Therefore, the processes and mechanisms themselves have not changed. As long as the work projects are not stopped, there is no less work, but that was before the quarantine was announced for another month. At the same time, I work only with the hospitality industry, and restaurants are suffering a lot right now, many of them will not even reopen.

What are the biggest problems you face in isolation and how do you solve them?

It has always been difficult to supervise remotely. Firstly, it takes more time, and secondly, it is difficult to choose the color of the walls or the texture of the wood from a photo from a mobile phone with different lighting. Everything is very relative. Telephone conversations have become more time-consuming. And it's tiring. So I decided that I would organize such negotiations the way I used to organize my trips to meetings: on certain days of the week non-stop. This helps to distribute the workload and avoid overwork.

Jova Yager's workplace

Did you have to introduce new tools for communication and planning?

Everything is the same as before. With workers and contractors, I use Viber groups (for some reason they like it, although for me it's an outdated model for communicating with a lot of advertising). With freelancers, I use Telegram and Facebook Messenger. The messenger is convenient because you can make changes immediately to the picture sent to you without saving it to your phone or iPad.

I switched to working on an iPad a long time ago because of my constant traveling and business trips. And now I can't imagine a comfortable life without it. A few handy apps for a designer are Procreate (sketches and edits in the drawing), Bazart (collages), Keynote (presentations), Google Drive (all information circulation and storage). I use the computer to plan and write texts.

For personal planning, I always use Calendar and MinimaList, then Google Calendar for my workgroup, and Google Drive again. In general, I don't understand how others work without it. This is an extremely convenient service and access to all the material 24/7. But first, you have to spend time and create your own convenient structure for archiving and maintaining materials. I have all my projects there now. The customer, foreman, manufacturer, etc. have access to them.

What about video calls?

I don't really like video calls. I've long been used to doing without them. Even to pitch new projects. Therefore, for group calls, I use whatever is at hand: either Facebook Messenger or Viber. Although I downloaded Zoom just in case. I turned off WhatsApp because you need to look for a more buggy program. Or I have a special karmic connection with it. I communicate with customers on Telegram, Instagram, and Facebook.

Has the current situation inspired you to come up with new ideas for design and architecture that will become a new reality in the future?

I haven't had time for that yet. So far, my schedule hasn't changed, and the time I used to spend on meetings has turned into calls that last longer than usual. So I'm trying to find a system for these calls as well, so as not to get bogged down in them completely. By the way, we were going to launch an author's program with Skvot in May called "Virtual Design Studio. How to create and develop it". We planned to do it in the summer of 2019, but even with this urgency, we had to postpone the launch because the amount of content is now off the charts.

How do you deal with distractions while working from home (children, relatives, refrigerator, etc.)?

I don't have any problems with it at all, because I've worked from home before. And I am comfortable with this mode. I am generally comfortable with myself. Somehow, I didn't see my husband in the apartment much more often. Everyone has their own conditional individual space and regime. If the isolation was not forced and did not cause a huge economic crisis, I could easily spend at least a week or two in self-isolation without stress and howling. But when you are forbidden to do something, you are tempted to violate or protest.

What do you do in your leisure time? How do you deal with the sadness of self-isolation?

What? "Sadness"? I don't even know what it's like since I was a kid. There's always a list of things to do that I don't get around to. And for me, it is regularly updated, and therefore never ends. You can play Zemfira's song "Infinity" here. That is, if I'm not deliberately lying on the beach like a languid seal, I always have something to do. I love being alone. I am very comfortable with myself.

How did you use the extra free time (if you had it)?

I have less free time. Again, it's because of phone calls with everyone. But maybe it's just my imagination, because sales managers have started calling less, and the time I used to spend on the road is now spent on negotiations. Most likely, it's just as time-consuming as it was before - that is, it's tight, but psychologically it seems like you're drowning.

I still haven't had time to clean the whole apartment, to rethink my existence in the current situation, because if you don't read social media and don't panic, then nothing much has changed for me in terms of workflow and management. I've been practicing fitness training with a trainer on Viber for a long time, and I'm learning English there as well. In general, my psychological salvation is a lot of work and a well-deserved vacation for one month every year.


Oleksandr Popov

Architect, archimatika

Kyiv, Ukraine

Oleksandr Popov

Do you follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health to wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, stay indoors and not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary?

I wash my hands and don't go out unless I have to. But the need arises every half hour. As a result, I spend an average of only half a day at home. The worst is with the mask. It's unusual, uncomfortable, my glasses fog up, and I'm reminded of the moment in the movie Kin-dza-dza! when all the patsaks were told that they had to wear muzzles. The mask causes an internal protest, so I wear it more to reassure others when its absence causes slanting glances.

Have you switched to working from home?

Half of the time, yes, but we need to meet, and some conversations are difficult to transfer online. At the same time, the house has become not only an office, but also a kindergarten, a school, a ballet class, and a chess section. Such multifunctionality still allows, of course, to continue working there, but not to solve creative tasks. But an empty office, if you still manage to get there by taxi, is an absolutely peaceful environment for creativity.

Bloomberg writes that working from home has resulted in an extra hour or two of work per day for many (US and Western Europe). Is this about you?

To be honest, I started sleeping more. The time I used to spend taking my children to kindergarten and school and then getting to work, I now spend sleeping. I start working at the same time as before the quarantine, but only after I have had a good night's sleep.

What does your workplace look like?

Just like in the photo. We share it with Alyona (3 years old), and sometimes Misha (11 years old) comes over. It is a common space where everyone helps each other. The children can draw what they see fit on my sketches. We consult and discuss projects. Olya (Oleksandr's wife, architect Olha Chernova - ed.) and I also discuss and finish the children's drawings.

Alexander Popov's workplace at home

How has the quarantine affected your work? Have projects stopped, construction frozen?

We are grateful to our customers for not jumping the gun and making superficial conclusions. We are pleased that our customers, like us, have accumulated some stocks during the relatively prosperous previous years. This allows us to at least not make decisions hastily, without complete information, but to wait and see how the situation changes. After all, no one can yet answer the main question: when this quarantine will end. And a lot depends on this answer. Without it, we can only guess how the quarantine will affect our entire industry and life in general.

Of course, we can already say that some of the project implementation deadlines will be extended. After all, it is very difficult to work remotely as efficiently as in one open space. Although, of course, we are doing our best. For hot projects where our customers have asked us not to move the deadlines, we compensate for the difficulties of the distance with our heroism and ingenuity.

What are the biggest challenges you face when working from home and how do you solve them?

How to share the same space with children is the most serious challenge that Olya and I have faced.

Have you found a solution yet?

To negotiate and make friends.

How do you deal with distractions?

It's not a matter of distraction. Concentration is a habit developed over the years. The most important factor that you really need to fight is panic. If you are faced with some important life question that has no answer, you need to gather your courage, understand what needs to be dealt with, gather the necessary days off, and return to this question when the picture is clear.

This is what design and architecture teach. Every architect understands that without enough initial data, making a project is a lottery. Every architect finds out everything before starting to design. Each of us is used to doing this. This is boring work, which then opens up space for creativity. No matter how much we want to do something quickly and run somewhere, until we know where to go, we have to stand still. And this requires courage.

Did you have to introduce new tools for communication and planning in your work?

In fact, we have been using all these tools for a long time, as we work with customers and partners in other countries. In general, we are used to working remotely.

Has the current situation inspired new ideas of architecture that will become a new reality in the future?

I think it's too early to talk about serious insights. We are still fussing more and more, rebuilding our work in a new format, thinking about how to support and not lose the projects we already have. I'm talking not only about our company, but probably about all architects and developers. I think this question is premature. But from the inquiries that buyers come to our developer clients, a picture of new spaces and new architecture is beginning to emerge brick by brick. We are already thinking about it.

What do you do in your leisure time?

Leisure is about children, because babysitters are also in quarantine. In fact, they take up all the free time. And a glass of wine sometimes helps too.

In the fight against boredom?

In the fight against everything, including boredom and lack of patience.


Anna Manako

Designer, Manako Design

Verona, Italy

Anna Manako at her desk

Do you follow the instructions of the Italian authorities to wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, stay at home and not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary?

Yes, of course we do. My family has been in quarantine since the closure of schools in Italy at the end of February. Since then, we have hardly communicated with anyone and have tried to shop online. The country has now introduced a very strict regime. You can only leave the house to go to a store, pharmacy or hospital, and you must stay no further than 200 meters from your place of residence, and you must have a document explaining the reason for leaving. Violation of the rules is punishable by a fine of up to €4,000. This is due to the fact that until recently, many people did not comply with the isolation rules. This may have led to the active spread of the disease at the initial stage of the epidemic.

How has quarantine affected your work?

Production-related projects have been temporarily put on hold, but new ideas and concepts are emerging on paper.

The current situation has accelerated many processes. Now I am mastering a new profession for myself as a teacher and recording a video course on the development of imaginative thinking. This educational project was supposed to be implemented before the epidemic in an offline format for bilingual teenagers in Verona. Unfortunately, the live format proved impossible, so I switched to the online format. So far, it is happening on a voluntary basis, as an aid to distract children from the current situation through the process of creation. In the course, I show methods of developing imaginative thinking by stylizing and transforming objects around us. Now there is also a group for adults, because the process of creation is a process in which you feel happy, and this is something that many people lack now, in the conditions of isolation.

What does your workplace look like? Have you equipped it for long hours of work in isolation?

I tried to improve my workplace and adapt it for online conferencing and recording video lessons.

What are the biggest challenges you face when working from home?

First of all, I would like to touch on the psychological aspect. It is not always possible to work effectively when negative news comes in, when the country you are in is going through a very tragic period. The balance between empathy and faith in the future is important here. For me, I accepted this situation right away, did not go through denial and had no illusions that life goes on as before. And I think it's very important not to waste time in denial and looking for conspiracy theories. It is also very important to filter information.

We are living not only in a time of coronavirus, but also of the information virus. Out of fear, out of rejection, without thinking about the consequences, people spread unverified and unnecessary information. Thus shifting the focus of attention from the necessary and important to completely unimportant things. That's why I try to spend a minimum of time on social media and follow only official news.

Anna Manako at her desk

How do you deal with distractions and maintain a working attitude?

When it comes to the work environment, it is very important that you have a schedule that you stick to every day. It is very important to get up by the alarm, do minimal exercise, follow the plan, but it is also important not to reproach yourself for moments of weakness.

Meditation and spiritual practices help me to concentrate. I try to start every day with them, not with watching the news feed.

My first-grader daughter has been studying remotely for a month now. At this age, online learning is not as effective and requires the constant presence of an adult. Therefore, we try to find a compromise and do not burden her too much, deciding that our priority is to keep the child and family calm, not the level of certain knowledge.

Has the current situation inspired you to come up with new design ideas that will become a new reality in the future?

There is definitely a rethinking of all the processes of life, and this will, of course, affect design. Now design's main task is to save people's lives. And there are already many examples of this. 3D printing studios produce protective masks and valves for breathing apparatus. In Italy, a scuba mask was adapted for a breathing apparatus. Armani, Fendi, and Gucci factories have reformatted their production facilities to make protective suits and masks.

Our lives and habits have changed dramatically. And design will have to solve new problems and optimize current processes. Some innovations will also enter post-quarantine life. In my opinion, robotization will accelerate, digital control will increase, and new devices will appear that will solve the problems of sanitation and disinfection.

We have new household needs for long-term storage of food, its zoning and disinfection. The need for a workplace in the house, equipment of the entrance area in the apartment/house with the possibility of disinfecting shoes and clothes.

There is a reassessment of values. We will no longer buy to impress others, but will do so for ourselves. Consumerism will no longer be a pastime, and consumption will become more conscious.

We will look for the joy and pleasure in our home and the objects around us that we are deprived of because we cannot travel or go to a museum.

The environmental friendliness and economy of the design object and its ability to transform to the needs of the user, reuse and recycling of things will become especially relevant. The trend of biomorphism and simplicity will continue. We will become more selective when it comes to buying things.


Roman Romanets

Architect, AVR

Lviv, Ukraine

Roman Romanets and his children

Do you follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health: wash your hands and disinfect surfaces, do not leave the house and do not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary, do not use public transport, do not meet with friends and relatives?

I tried to wash my hands even without quarantine (smiles), but yes, we try to do the rest. It's just that it's impossible to stay indoors, and I think that not going outside for so long is very unhealthy, the brain needs fresh air, so I took the kids once or twice a day and went for a walk/workout in the park near my house. But we kept a great distance from other people and did not touch anything with our bare hands. I have to admit, that week my friend, who is going through a very difficult business situation, asked me to meet him for advice. So I stopped by his place, but we sat at a fairly large distance and systematically sprayed everything around with disinfectant.

Have you switched to working from home?

When the school was quarantined, I realized that the situation was serious. As of March 13, I held a meeting with the IT department about the possibility of organizing work in a remote format. Over the weekend, all the necessary measures were taken, and on Monday and Tuesday we fully organized the work of people from home.

AVR office before and after quarantine

Bloomberg writes that for many, working from home has resulted in an extra hour or two of work per day (US and Western Europe). Is this about you?

I personally have three children who cannot be visited by grandparents due to quarantine, as well as an IT wife who has an important project that requires her systematic involvement. Accordingly, I am simply not able to work as I used to. At home, I can work for a maximum of four hours a day, but I periodically "escape" to the office, where I work much more efficiently.

As for the company's work, I have the following thoughts: 1) I am proud of our team, which has adapted to the circumstances at maximum speed and switched to a new work style with minimal time loss; 2) the project process is a team game that requires high efficiency of each player, and at a distance - and this is an objective reality - the effectiveness of teamwork decreases; 3) as for me, there is a rational grain in the Bloomberg article, especially if the work process requires your active involvement, you are involuntarily drawn into it and spend more time.

Did team members work more/less in general?

Perhaps by a certain percentage, especially in the first days of quarantine, when many processes had to be reconfigured, but we are used to fulfilling our obligations, so we simply have no right to work less.

Our team is divided into teams, each of which has its own team leader, who is responsible for the efficiency of the workflow, maintaining the mood and motivation of his colleagues. We've been using some Scrum tools for a long time: morning stand-ups, retrospectives, weekly planning, and others, which has significantly increased our work efficiency, and now we've just moved it online.

What does your workplace look like? Have you arranged it in any way to allow you to work from home for a long time?

The company worked together to deliver work computers to everyone who needed them. Each person arranged their workplace according to their capabilities and needs. It is very important that the workplace is in a different room from the bedroom. If this is not possible, then it should be arranged in such a way that you are not psychologically at home when you are there.

How has the quarantine affected your work (construction work stopped, there was no need to go to construction sites, there were fewer orders, projects were frozen, the nature of work changed, etc.)

Over the past week, I have talked to each of our customers on the phone. Everyone is in a fighting mood. And unless there are legislative bans, no one plans to stop. Therefore, the need to visit construction sites remains, of course, with all the means of protection. There is also a need to issue printed documentation, so occasionally, but occasionally, employees come to the office to print drawings.

AVR office before and after quarantine

What are the biggest challenges you face when working from home and how do you solve them?

In my opinion, the biggest problem with remote work is the lack of visual contact between the team. I used to walk around the office, look at the team, exchange a few words, and I had a completely different internal feeling, as if we were all together, one whole, but now it's impossible... For visual contact, you need to use a screen and a camera, but this is not the case

Creating a certain atmosphere and supporting the team is one of the priorities of a manager, and this process is significantly impaired at a distance. I have a strong hope that we will all return to normal soon, and that everything will get better in the world.

Did you have to introduce new tools for communication and planning?

Once again, our own software, which we developed and implemented a long time ago and without which we cannot imagine life, came in handy. In it, we live online in three times: in the future (planning our work), in the present (recording our every step), and in the past (viewing all the necessary statistics). In this respect, our lives have not changed significantly. We use standard Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime tools for visual contact with each other and at meetings with subcontractors and contractors. In general, communication is very important in our work, so we try not to weaken it.

Has the current situation inspired you to come up with new ideas for design and architecture that will become a new reality in the future?

To tell the truth, the whole situation is not very inspiring, but I am convinced that the new reality will be different from the current one. The architecture will definitely change and reconfigure to meet new needs and challenges.

How do you deal with distractions (children, relatives, refrigerator, etc.)?

As for children, how can you fight them? They just go crazy from the lifestyle that we have to adopt, and because of that, they drive their parents crazy. I try to keep them occupied with interesting games, household chores, and studying. But all this is not enough, they need activity and our attention. When they stay at home all day, and their parents try to work, it all turns into a fraught mixture. And all other factors are not distractions for me at all.

How do you deal with the boredom of self-isolation?

With three children at home, I never feel isolated. I miss seeing my friends and family in person, but these are new challenges that I have to deal with somehow. The main thing is to believe that this is only a temporary measure and that soon we will have the opportunity to see everyone, talk and enjoy ourselves to the fullest.


Olena Fateyeva

Designer, Fateeva Design

Kyiv, Ukraine

Olena Fateyeva

Do you follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health - wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, do not leave the house, do not use public transport and do not contact anyone unless absolutely necessary? Do you work from home?

Of course, I follow all the recommendations. But, to be honest, the quarantine hasn't really affected my work and creativity. For the past two years, I have been living like this. Chaotic construction, massive tree felling, concreting of the banks of the Dnipro River, transport collapse and other "joys" from the Kyiv authorities have done their job - Kyiv has become uncomfortable for both life and productive creativity. Life in the capital has turned into a struggle for survival for the citizens. That is why I have long been trying not to leave my home - my small but very comfortable world - unnecessarily.

How exactly does it work?

My home is also my office. My workplace is located by the window. From it, I can always see the sky and the birds that come to live on the Dnipro islands in the spring and summer. I see magnificent sunsets and nature changing its colors throughout the year. All of this inspires me not only to create new projects but also to fight for the preservation of green reserves in my hometown.

What upsets you the most in self-isolation?

Not being able to move freely around the world. This fact causes me discomfort and a feeling of slight suffocation. When you fly by air, the Earth seems very small. Any point on our planet can be reached in a day at most. In addition, free movement between cities, countries and continents is a state that has been familiar to me since childhood, and today it is also an important part of my profession. I really miss the beauty of French, German, Spanish and Italian streets. Meeting friends and colleagues at ISaloni. Trips to my brother in Bordeaux, where there are many wineries with beautiful vineyards in the suburbs. And, of course, it's quite difficult for me to be in Kyiv when my projects are in full swing in other countries.

What to do in this situation?

All approval processes have moved online, which helps us to survive this difficult period of inactivity. But don't think that self-isolation has only negative aspects. Quarantine also has positive aspects: it once again shows us how valuable live communication, tactile sensations, and the possibility of personal perception of the world are. Many of us will reconsider our life values and priorities while we are confined to home. I can say for sure that new schemes of mobile response to external circumstances and challenges will be thought out in the organization of work processes. Home offices will become even more popular. I myself am thinking today about how to reformat the layout of the house where the Fateeva Design office "lives". I want to separate the working part from our personal space.

How do you deal with distractions during quarantine (children, relatives, refrigerator, etc.)?

I have a simple answer to this question: no one and nothing interferes with my creativity. Given the fact that my husband and I are together almost 24 hours a day under normal circumstances, the quarantine has not affected our relationship and workflow. And I think it's unlikely to open up something new in each other, because we've always spent a lot of time together.

Olena Fateyeva's workplace

How did you use the extra free time (if you had it)?

I'm happy to have the time I've been given. I also thought that if everyone self-isolated, I would be able to take a break from defending Horbachyha. But it turned out that the destruction of the "Kyiv Amazon" did not stop during the quarantine. I still have hope that the developers and corrupt city officials will realize that their usual model of life has changed! That they may not be able to leave. They will have to live here, in the concrete ghetto they have created. Breathing poisoned air and drinking green muddy "compote" instead of clean water! Each of us should spend the time we have to realize that we have stayed in Ukraine because it is our home and we need to take care of it.

If someone had told me a month ago that most people would return to their countries, I would not have believed them. But it happened. Each of us is now in the conditions that we have created or allowed to be created for ourselves and others. Today, we all have time to think about what I can do personally to make my home, neighborhood, city, and country more comfortable.

How do you deal with the sadness of self-isolation?

The only thing that makes me sad is the fatigue of fighting windmills. When you see the city authorities waging a war against Kyiv residents at their own expense together with developers. And quarantine is a reasonable measure, which, based on the experience of other countries, calculates the approximate timeframe for exiting it. Moreover, self-isolation in Ukraine is now a conscious choice of each of us. When you have the right to choose, there is no room for sadness. It is disappointing that a large number of citizens in our country do not have a financial cushion to survive the quarantine painlessly without leaving home. It is also depressing to see the state of our healthcare system, which determines the number of patients and those who have recovered. And these circumstances make me sad, not only me.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I am never bored when I am alone with myself. I can always find something to do: I can lie in a hammock and watch the birds fly by, leaf through my favorite book or watch a good movie. But even in such moments, I think about design.

You are quite positive even in such a difficult situation.

I have experience of retreating alone. I am well acquainted with my own reactions to similar circumstances. The only difference is that then I spent time in one of the monasteries of the Himalayas, and today I am in my home, which can be called a lighter version. Self-isolation, of course, has its own psychological special effects, they are well described in the literature, you can observe them in yourself and it is interesting to work with them. In short, it is an amazing experience of self-discovery and a new perception of the world around you.

Today, more than a third of the total population is under quarantine of varying severity, and this could be a turning point in the development of humanity. I have no doubt that our lives will be different after the self-isolation is lifted, even if only for a while. What can we do right now to learn this lesson with maximum benefit and minimum loss and reboot for a new, more conscious life? Personally, I enjoy the slowing down of time, the silence of the space, and the silence of my cell phone. Today, nothing distracts me from new projects. I am calmly and thoughtfully engaged in the work I love so much!