"Caution, painted!" is a project created in partnership with the brand Sadolin, which is part of the AkzoNobel concern and is the world's leading producer of the highest quality paint.
We talk about the life and creative palette with the best Ukrainian architects and designers. One hero - one color.
Emil Dervish is known for the projects of offices, Kyiv art gallery The Naked Room, as well as apartments, the style of which ranges from minimalism to eclectic bohemianism. His projects are published by AD, Yellowtrace, Yatzer, Designboom. In 2019, the Australian portal Est Living included Dervish in the list of 10 best designers.
The words "honesty" and "opinion" came up most often in our conversation with architect Emil Dervish. He opposes honesty to inflated marketing and the pursuit of other people's ambitions. The presence or absence of thought determines the quality of a building, project or piece of furniture. And in old chairs, as well as in old houses, the designer sees more thought.
In the blue sea, in the white foam
My childhood was spent in a Crimean village near Simferopol. There is beautiful nature, around the rock and the field, but it is quite boring. Now it seems to me that a boring childhood in nature among chickens is a good thing. When they don't take you to a million clubs, because there are simply none nearby, you figure out what to do yourself. Your imagination has no limits. I would learn to play the guitar or invent some endless games: I would imagine myself a cow running and grazing in the front garden for hours.
Bottle with ultramarine
From the age of 6 I decided that I would be an artist. An example was the older brother, he went to study to be an architect.
When I turned 14, I entered college — the Crimean Art School named after M.S. Samokysha in Simferopol. It was an interesting time: I was young, studying and living in a foreign city where temptations had to be resisted.
At the beginning of the journey I was very naive, this naivety and ability to work helped a lot. For example, my teacher could joke that to be good at drawing, you need to do 500 sketches a week. I bought a pack of A4 sheets and in a week I sketched them with sketches of my classmates during breaks, people on the trolleybus, in the waiting room at the station. For this purpose, I completely redrew a huge book of caricatures by the Danish illustrator Herluf Bidstrup. That's how I learned to draw, write and think well.
In my first year of study, I made friends with a guy who was into graffiti. I was also absorbed by this culture. We went to paint at night, climbed on trains, I don't know if it's even possible to talk about it. I liked the graffiti theme and the whole story, but I couldn't afford to buy paints - there was no money for it. Don't ask your parents for money for a can of Montana. Therefore, I drew "pieces" not on the walls, but in a thick notebook. Then I gave it to a guy who had the opportunity to buy paints, but he couldn't paint like I did. He started drawing under my nickname.
In my second year of college, I started working. My classmate's mother was a designer and called me to work as her assistant. I was already able to visualize, for Simferopol at the beginning of zero it was a rarity.
The blue pill
I went to Kyiv and entered the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture. I realized that I did not see myself as an artist, and decided to choose a more applied and predictable direction - architecture.
Earlier, more effort, more energy and thought were invested in designing. It is felt. Now everything is hyperbolized, often unreasonable
To be a good artist, it is not enough to draw well - you must also be an interesting and deep personality, put a lot of meaning into your works. To do this, you need to learn these meanings, gain life experience. I don't think you can be an artist at a young age. Unless thanks to good marketing. A young architect has a better chance of survival. Here, too, life experience is needed, but today the world is changing so quickly that this experience can be gained without waiting sixty years, as it was in the past.
I like working in the old housing stock, despite the fact that there are few authentic buildings left in Kyiv. What was not destroyed earlier during the war was repaired and reworked in the XNUMXs. These are plasterboard structures, multi-level ceilings, laminate. In fact, it all needs to be demolished and rebuilt. In Lviv, for example, the situation is different: many old buildings with their original details have been preserved there. In such objects, minimal intervention of the designer is required - just to "comb" the space.
Earlier, more effort, more energy and thought were invested in designing. It is felt. Nowadays, everything is hyperbolized, often unreasonable. It's about volumes, square meters, technical and economic indicators, not about life or comfort. There is no understanding of how a person lives and how he spends his leisure time in the projects of new housing complexes.
The same with furniture. Old things have a lot of meaning and quality. I especially like furniture and lighting samples from the fifties. Many factories are now buying the rights to these models and reproducing them. Before, the design was technological, but at the same time alive. That's why I love vintage, it perfectly enlivens the space.
It surprises me when modern designers create another uncomfortable chair. It feels like they're stuck: they keep duplicating, plodding along and solving the same old problems. But the world has moved on, and the tasks have changed.
The design depends on the task, space, type of building. The functional basis is primary for me. A project is a task that essentially has only one correct solution. There are many hypotheses and assumptions, but only one works, which coincides with my opinion and the opinion of the client. This decision is the basis, canvas, framework of the project. I spend the maximum time on this stage. When the base is found, anything can be applied to it: decorate, change, remove the decor.
It happens that you work according to your comfortable scheme, and then a project appears that does not fit into it. To find a solution for it, you need to break your brain, rebuild. You go beyond the comfort zone, and you don't want to return to it anymore. This is how growth happens.
One of the projects that blew my mind was the Birdsnest apartment. It is located in Kyiv on Reitarska Street. The upper floor of a corner building with a tower, built by the architect Verbytskyi. This is an apartment with a mood, but its planning did not allow to squeeze the maximum useful function out of the space. A thick load-bearing wall divided the apartment into two parts.
We had to sacrifice a part of this wall, calculate the load and strengthen the structure. It was necessary to carry out a difficult operation: with the help of rock climbers, huge beams were pulled to the apartment on the upper floor. This decision might seem superfluous, but if we had not done so, the whole mood of the apartment would have been lost in its walls.
When a designer says "my project", I wince a little. We create projects in dialogue with the client, it is always cooperation. I don't believe in style, I believe in solving problems. I create a frame, a functional base, and string the client's personal story on it. Eclectic is often the result, but I don't like to try on styles. Style is a framework. There are none in my work.
Decoration usually happens by itself, the decoration contains the personal experience of customers. I am interested in working with people who have a story, an opinion. Such customers are pleasant to listen to. If there is no story and no decor, that's fine too. Let it be seen that this is the apartment of a family that has just been formed, that has not yet become overgrown with the past and has not accumulated things. That's fair. When a designer makes a "dry" project, and then rents a bunch of vases for two days, arranges them with the accuracy of a millimeter to make a photo shoot, this fakeness and commercial component are visible in the photo.
Ultramarine is associated with my favorite period in design and art — the fifties of the last century. This is one of Mondrian's colors. It is in Charlotte Peryan's lamp, Jean Prouvet's chair legs, and Alexander Calder's kinetic sculptures. Back then, architects and artists were inspired by each other and played along with each other.
My relationship with color has changed over time. I started working in the second year of the academy. I realized that if I am not busy, then the relaxed and sleepy rhythm of the academy will absorb me. For several years I worked for my professor Dmytro Ivanovich Antonyuk, then I did my private projects, I worked for six months at archimatika.
An architectural studio is always a framework. When I got out of that frame, a period of exuberance and color began. I was young and wanted to do some bold things. This is what I did in the first few years of my solo career. Then I calmed down a bit, took a breather, and the colors in the projects decreased.
I am close to the concept where housing is the background for your life. The emphasis should not be on him, but on the person. I love color, but it needs to be handled with care. Ultramarine works well when it is in accents and splashes. Along with gray and white, it plays on the contrast — it becomes active, flashy.
I don't set long-term goals. Everything around is changing quickly, and I myself am also changing. Ukraine and our rhythm of life is not a reality where you can plan something for years ahead.
I like the philosophy of the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. He is in no hurry to live, he can think about a project for five years. I myself probably won't do that, because I am in different conditions and in a different paradigm. But now I take on fewer projects than before so that I have time to think. Due to the crazy rhythm and haste, much is lost in the process, and little thought remains in the work.
I am close to the concept where housing is a certain background for your life. The emphasis should not be on him, but on the person
If we talk about a dream project, then I would like to reconstruct a palace or a museum. In Ukraine or abroad. Rethink the space, combine what was and what is new. So that the visitor understands history, but at the same time feels the spirit of our time. As it happens in Berlin's Neues Museum, which was reconstructed by architect David Chipperfield.
Text: Nadia Sheykina
Photo: Mykhailo Loskutov