As Ukraine was struck by Russia with a full-scale invasion on February 24th, liberty rested behind sorrow.
Today, exactly six months later, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, the urge to connect with heritage is stronger than ever.
Words by Guido Avelino
It is not every day you wake up to face your country being the victim of an invasion. This was, alas, the reality faced by millions of Ukrainians as Russia started a war on Ukraine’s territory in February 2022.
Today, Ukraine’s 31st Independence Day was marked by sorrow, amidst celebrations, as the completion of six months since the war unfolded. The date, however, can be defined as a recollection to the world, keeping alive the story of a nation’s heritage and culture. It was motivated by this spirit that GUNIA Project launched a collection encapsulating the power of life and freedom.
Founded in 2017 by Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska, GUNIA was established as a love letter to and from Ukraine. The brand’s essence has always been grounded in traditional local and historic attributions. From Ukrainian Baroque motifs to mysterious architect Ignatius Kazimirovich. Textile elements from the Carpathian Mountains and colorful embroidery of the Bukovyna area are examples of how influenced they are by their own inherited artistry.
It was, though, earlier this year when the war started, that the creative duo was faced with the opportunity to make a statement through their products as well as bring awareness to the world regarding the war.
We are still adapting to the new reality. I’m sure that for quite some time we will not be able to say that everything is fine because it is not so. The war in Ukraine is still going on. We are fighting for our freedom, future, democracy, dreams, and the opportunity to grow and build businesses. But we are building our new “fine” at the moment, and we are determined to have an amazing future — as individuals, as a business and as a country. For this to be possible, all of the Ukrainians have united to work twice as hard and do everything in their powers to keep going on no matter what.
— Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska, founders of GUNIA Project
The collection, entitled ‘ВОЛЯ’ (reads Volya, Ukrainian for ‘Freedom’), was shaped by the deep-rooted identity and values of the Ukrainian people, and the founders’ urge to cultivate and pass along Ukraine’s ancestry.
ВОЛЯ runs in our veins and is our national code. No more words are necessary to describe the inspiration for this collection from GUNIA Project.
— Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska
The latest addition to their line of ceramics includes hand-painted plates, a cup, a vase, and a teapot, with the words: “Liberty”, “Peace” and “Freedom”. Gilding details are shown in all of the pieces. The collection also added new pattern options to their silk scarves line, with two extra bandanas that come in various shades of blue and yellow. Concluding the collection there is the ‘Freedom Necklace’, in both colors, handmaid with Czech glass beads.
This is our greatest opportunity–to communicate with the world through our products and continue telling stories about Ukrainian culture and current events. Build and create rather than seek to destroy as our enemy does.
[…] We believe that it’s always darkest before dawn. And after every nightmare comes the light. Very soon Ukrainians will be able to wake up in the morning, meet and hug their loved ones, and rebuild our country,”
— Maria Gavryliuk and Natasha Kamenska
The message left by GUNIA is not of a grieving country but rather a celebratory call for victory and survival, to Ukrainians all over the world. It is the storytelling of a free nation that withstands resistance—and will keep fighting with all resources given. These are the integral makings of the Ukrainian identity and the message to be honored on Independence Day.
We stand with Ukraine. Happy Independence Day to all Ukrainians. Slava Ukraini!
All images courtesy of GUNIA Project.
Find out more about the brand and its heritage here.
Shop GUNIA Project FREEDOM collection here.