With inspiration drawn from both the familiar and unexpected—from illustrations of St. Nicholas painted on bygone Ukrainian tiles, to depictions of the rabbit from the 2023 Chinese zodiac—Ukrainian brand GUNIA Project’s Christmas collection is a festive blend of art and heritage. Just as works of art at a museum, each piece seeks to preserve the fragile memory of generations, both the past and future, while bringing a sense of comfort and warmth to the Ukrainian people during the war. As part of the brand’s effort to help its home country, GUNIA makes monthly donations in support of Ukraine.
Words by Fernanda Russomano
Known for referencing the roots of Ukrainian heritage in all its products, GUNIA Project has always looked to museums for inspiration, treating each piece as having unique value and depicting them as independent works of art. Just as its Summer 2022 FREEDOM collection, GUNIA’s collections are always a love letter to and from Ukraine, celebrating the local inherited traditions and sharing its hopes for a better tomorrow.
Since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022 when Russia first invaded Ukraine, many cities have suffered intense bombing, resulting in the death of over 6,490 civilians and leaving 9,972 injured to date, according to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. With many cities being sieged and heavily attacked, the Ukrainian nation has been going trough great suffering for over nine months. Still, GUNIA remains strong. “We have to go on no matter what. Go on fighting, working and donating – of course, not ignoring the air raids sirens”, the brand shared through its Instagram account.
Seeking to bring a sense of comfort to its consumers, the Christmas 2023 campaign takes us inside the protagonist’s dream as she wanders around the National Art Museum of Ukraine. She wears the brand’s silk pajamas as she admires GUNIA’s beautiful art displays with their unique ceramic pieces painted in cobalt blue and their pattern-filled silk scarves.
We are all going through difficult times now. That’s why we really wanted this collection to transport its owners to a safe place and warm childhood memories, even for a second … We believe that memories and dreams make us wander, as well as our heroine, to the most precious corners of life, and we wanted to present this feeling to people by creating a New Year’s collection.
— GUNIA founders Natalya Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk
I remember when I was a child, we used to gather all of our relatives for Christmas, no matter what parts of the world we were in. The whole family flew in or came to Grandma’s for Christmas Eve.
My mother forbade us to eat until the first star came up, that was the main tradition. And we ran to the kitchen and sneaked away with pies and sweets. Amazing and warm feelings.
My sister and I with friends also sang carols, for which we were given candy and sometimes even money. I adore these memories.
— Natalya Kamenska
Founded in 2017 by the creative female duo Natasha Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk, GUNIA Project always aims to create unique design pieces by interpreting cultural elements and Ukrainian heritage. They aim to combine a modern world perspective with local craftsmanship techniques and historic references based on deep ethnographic research into different regions of Ukraine. While ceramic plates from its new Christmas collection feature illustrations of St. Nicholas based on 18th and 19th century tiles from the well-known pottery center Kosiv in the Hutsul region, napkins and vases are adorned with beautiful illustrations inspired by the painting “Girl with a Cat” by an unknown artist displayed at the Ivan Honchar Museum. Named for the year of the rabbit from the 2023 Chinese zodiac, the collection features beautifully handmade and hand-painted ceramics, rabbit-shaped scented candles, pattern-filled table textiles and delicate embroidered napkins.
We decided to dedicate each Christmas collection to the zodiacs for the next 12 years and then supplement them with new items. We dream that people will be able to collect decor items from GUNIA Project in their own collections, which would have all the signs of the zodiac. That’s why we’ve also added collectable silver spoons with the same signs.
— Maria Gavryliu
The main dishes that are dear to my heart are “Olivie” and “Shuba” salads. Although I grew up in the post-Soviet period, my mother always prepared them for the New Year. And I am so happy that we have сreated homeware perfect for any Christmas dishes.
— Maria Gavryliu
Also featured in the Christmas collection are the brand’s famous silk head scarves and flowy silk pajamas with colorful mixed patterns matching the beautiful cobalt blue color that stands out on the ceramic pieces. As a way of experimenting with design and avoiding fabric waste, mixed-checkered pajamas also compose the collection with traditional Ukrainian embroidered detachable collars decorated with openwork lace and patterns taken from the cloths of 19th century Poltava region. Each cotton checkered piece is unique in design as it results on the random combination of repurposed products.
Bringing comfort through childhood holiday memories, GUNIA Project’s 2023 Christmas collection is a unique and beautiful blend celebrating family traditions and Ukrainian heritage. Always seeking to support its home country, the brand donates a share of its monthly profits to support Ukraine.
More information about GUNIA Project can be found at guniaproject.com.
All images courtesy of GUNIA Project.
PHOTO CAMPAIGN CREDITS
3D CAMPAIGN CREDITS
Read more about GUNIA Project on ZOOT`s previous feature about the Summer 2022 FREEDOM collection at zootmagazine.com.