About the Gunia Project
GUNIA Project is a Ukrainian brand of exceptional interior items & accessories focused on crafts and significant decor — it expands and rethinks traditional craftsmanship through effort and imagination. The founders are two Ukrainian designers, Natalia Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk.
Their main goal is to preserve Ukraine’s national values and tell the world about the country’s beauty in a modern way. Inspired by their ancestors’ deep and rich cultural heritage, Natalia and Maria produce ceramics, glass, homeware, and accessories.
The main philosophy of the brand is not to limit itself.
The word “Project” in the name stands for the desire of the brand to interpret Ukrainian heritage in various forms and without boundaries.
For instance, the brand produces candles, sculptures, carpets, and jewelry, creates educational content via social, shares information about artisanal crafts — and is planning to expand the variety of activities even more in the future. The brand uses folk crafts to inspire and considers the slightest details of traditional culture to create designer products.
Ukraine has vast cultural potential, filled with rich traditions and cultural manifestations, regrettably mainly unfamiliar to most people. Therefore, one of the main goals of Ukrainian brands is to spread accurate information about our national masterpieces by overturning stereotypes and existing artificial perceptions.
GUNIA Project is among the brands that aim to change the global views about our country formed in the past and show its new and modern present. From time immemorial, many stereotypes have gathered around Ukraine; GUNIA Project tries to influence human thoughts about Ukraine and change them.
The primary compass of the brand’s work is the modernization of art and giving a second life to those forgotten things and meanings. With its careful approach to resurrecting traditions in design, GUNIA Project develops a culture of caring for crafts, materials, and traditions, nurturing conscious consumption and emotional attachment to things.
About the Founders
The founders and art directors of GUNIA Project — Natalia Kamenskaya and Maria Gavrilyuk worked together for a long time in the fashion industry and, in 2019, joined forces to create GUNIA Project.
The central vision drives the creative duo to create the future inspired by the best practices of the past and its modern interpretation.
The first product released under the brand name was the Hutsul wool coat gunia, handmade in the Carpathians. It is in honor of this product that GUNIA Project got its name.
Ukraine has a rich and ancient culture of handicrafts, thanks to the country’s deep history and the artists that have entangled that account into their masterpieces with their own hands. GUNIA Project supports Ukrainian artisans and revives ancient Ukrainian techniques to uncover the underexplored world of Ukrainian craft for people interested in art and its roots and for aesthetic connoisseurs.
The search for artists specializing in rare techniques is a very responsible process. Still, the founders prepare carefully and never limit the purpose of the hunt because they often find even more than just talented people. They often find a perfect addition to the team, a fascinating story behind it, or an inspiration for the new collection.
Throughout the brand’s journey, the GUNIA Project team has worked with various techniques to produce multiple items. Among them are the guta glass, ceramics, gunia’s, and textile items.
One of the unique techniques is the production of Guta glass which then takes the form of artful homeware. It is traditionally made in the Carpathiansthe mountainous region in the Western part of Ukraine by a particularly unique method. Everything is done delicately by hand to create products of the proper shape, then color is added.
It is worth noting that glass has its characteristics. Thus, it is quite challenging to work with, so the craftsmen can rightly call themselves true artists as they have a set of specific techniques and methods of manual processing of glass in a hot state that are pretty complicated to replicate.
Creating clay dishes or decorative items is a meticulous multi-step process into which artists invest all their knowledge and experience. In Ukraine, ceramic plates traditionally used by Ukrainian housewives were made by hand and decorated with hand-painted ornaments and patterns. GUNIA borrowed and adapted the idea to the modern world, producing items that can look great in the kitchen and when used as decor.
Such dishes can become a true jewel in the house, adding a touch to the age-old experience of our ancestors. The GUNIA Project founders developed unique designs inspired by Ukrainian stained glass, antique towels, and Ukrainian folklore.
The most iconic thing for the brand is a traditional Hutsul fur coat called “gunia”, woven from sheared sheep’s wool called gunia. That’s where the brand name came from.
Creating such a fur coat takes several weeks and is done exclusively by hand. Gunias were worn as work clothes when people tended to sheep in the mountains. The artists with exceptional technology and skills emphasize that making gunia beautiful and lush is vital. Every detail in this delicate work is essential, especially making yarns on ancient precious musical instruments using technologies passed down from older generations.
The founders’ release of the first collection of ornamented silk scarves by GUNIA Project was in 2018, inspired by Ukrainian embroidered towels of the XVIII century from the archives of the Ivan Honchar Museum.
The First Gunia Collection
When preparing the first collection, Maria and Natasha established an inevitable and close connection with other arts — painting, icons, woodwork, and ceramics. Scarves and bandanas of the brand made of silk and wool decorated with ornaments based on naive folk paintings or ceremonial holiday sewing are all handmade and stand out with a unique color palette.
In Ukraine, there are whole villages where the main activity of the population is wickerwork. In ancient times, the entire family took part in this process. Each product is a unique creation that reflects the author’s mood, skill, and character. The method of wickerwork is truly magical, especially the special preparation of thin cane or whole vines for weaving. The artists make a basket with their own hands and put soul into each item, which usually takes a full day of hard work.
GUNIA Project shows us repeatedly that everything created by the artists is always special and unique because it has its energy, history, and soul. Masterpieces of wickerwork, filled with vital content, could become a talisman for any home.
GUNIA Project is a brand that has absorbed traditions, customs, and artistic heritage and turned these masterpieces into contemporary elements of our lives. The high quality and personal character of each product are of the essence.
Undoubtedly, the strength of each nation is in its original history, and those who emphasize and support this with their creativity, like GUNIA Project, deserve particular emphasis and admiration.