Natalia Bolshakova: you need to dream more boldly

Natalia Bolshakova is the founder and director of the Bolshakova Interiors studio, regional director of the Society of British and International Design (SBID) in Ukraine, winner of the SBID International Design Awards, European Property Awards - one of the most successful Ukrainian interior designers. We asked her about dreams that have come to fruition, ones yet to be realised and about her ambitious plans for the year. We also touched on how a successful business can be combined with her social life and about the absence of idols in the sphere of design. We talked to Natalia in her studio.

PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA: What did a radiophysicist dream about? How did your dreams change when you became an interior designer? What are you dreaming now?

Natalya Bolshakova: I definitely never dreamed of becoming a famous interior designer. This is an ongoing process, and I still have no idea how it ends(laughs). My plans and further development would otherwise be plain boring. At the moment, in the light of recent events, my ultimate dream is to have health and peace, and love of course! All of this I think of as parts in an engine, providing the strength needed to drive all my plans and achievements.


In my professional field, I remember myself 5 years ago and my feelings after meeting with colleagues from overseas whom, for some reason we always think are, in some way,better than us. Of course, it would be too bold of me to argue that we are in any way superior. You just need to comprehend that we are fundamentally the same, we have similar opportunities. Children in the west seem more comfortable with this concept.As a result, they feel freer to achieve their ambitions in life. In Ukraine, even though ostensibly having the same opportunities, for some reason we are afraid to take them or follow our dreams.

P.M.: Today, this self-depreciation persists?

N.B.: Oh yes, and this is despite the fact that we communicate with foreign colleagues, we see examples of their work every day. Even within our profession, many have such an inferiority complex, even though the majority are aspiring people with specific skills and ambitions. In other words, you need to dream more boldly! that is probably my main message. Do you want to fly into space - just fly!

P.M.: And how daringly do you dream today? And what is your courage based on?

N.B.: I do not know whether it is possible to disclose all the plans. I have dreams about my company (Bolshakova Interiors) and regarding SBID UKRAINE - this is also a very important project for me. My dream is that my company will accumulate colossal experience in the field of interiors and related business. There are a lot of components. Of course, you have to produce, let's say, beautiful projects that are accessible and comprehensible to the whole world, in the broadest meaning. It should also be a finely tuned process with skilled management, the entire internal system must work without fail. Indeed, in interior design, the only unpredictable part is the creative component of a sketch or drawing at the very beginning of work on the project. That's it! As soon as the concept is agreed, as soon as the connection with the client is established, the rest of the work is a well rehearsed list of actions related to each part of the project. All this can be planned and put into the projected time frame - people, costs, and so on. Here is the dream - to bring this process to fruition and of course perfection. We are still in the middle of our journey.

Bolshakova

P.M.: And are customer reactions always 100% predictable?

N.B.: No, of course not. However, there is a certain logic here, the harder we work, the more predictable the reaction. We need to act like a psychologist - to tune in to the client, understand his thinking, determine what may be close to him, and what, on the contrary, should not be offered. I think everyone faces it. Also, very often, designers give themselves clear boundaries: either they work in private design or in commercial design. Some go into subject design, others into art. It should be remembered that the moment of contact with the client is difficult for many of us.

P.M.: And how about this?

N.B.: We are good ! (laughs)! We really turned into a really proficient company. All the employees have been working with me for one or two years, and they are exactly what they should be, in my opinion, ideal employees. They probably see in me the leader they need. In the same way, for me, people who share our values and strive for development are important. I often say if a lecture at 8 am is too early for you, then you are not for us (laughs). This is our norm. If we want to achieve something extra, then we need to do things better than others, to strive to become better, to invest time and finances in development. I select the right master classes for my team, and together we learn, strengthen our skills and move forward.

P.M.: In 2012 you received the SBID award. And a little later they became the regional director of SBID.

N.B.: Yes, this achievement was also a very important point in my career. My partner Yulia Danilova received a regional representation in 2015. This is a significant, interesting project about development, the formation of quality standards, bringing the design industry to the international field of business, investing our experience in our country, in our industry and youth development. It is actually very rewarding. I think that in any field people should be working in the same way. That is, journalists should invest their own experience in journalists, designers - in designers, carpenters - in carpenters, builders - in builders. It helps to develop each industry.

P.M.: Now it’s customary to talk about the social impact of any profession. In architecture, this is how a building affects the urban space, how it improves the city, facilitates the life of its inhabitants. And in interior design? The stage at which you received SBID representative status how was your business impacting on society?

N.B.: Naturally, we do a lot for the development of the younger generation. We set ourselves an ambitious task - to move aspects of the educational system towards a direct connection with the real profession, addressing the real needs of the industry. I believe this is happening.Currently, our competitive tasks are included in the programmes of 23 Ukrainian universities. It is also important to understand that these tasks are real cases, absolutely up-to-date and coordinated with Britain. Our tasks are formulated as real projects for designers: you need to create a concept for a space, with specific requirements and a predefined budget. As part of the training, we give a series of educational workshops, together with our partners, for example, on heating systems, on automation, on various materials and technologies.


I want to note that since last year we have included Universal Design in the educational process. I think there is more than enough social impact. This is a new area for Ukraine that needs to be developed. We acquaint students with the underlying principles. Generally, in this sector it is necessary to reach everyone, not only the young. We can at least try to communicate the concept that universality is necessary in public spaces, in contrast with the sphere of private interiors where it is generally taboo!


One of the mega-positive moments is the internship of the winners of our Get me 2 the Top contest in the UK. Imagine how difficult it was to get them a work visa! Everyone said: you will not succeed, change the prize, send the winners on a tour ...

P.M.: But did it work?

N.B.: Yes. The internship winners are sent to the architectural bureau Jestico + Whiles, one of the largest in Britain. The company implements projects around the world. So our Alina (Alina Pipoyan - a graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, the winner of the Get me 2 the Top competition in 2018 - Editor's note.) Is now working in the Jestico + Whiles team on a hotel in Switzerland. This involves working at a very high level and it is pleasing that for the second year in a row the British bureau are taking our finalists. Clearly,they are very happy with our guys.

P.M.: And what is special about us - Ukrainian designers, architects, industrial designers - what can we give to Britain and the West as a whole, what do you think?

N.B.: Why are they interesting for us? I would say that everyone who wants to be there is very ambitious. It is always interesting to communicate with those who have a point of view, 100% different from yours. Since we have our own history, our own background, our own development path, our ideas are uniquely different from their ideas. We provide an opportunity to carry out cultural exchange, which is beneficial for both parties.


We have a high number of self-taught people, as a direct result of the absence of a functional educational system, which in turn has helped form true professionals. All those who achieve something are faced with the need to complete their education, relearn, and so on. If our educational system were more structured, we would have produced more qualified professionals.

P.M.: And what are you inspired by? What basically encourages you to work?

N.B.: I tried to analyze this and it turned out to be quite strange. When, suppose, I have a project, I need to sit down and be inspired! I visit some places, even those not related to design, exhibitions, communicate with people, look at any helpful information, visual clues and so on. When the real challenge presents itself, it all comes together. In the end, I came to the conclusion that it is best to disconnect. Every day, except Monday, when we have planners, I try not to come to the office at all until 2 o'clock. I put the phone on airplane mode. And only then can I work on a project. Because I devote my time to creativity.

P.M.: If we talk about creativity, are there good designers in Ukraine, do you think?

N.B.: I see quite good precedents. I really like what Katya Sokolova, Pavel Vetrov, Victoria Yakusha and many young guys are doing, and I don’t remember all of them now. True, I did not buy anything from them. I know that they are developing, advancing and in demand. But, you know, when I get to the exhibition in Milan or in Paris,I see such a huge amount of products, which, it seems to me, expecting them to stand out against this background is simply unrealistic. It only means that I still have a lot to learn in subject design. I wish all talented people great success and victories!

P.M.: Nevertheless, every year exhibitions try to surprise, and often designers manage to do it.

N.B.: This is achieved by those manufacturers that have already become giants. If we are talking about a beautiful product - this is one thing. If we talk about opportunities to earn money from it, for everyone in the chain from the designer to the consumer, this is a completely different question. In every industry,it seems to me that you need to sell so much, to have such a wide market so that there is a profit! I do not understand the numbers. Actually, I don’t see any point in releasing individual collection and, for some reason they talk about design exclusively as creativity!


Italians have a long history and traditions in the field of design. Often, the third generation of the family develops some kind of technology. We do not have this in principle. All the rest is tuning, optimization and provisioning. Suppose you want a massive order, you should be able to implement it in the required amount and stable quality. By the way, this is the problem of many talented guys: there are a lot of orders, but nobody understands how to scale. How to ensure consistent quality, how to find a customer, how to pack, how to deliver, how to deliver on time and properly serve the customer? We have achieved it all by ourselves. And as for our foreign colleagues - imagine - this is after only 5 years!


Let's look at another example - what we call the luxury market. Yes, it is exclusive, not for everyone. We are well aware of brands that produce a premium product in larger numbers whilst maintaining stability and high quality without losing reputation. This is true of companies like Hermes, Loro Piana - they have huge volumes.

P.M.: Actually, that's why they occupy such a niche.

N.B.: Of course. It is necessary to understand that mass production should not be associated with loss of quality. We have a common myth that if you increase the volume, you cease to be exclusive. I think you need fine tuning - and everything works.

P.M.: And what about the work on the interiors of your clients? Do you dictate the need to follow trends or are you ready to compromise their understanding of beauty and design?

N.B.: You know, in life and in work, the most important thing is to be honest. Any interior is special and unique. In many ways, because it is a collaboration of the client’s desires and experience, the designer’s vision. I always say frankly what I like and what I don’t. Of course, to offend a client is unacceptable and so if I perceive that some of his decisions are not good ones, then I will simply look for the right arguments. In the end, this is my speciality, and the client generally realises this. Understanding the effectiveness of certain methods, I can always find an argument or offer a choice. Of course, in general, I think that customers who come to us are happy people (laughs).

P.M.: Let's talk about contests. Are they important at all for the interior designer and for you personally?

N.B.: Very important. I think they help cheer up. You need to participate, you need to choose the most difficult ones and participate. If you win - fine, then well done. If you don’t win, that’s good too, you learn from failure, so there’s a lot of work to do.

P.M.: Do you take this into account as an assessment of your work?

N.B.: Of course, this is an estimate. With regards to the evaluation of the industry, it is important that totally independent experts are responsible. That is, they have never seen you, only your work. Therefore, of course, invaluable.

P.M.: But are you talking about foreign contests now? And the Ukrainian?

N.B.: I do not take part in contests in Ukraine, everyone knows each other. It has no intrinsic value.

P.M.: And Western competitions? In which you would like to participate, in which participated? What are reputable for you?

N.B.: SBID International Design Awards, of course. This year we entered the shortlist in the most difficult category, which is already a great achievement. The basic requirements were residential properties where the project excedes $ 1,000,000. This category includes incredibly beautiful objects at the top end of the market.


In general, this year 18 projects reached the finals from Ukraine - this is a great achievement and testament to the work of the SBID Ukraine team. We are doing very well internationally. Vanessa Brady, President of SBID, said during our meeting at a conference in London: “You have no problems with creativity - this is understandable.


However, it seems that you lack the knowledge to make the ventures more profitable ”


We are also going to other contests this year, and I will let you know how they go.

P.M.: Can you comment on what Vanessa said when she mentioned using creativity in a more financially rewarding way?

N.B.: Structural and project management, financial literacy. We do not know how to formulate contracts correctly, do not understand our rights, do not understand client rights. These questions arise in any business, and we are no exception. If you want to set up a business, be comprehensively ready. A beautifully drawn project is no use unless it comes to fruition!

P.M.: What is the role of the state in the field of interior design? Do you need a stronger presence? How does it regulate the relationship between the designer and his client? Does it regulate the industry at all?

N.B.: I do not feel supported by the state. We develop and shape our world ourselves. Where exactly state support is needed is in the area of protecting the industry from the “gray” market. I am sure that suppliers are the first to suffer, architects and designers are the second to suffer, because they are losing time because of customer behaviour. If the market was regulated and strictly regulated, then the whole chain would work and be more profitable. Moreover the client would be calm in matters of service, and the architect - in dealing with contractors.


Better conditions are also necessary to retain qualified specialists in the construction industry in Ukraine. Many left, unfortunately. We can draw anything, but who will build it? But here, as much as 50% success!


Also, almost all SBID Ukraine projects need state support. While we are building everything ourselves, we hope that we will soon meet with the right representatives of government structures, people as enthusiastic about their work, as we are.

P.M.: We talked about work. Let's talk about rest. How do you recover?

N.B.: I recover through communication with my family. I would say that I prefer to spend time with my relatives,without strangers. We have a lot of great and interesting communication with the team, with customers, and with contractors. Everyone needs to be energised (laughs)I am always on the move. I can’t have enough communication with the family and our children are at such a magical age, when they consider you almost a god! They are already so interesting!

P.M.: Would you like them to follow in your footsteps in the profession?

N.B.: If they followed in my footsteps, I could certainly guide them and help. But if they see themselves differently and are happy in some other area - let it be. After all, the main thing is that they find the very profession ... I think we definitely need to provide them with basic training, give them the opportunity to find and develop themselves. I believe that creative professions will always be their area . Our work itself, the process of creating architecture and design, of course, will change, but its essence will remain the same. You just have to develop this predisposition in yourself, apply your creativity. One of my daughters is clearly a creative girl and so focussed. The second is just an explosion of emotions. Her predisposition is communication. Because she is such a person - is able to grab the attention of everyone around her. This is her natural trait. My husband and I are different.

P.M.: Did you create your own home interior?

N.B.: Yes, and we live in an apartment that I did 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter. And now I am working on a project of my own house.

P.M.: What are your favorite brands in your home?

N.B.: The house is designed in a modern style. There is, of course, be Poliform, there is Lualdi, Poltrona Frau, Minotti. Here is a group of favourite brands.

P.M.: And the kitchen?

NB: Kitchen - Poliform. But part of it will be done according to a special sketch which involves complicated construction, you always want something non-standard!

P.M.: Do you have a favourite chair?

N.B.: No. Comfortable yes, but the perfect chair not yet.

P.M.: And what happened with the sofa?

N.B.: I want to try the new Bellport from Poliform. I will try it out and see how it feels.

P.M.: Do you have design icons whose work you follow?

N.B.: I follow some designers. India Madavi is very creative. It is interesting to follow the work of Jean-Marie Massot - I like his products, they are so elegant. Emmanuel Gallina - very elegant, soft-shaped products. The Impressive Carlo Colombo line for Giorgetti, Atelier, Campana and the collection of Marcel Wanders Objets Nomades for Louis Vuitton.

P.M.: How wide is your range in interior design? What will you never design?

N.B.: I do not like littered spaces. Great art - to create an interior that does not tire and does not become obsolete.

P.M.: And the last question. Do you have goals that you want to achieve in 2019?

N.B.: I want to work in five markets of the world - in France, Britain, Asia, States and Ukraine. That is, to tailor the work of the team so that we are internationally flexible. We are already on this path and work in France with foreign clients. And of course, move forward!!

The interview was taken by Konstantin Kovshevatsky, chief editor of PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA.
See the full interview at: https://pragmatika.media/natalja-bolshakova-nuzhno-mechtat-smelee/

Meet The Buyer: a fantastic networking opportunity for professionals in the interior design industy

The inaugural Meet The Buyer event was hosted by the Hilton Kyiv on March 14 in Ukraine. This innovative gathering allowed interior designers and architects from leading manufacturers and suppliers of interior design products to meet and interact in a completely new format for the industry.


The event was attended and overseen by Vanessa Brady, the founder of the Community of British and International Design, Lavinia Engelman, Event Management Manager, and Yulia Danilova and Natalia Bolshakova, Regional Directors of SBID Ukraine. SBID Ukraine believes that such events help to develop the industry, and plan to hold Meet The Buyer annually.


The event organizer, the Community of British and International Design in Ukraine (SBID Ukraine), succeeded in transforming simple networking into a unique event. The event encouraged the presentation of new and innovative products, in an active and productive format, from leading manufacturing companies, designers and architects. The format allowed participants to discover the latest innovations in the industry and exchange contacts with potential partners in areas of interior design, such as engineering, furniture, lighting, wall and floor coverings, automation of living space and others. In addition, Synergy Patent Law Agency, Oakeshott Insurance Group, University of the Arts, presented their products and visions for the future.


NEW OPPORTUNITIES TOGETHER WITH “GET ME 2 THE TOP UKRAINE” 2019

Recently, the results of the national competition for young design students, Get Me 2 The Top Ukraine were announced.


On March 14, 2019 in the Mariinsky Palace in Kiev, the Awarding Ceremony of the 3rd national competition of young designers "Get Me 2 the Top Ukraine" took place. The competition is organized annually by the community of British and international design SBID (The Society of British and International Design) to discover talented students and offer further patronage and support.

“In order for the industry in Ukraine to develop and be competitive globally, we must support and educate a new generation of specialists in this industry. The future of interior design is in the hands of students who really want to learn, gain experience and develop professionally,” say Natalia Bolshakova and Yulia Danilova - Regional Directors SBID Ukraine.


The competition was attended by students and graduates from 21 specialized universities from all over Ukraine and more than 100 design projects were submitted. Forty finalists from 14 universities entered the finals, the main winner being Puchka Ilya, a graduate of the Pridneprovsk State Academy of Construction and Architecture. The winner received the main prize, a 6 month internship at the famous architectural bureau Jestico & Whiles, located in London. Other prizes include trips abroad to the factories of partners Delta Light, Poliform LAB, JUNG, educational courses from the PRO PM School and the University of Art in London, useful gadgets, books and works of art from art historian Igor Abramovich.


New emotions – new ideas! Impressions from Maison & Object exhibition in Paris

An integral part of our team’s development is following the latest trends in the field of interior design and visiting the best exhibitions in the world in search of inspiration and the highest quality materials for our clients. Recently, Maison & Object provided us with a fantastic opportunity, consisting of several days of aesthetic and tactile pleasure!

One of the most memorable events for the Bolshakova Interiors team was breakfast with ELLE Decoration Ukraine, where we were able to gain a deeper insight into the brand philosophy. We experienced at first hand textures of the new collection from Dedar - a brand-manufacturer of fabrics for Hermes.


There were also moments of pure joy, such as a romantic escape from the urbanism of modern Paris to the Elitis showroom with its incredible natural patterns and colours, as well as an opportunity to enjoy miniature works of art with de Gournay!


Maison & Object-2019 became a eye opening and creative interlude, inspiring and hugely productive!


The art of creating a light – presentation Santa & Cole in Kiev

On the 24th January, in the Poliform showroom, the Bolshakova Interiors team attended a presentation given by the Spanish brand Santa & Cole. The Santa & Cole brand was founded in 1985, although many of the ideas influencing the first collections originated in the 60s. For example, in 1962, the designer and co-founder of the brand Miguel saw an image of a ball. He wondered how to use this in his work and, subsequently, the legendary Cesta lamp came into being.

One of the main principles of the company is continuous reassessment and updating . This means many products have been improved and reissued in later collections, making them timeless classics. Nina, Santa & Cole are designers, who carefully select and show the world, not what is being dictated by fashion, but what the creators and their clients really feel is important. The style and composition of artifacts, created by Santa & Cole at the beginning of their creative journey, never become obsolete over time and continue to delight connoisseurs of exclusive design.

SBID UKRAINE: First conference in Ukraine “Interior business and design”

“During the three years of our representation, we have not only learned how to keep track of the current problems of the interior business in our country, but we clearly understand what should be done in order to strengthen its competitiveness in the international arena.”
Natalia Bolshakova, Regional Director SBID Ukraine.

On November 23 in Kiev, the first interior design and business conference in Ukraine, was held at the Hilton Hotel. This event was organized by the Ukrainian representative office of the international organization SBID.


The organization brings together representations from 224,000 of the best design companies around the world. SBID has become a unique communication platform for exchanging knowledge and experience with western colleagues and expanding portfolio knowledge in related fields.

Anna Kravchuk, partner of the patent and law agency Synergy, and Ekaterina Sokolova, co-founder of the brand NOOM, discussed preventive measures for the effective protection of intellectual property rights in industrial and interior design.


A separate panel at the conference dealt with issues of insurance and financial support in the field of interior design and construction, the speakers were Tatiana Babko, director of Oakeshott Insurance Consultants Ltd in Ukraine, founder of Intelcity Leonid Nikolaev, and co-founder of 7CI Group Olga Gavura.


Various aspects of working with developers and presentations of implemented cases were included in presentations by Dmitry Bonesko, creative director of commercial design studio YOD, and SBID founder Vanessa Brady.

LORO PIANA Interiors in Ukraine!

On November 15, in Kiev, we were invited to a groundbreaking event in the world of design, the opening of the Loro Piana Interiors showroom. DOMIO co-founder Julia Danilova and CEO of Loro Piana Interiors brand Pierre Luigi Volonte met the guests. The team from Bolshakova Interiors have worked on the interior of the showroom visually representing the concept of Loro Piana Interiors and bringing this beautiful project to life.

For six generations, Loro Piana has created the best cashmere and woolen fabrics that can surprise and satisfy the most demanding customers. So, in the showroom you can experience not only visual, but tactile pleasure, to feel the touch of the finest merino wool, tender baby cashmere or Peruvian vicuna wool. In this space, the highest quality fabrics combine with elegant interiors and exceptional service.

ELLE Decoration International Design Awards

On November 14 in Kiev, we visited the first international design award - ELLE Decoration International Design Awards. The winners were selected from 13 categories, and the winner was nominated for an international award in Milan, which will be held as part of the main international exhibition Salone del Mobile.

The winners of the competition were determined by an authoritative panel composed of market experts, designers, architects and representatives of the ELLE Decoration editorial board. The selection took place on the basis of the candidates proposals to the panel in each of the nominated categories.


Congratulations to all the winners and good luck in Milan!

Breakfast with Emmanuel Gallino

As part of the opening of the studio Nataly Bolshakova and the flagship show room POLIFORM/VARENNA, the famous designer Emmanuel Gallino visited Ukraine. He shared his experiences of cooperation with large factories, spoke about the history of creating the most successful artifacts and what their popularity was based on .


Also, included in this educational breakfast, Marco Lualdi made a speech. His presentation was related to the history of the development of the Lualdi factory, specializing in the manufacture of doors, and features of its evolution, which is already passing through the fifth generation. The conversation took place in a cozy friendly atmosphere of the showroom POLIFORM/VARENNA.

The companies DOMIO Group and Nataly Bolshakova always strive for development and support it in every possible way. After all, only taking experience from the best and integrating modern developments into their projects can keep them in their position as market leaders.

The Age of Discovery

On October 19th, in the world of interior design, two important events occurred simultaneously. Firstly, the opening of a new studio Nataly Bolshakova Interiors and the flagship showroom POLIFORM / VARENNA. Secondly, the launch of one of the world’s most famous glossy publications – ELLE Decoration Ukraine.

Many guests, including representatives of the creative and political elite, well known media personalities and, of course, famous designers, gathered together at an event to celebrate the launch of the showrooms and the magazine. All had an opportunity to talk with creators of the new spaces Natalia Bolshakova and Julia Danilova, the editor in chief of ELLE Ukraine Sonya Zabuga, the designer of POLIFORM/VARENNA brand Emmaluel Gallina and enjoy the exquisite atmosphere in the new interior hotspot in the capital.