Ukrainian design comes to New York

Discover Ukrainian design with the Ukrainian Creators Fair at Skylight at Essex Crossing, New York

Model wears headdress, part of Ukrainian Creators Fair 2023, New York
A piece by Olena Mityrina, among exhibitors at Ukrainian Creators Fair
(Image credit: Photography: ; Andrew Grey, Ukrainian Creators Fair)

The best of Ukrainian design will be united under one roof at the Ukrainian Creators Fair this week (24 – 26 March 2024) in New York, showcasing over 100 Ukrainian creators’ cultural, tech, and fashion projects. 

Dubbed ‘i am u are’, the platform, encompassing an exhibition and comprehensive programme, is the brainchild of CEO of Gogola agency, Anna Pagava, and Kristina Skripka, a hospitality expert from Ukraine. ‘I’ve been living in the US for over four years. When the full-scale invasion of Ukraine broke out, the array of Ukraine-related events started appearing all over the world, which created an incredible wave of support for Ukraine,’  says Pagava. ‘However, it seemed to me that none of the events showed the modern Ukraine we know to the full extent. I felt the urge to create something else – different scale, different idea. I knew that this was my chance to show Ukraine to the world the way we know it: creative, unconventional, a worthy equal to all of the countries in the world. Due to my PR background, I understood that now is the time to speak up and show Ukraine from the best side possible, as people are listening.’

Ukrainian Creators Fair: ‘i am u are’

Model wears jewellery by Nomis, among exhibitors at Ukrainian Creators Fair


(Image credit: Ukrainian Creators Fair)

Pagava continues, ‘My main inclination was to stray away from the regular pop-up or charity – which are an amazing representation, but would not fulfill my goal – and create a fresh format that would allow us to go deeper in meaning. At that time, I started searching for like-minded people: partners and team. Everything started shaping up when we partnered with Kris [Skripka], as she was in touch with exactly the people we needed for the project: artists, creators and visionaries. I had my Gogola team ready to work on the project 24/7. And when this came together, it became the starting point of the project, and the first building brick of the team of more than 30 people which is now the cornerstone for what we call “i am u are”.’ 

Triptych Essence, among exhibits at Ukrainian Creators Fair

Triptych Essence

(Image credit: Photography: Andrew Grey, Ukrainian Creators Fair)

For Skripka, technology was a key focus. ‘I strongly believe that the future lies in talent and technology, so the categories for the projects were chosen pretty naturally, and Fashion, Tech & Culture became the three pillars of ‘i am u are’,’ she says. ‘Ukrainian creators are cool, edgy and have no fear of risk. They’re bringing modern solutions with a strong Ukrainian DNA, based on the thousands years of our history, to the international audience. Through these outstanding practices, we’re communicating about our background, young talents, and the future that we are creating together. We have a strong team working on the event – each one of them is the true leader of their segment: Masha Reva undertook fashion direction and product design; Nadiia Shapoval is in charge of the ethnological department and craft; Форма (Forma) oversees design and furniture. The intersection of their experiences and expertise is the success behind working with brands as a whole.

woman wearing chain necklace, among exhibits at Ukrainian Creators Fair


(Image credit: Photography: Pavel Buryak, Ukrainian Creators Fair)

‘Over the past six months, we’ve had hundreds of calls with brand representatives, and to be honest, their moral state has been fluctuating in sync with the course of the war. The circumstances deteriorated, the light disappeared; it seemed like people were giving up at some point, but we are here for moments like these – to support and show them the perspective that we see and that certainly awaits them. And at other times, we, like every Ukrainian, get tired ourselves. But then a video comes from a vendor who makes a new vase or weaves a carpet in complete darkness by candles only – and you immediately feel the strength to keep going.’

iamuare, the Ukrainian Creators Fair, will take place on 24 – 26 March 2023 at Skylight at Essex Crossing while there is also a pop-up at the Ukrainian Museum from 23– 28 March.

Bioniv hand, among exhibits at Ukrainian Creators Fair

Esper Bionics

(Image credit: Photography: Andrew Grey, Ukrainian Creators Fair)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.