On Life and Practice, In conversation with Ar. Rina Lovko
"In this insightful interview, we delved into the early life and creative beginnings of the Rina Lovko, tracing their journey from childhood dreams of interior design to the establishment of their successful studio.
The interview provided a glimpse into the philosophy of her studio emphasizing the importance of meaningful projects and collaborative team dynamics. Sustainability was highlighted, inspired by their travels, particularly a transformative experience in the Himalayas. We also discussed the challenges and successes of the 'The Coat' project's transformation from residential to retail."- Editor
1. Could you tell us a bit about your background, initial days and how the studio was formed?
At the age of five, I decided that I would become an interior designer. I remember when I went to bed and couldn't sleep, I would imagine what kind of renovation I could do in my room. At the age of 11, I made such a renovation: my mother and I went to the wallpaper market and I chose yellow and orange wallpaper. The windows of my room faced south. It was the smallest and best room in our apartment in Kyiv, where all the other windows faced north.
I got my craving for rearrangements from my mother, who always liked to change everything, hang it up, decorate it. Dad also had artistic inclinations - I saw his drawings in an army album. Although no one in our large family, or in our environment in general, had creative professions.
2. Any notable interior design projects during those days that helped you set the foundation for the studio that is today?
I can't single out any one project because every project is like a relationship. Is there any point in wasting time on a meaningless relationship that will give you nothing and teach you nothing? The global meaning for me is to create. To create spaces where people will enjoy themselves, to do projects that will leave a mark.
I used to be jealous of projects. I cherished them like my children and wanted to live in each of them. It was hard to accept the fact that the client would add something of their own.
Everything changed when I opened my studio. Now I don't work alone, and each of our interiors is not just a reflection of me. Each of my team members is a separate person with their own character, which they convey in our projects. We influence each other. And there are two ways to do this - either to suppress employees and promote only your vision, or to let them manifest themselves, if this, of course, is in line with the philosophy of our studio.
3. Over a decade into practice, your portfolio of work has become somewhat of a trademark with attention to detail and the quality of materials. How do you ensure that these factors are achieved during the execution of your projects?
We believe that each project we develop has its unique story, and the language of design can express it. The spaces and buildings have their individuality and original aesthetics, which are essential to define in the dialogue with the customer, to complement and to share them with the world. That is why Rina Lovko Studio's interior projects are created exclusively by prior order and for a particular client.
Academic interiors that are made "by the book" - with contrast, halftone, accent, dominant - are correct, but incredibly boring. I work outside these rules.
4. Could you walk us through your approach to selecting materials? Any go to's or all time favourites?
In my projects, I combine all natural colours that harmonise well with each other, if you keep the tonality. For example, you add grey pigment to one colour or dilute it with white. So, you need to keep the other colour in the same tone, adding grey or white to it.
Sometimes I feel cramped in monochrome. Colour gives you more freedom for creativity
Now we have moved away from colour and are creating monochrome interiors. I am interested in changing, trying new materials, finding new solutions. Although sometimes I feel cramped in monochrome. But it has its own moments: a complex game with textures, selection of materials and combinations. For example, you want to do everything in beige. And then it turns out that one beige fabric is one shade, and another fabric is another. These shades don't go together, and you need 30 elements in the interior, and they all need to be combined in halftones. It's easier to work with colour - there is more freedom for creativity.
5. With sustainability becoming almost a mandatory requirement for projects, how does your studio approach sustainability in its design process? What specific strategies and measures do you employ to minimize the environmental impact of your projects?
Travelling has influenced every project I've done. Not specific images and colours, but realisations that came to me during my travels. I think about work all the time, and my brain is on wherever I go. The Blue Terracotta interior was created after I returned from India.
The Himalayas are a must-see destination for a designer, and for any other person. A trip there divided my world into "before" and "after". No architecture can compare to this. A person cannot build a building that is 8 kilometres high. But nature can. Looking at the mountains, you realise how powerful our planet is. After this realisation, you start to feel better about yourself and the importance of your own work.
6. Let's talk about the design process behind the project 'The Coat'. What challenges did you face while retrofitting the space from a residential to retail typology?
The focus of the team's interest is the implementation of bespoke projects in industrial design, environmental design, and residential architecture. The portfolio of Rina Lovko Studio includes interiors of different types and complexity: private apartments and houses, offices and commercial spaces, food-retail establishments, and health care facilities. Photographic and art projects are other vectors of creative exploration for architects and studio designers.
Each project is unique, so we have a lot of "stories" to share. The key principle of The COAT, which is embodied in the creative search, business model and self-positioning, can be described as "less is more": the brand professes the philosophy of conscious consumption, prefers quality and originality of ideas to quantity: currently, the collection items are made only upon pre-orders.
The COAT by Katya Silchenko showroom is located in the centre of the capital. The space has been operating for several years. The showroom has its own history and many memories attached to it, but the existing floor plan did not allow it to use its full potential. The commercial space, located on the ground floor of a brick building, used to be a residential property. The usual attributes of high-rise buildings - low ceilings and standard windows - seemed to leave few opportunities to make the space bright and breathe an atmosphere of lightness and airiness into it. By enlarging the windows and doors, we managed to achieve the effect of raising the ceiling. After the changes, the space began to "breathe", filled with light, and was perceived as much higher and more airy. In order not to take away critical centimetres from the height of the rooms, it was decided to place the air conditioning and ventilation systems in the area above the main wardrobe.
Several non-trivial lighting scenarios were implemented in the renovated space of The COAT. It is typical for exhibition halls and commercial premises to use track lighting systems, but given the low ceiling, we abandoned this type of lighting in favour of recessed Wall Washer luminaires with a high colour rendering index - this is crucial for the correct presentation of shades and textures of fabrics.
I believe that work of this level, if you pay attention to the details, is a very high level of implementation. And I can't even remember anything close to that.
7. How has the response of the users, be it customers or store owners, been towards the completed studio?
For me, the best indicator of the effectiveness of our studio's work is the fact that our customers become our friends, with whom we continue to cooperate many times over. For example, after we designed and implemented a showroom for Ruslan Baginskiy, we received an order from them to design their head office in the historical part of Kyiv and to develop design projects for the apartments of the company's employees. All of these projects later won awards at international competitions.
A: Rina Lovko