Enchanted furnishings that spring to life and begin to talk are normally associated with the amiable candelabra and fine bone-china tea set that become Belle’s confidantes in Disney’s adaptation of the French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. But Kiev-based design brand Faina has put a new spin on the idea and released a collection of audio bedtime stories based on its minimal monochromatic designs, written in collaboration with award-winning children’s author Ivan Andrusiak.
The modern tales, designed to offer a soothing escape from the anxiety of social isolation, are populated by characters such as pillowy sofas, sculptural vases, chairs and lamps, whose emotions and vicissitudes were inspired by Ukrainian folklore.
“I always consider our design objects as having their own character,” says Faina founder Victoria Yakusha, whose earthy Terracotta furniture set was exhibited in the Bespoke section at this year’s Collectible design fair in Brussels. “We named our sofa Pampukh, which means ‘a fluffy bun’ in Ukrainian; this muffin-like sofa saves a girl's life, while our Bandura vase, named after a folk musical instrument, is magically transformed and helps the heroes escape from prison.”
Faina’s first three short stories last about five minutes and were released on Soundcloud in Ukrainian and English – read by London-based design writer Laura Snoad – but translations into Spanish, French and Portuguese are in the works. Just like children’s stories, they are narrated as cautionary anecdotes that impart lessons on “love, harmony with nature, honesty and bravery”.
"Ukrainian folklore stories have that ancestral voice of wisdom that has always been a trove of timeless values,” says Yakusha. “In a period of such breakneck changes, I find it is important to stop and listen to something familiar and kind.”