Agency Insights: Between the Walls

An in-depth interview with the Ukrainian interior design firm Between the Walls. Their story unfolds in the face of many challenges, with the aftermath of war igniting creative solutions and new perspectives.

Almost two years after the invasion of Ukraine, we had the privilege of interviewing the founders of Ukrainian interior design firm Between the Walls, Andrii Anisimov and Victoria Karieva. Between the Walls joined the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) in 2022, embarking on a quest for work and knowledge to contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine.

In our publication Dd Yearbook ’22, we explored their narrative in an extensive feature titled ‘The war has made us visible’. As we reconvene with Between the Walls for this interview, our focus shifts towards the future. How have they navigated through these challenging times? And what does the landscape look like for them two years after venturing beyond their native borders?

First of all: how are you doing?  

Victoria: “Glad to finally meet! It seems like we might never find solace until the very end. Every day is filled with unsettling news or the harrowing sound of missiles hitting nearby streets. Despite these challenges, we continue with our daily routine — having breakfast, preparing for the day, and heading to work. This has become our new normal, and we are determined not to grow accustomed to it. We go all out to secure our victory.

“The war has become our new normal, and we are determined not to grow accustomed to it.”

–  Victoria Karieva, co-founder Between the Walls

How has the ongoing war impacted the day-to-day operations?  

Andrii: The war had a big impact on our firm, as we were in the early stages of rebuilding our business post-pandemic, and we faced challenges that were beyond anything we could have anticipated. Initially, our attention shifted away from design and architecture as we prioritized supporting our team and ensuring stability, leveraging our financial reserves. 

When we decided it was time to get back to work, the urgent need was to find new clients. We utilized various communication channels, reaching out to extended networks and promoting our studio across LinkedIn.

For the past two years, our main focus has been to stay afloat. We acted intuitively, without a prescribed plan and goals. Reflecting on our journey, our greatest accomplishment lies in our enhanced adaptability, resilience, and heightened focus on our team members.”

How do you ensure the well-being and morale of your team members? 

Andrii: “The team remains our utmost priority. We strive to foster a culture of camaraderie akin to a familial bond, supporting one another through thick and thin. One of our team members volunteered for frontline duty, and we make every effort to fulfill any requirements to assist them, recognizing the honor of collaborating with such courageous individuals.”

Photo: Team Between the Walls | Photography: Roman Pashkovskiy

Can you share recent instances where the challenges posed by war fueled innovative design solutions?

Victoria: “The impact of war on design innovation is profound and multifaceted. While the circumstances of conflict are undeniably challenging, they also serve as catalysts for creativity and ingenuity. One notable instance is the development of modular housing units designed specifically for displaced populations in conflict zones. These structures are engineered to be rapidly deployable, cost-effective, and resilient to harsh environmental conditions, providing temporary shelter and safety to those affected by war.

Image: Microhome, Dilove | Design: Between the Walls

Particularly, the Microhome project was created in April 2022 during the most challenging times of our country. We drew inspiration from the resilience of our people and sought to create a solution that not only addresses immediate needs for refugees but also holds long-term potential.

Our design ethos was influenced by both our Soviet past and modernist architectural principles, blending practicality with innovation. This micro-house represents more than just a shelter; it symbolizes hope, transformation, and the enduring spirit of our nation. Additionally we are proud to say that this project has received recognition among various awards, like Architectural Materprize and IDA.” 

Image: Microhome, Dilove | Design: Between the Walls

What are the relevant sources of inspiration for you?

Andrii: “People are an important source of inspiration for us. We believe that interior design is not just a matter of style, but a reflection of the unique personality and story of each individual. Drawing inspiration from modern art, we infuse our designs with contemporary elements, encouraging our customers to embark on their own creative journeys.

How has the exposure to diverse design perspectives contributed to the growth of Between the Walls these past two years?

Victoria: “Meeting the international market is about broadening your outlook, the opportunity to integrate new inspiration and innovative design solutions into your projects. 

During the full-scale war, our collaboration with European designers and architects intensified significantly. The outpouring of support from many individuals following February 24, 2022, proved to be a lifeline for our business, providing essential financial stability and opening doors to new opportunities. We are immensely grateful for this support.

We are also thrilled to announce the successful completion of a project in Europe, with two upcoming projects in Paris and Prague on the horizon. These achievements not only showcase our capabilities but also signify a significant expansion of our network. Currently, we are in negotiations with partners from other European countries, and we are hopeful that these endeavors will bring more customers our way.

Despite the ongoing challenges, we remain dedicated to our work and are committed to pushing forward. Our resolve is unwavering as we continue to navigate through these trying times and strive for success in our endeavors.

“Each day is a struggle for the promise of a brighter tomorrow.”

– Victoria Karieva, co-founder Between the Walls

In what ways can the design community support Between the Walls and other businesses affected by the war in Ukraine?

Victoria: Undoubtedly, financial aid is paramount in supporting our country during these challenging times. This encompasses fundraising efforts aimed at the restoration of damaged infrastructure and the procurement of essential equipment.

Furthermore, the design community has a pivotal role to play in fostering international partnerships and collaborations between Ukrainian enterprises and counterparts abroad. Such initiatives can facilitate market expansion, attract fresh clientele and investment, and foster the exchange of ideas and sustainable resources.

We are deeply appreciative of all forms of assistance extended to us and maintain unwavering faith in our eventual triumph in this war.

Photo: CUT Bistro, Paris | Design: Between the Walls | Photographer: Kateryna Zolotukhina

Looking ahead, what are the firm’s aspirations for the future? 

Victoria: The firms inspiration for the future is definitely thoughts about victory and the opportunity to breathe fully. While the war has brought international attention to Ukraine, uncertainty about what lies ahead pervades our daily existence. Each day is a struggle for the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

Andrii: Nevertheless, we hold steadfast in the belief that post-victory, we will have the opportunity to unleash our creativity and undertake ambitious projects on a global scale.