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Profile: VVOVVA

‘I believe that all humans are creative from birth, no matter which profession they choose, and through different experiences in life we’ve had our unique visions supported or suppressed. And sometimes, when we choose a creative path, we make choices that seem safe and comfortable even if they’re not enjoyable or satisfying. Not only is VVOVVA a project in search of those who have the drive to create, but it’s also about helping creative people break out of their comfort zones. In its simplest form, this project is about people who have the passion to design and to create, and our mission is to help them do it with less obstructions.’

— Ksenia Nunis, founder, VVOVVA

For those with the passion to create and those who appreciate visual beauty, VVOVVA is here.

The latest project by curator and entrepreneur, Ksenia Nunis, VVOVVA is a new design incubator and platform where designers and their talents are actively nurtured, regardless of prior experience or reputation. Nunis believes that an object’s intrinsic beauty and allure can determine its cultural and market value. In today’s aesthetic economy where brand, hype and sales figures dominate decisions for designer promotion and representation, VVOVVA brings the focus back to the object.

Nunis’ desire to nurture and promote design talent arose from her own experiences in the creative economy. A graduate of fashion design from Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and graphic design from Moscow State University, it was her initial exposure to the art world in Moscow and her experience of seeing the struggles of her fellow designers and artists that caused her to question the existing system of artistic patronage and representation. 

She thought that the gallery system, where the value of art and design is oftentimes determined less by the object itself and more by the object-external properties of creator reputation, exhibition history, and pedigree, was killing creative opportunities and denying the world the pleasures created by ‘unknown talent. This aversion to risk-taking and reliance on reputation (show me your value to others so that I may value you), led to her belief that the only requirement for representation should be the object itself, regardless of the designer’s age and credentials.

Prior to VVOVVA, Nunis took the idea of object-first promotion and applied it in her native city of Moscow where for six years she curated and operated Depst, an online and offline space that displayed and sold a wide-ranging selection of beautiful objects by emerging designers. 

By taking a risk in a Russian market that traditionally skews toward established names and brands, she showed that there was an audience for a unique, ‘un-sanctified’ aesthetic offering based on her on-point curatorial decisions and nurturing of talent. Depst grew from an online experiment into a brick and mortar shop, exhibition space and hang-out spot that was featured in Louis Vuitton’s City Guide to Moscow and profiled in a number of cultural guides in Russia.

Nunis is expanding her concept of nurturing and promoting unsung design talent to an international community with VVOVVA. ‘It is important for me to lift VVOVVA to an international scene, because the last thing I want to do is to divide or limit people by nationality, religion, age, etc. All of us already have enough wars, jealousy, cruelty and fear,’ says Nunis. VVOVVA, which in Russian is a generic placeholder name similar to the anglophone ‘Bob’, is a hybrid space of the gallery that promotes the singular and unique aesthetic object and the commercial shop that offers the mass-produced object. 

For her, there is no difference between the mass-produced and the singular as long as the object itself is compelling. And unlike the traditional gallery and shop, there are no barriers to entry such as reputation or production capacity. All those who have the power to create can prove themselves with passion and vision and Nunis also envisions working with designers to offer limited edition collections that will be more like experimental explorations and less like exercises in creating market appeal.

VVOVVA recognizes that the post-design work of production and marketing is a necessary aspect of being a successful designer. These tasks are usually required of the designers themselves, who have neither the familiarity nor the mental energy to deal with the intricacies of running a business, and the headaches of these processes can potentially hinder and destroy creative productivity. In this age-old struggle to reconcile the artistic with the business, VVOVVA’s position is: let the designer design. In addition to providing a platform for emerging talent, VVOVVA assists designers in fine-tuning production and presentation techniques and in negotiating the complexities of online commerce, facilitating the connection between those who create and those who value their creations.

Text: Linda Lee.