Architect Sergey Makhno’s Kiev home is an imaginative fusion of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi with his Ukrainian design heritage
Architect Sergey Makhno’s Kiev home fuses the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi with his Ukrainian design heritage
You’d think it would be easy for an architect to design
a home for his own family,’ says Sergey Makhno. ‘But no! It’s very complicated. You feel a big responsibility creating a space for those closest to you.’ In his native Ukraine, Sergey is known as the leading exponent of wabi- sabi, a Japanese philosophy that celebrates imperfection, natural materials and the marriage of old and new. It’s not surprising that he was nervous about applying this approach in his Kiev apartment: it’s on the 16th and 17th floors of a modern block, which had to be expanded at the perimeter to accommodate his vision. But as it turns out, the combination of wabi-sabi’s raw beauty with the urban architecture, looking out over the city, is magical.
Sergey shares the three-bedroom flat with his wife Vlada, an interior decorator, and their two sons. His starting point for the decor was a desire to combine his Ukrainian heritage – which is all about bright colours – with his love of quieter Japanese style. Quite a challenge, you might think, but Sergey pulled it off by teaming folksy details with an understated, nature-inspired backdrop. ‘My husband experiments in every one of our apartments,’ explains Vlada. ‘The craziest ideas, we try on ourselves!’
Sergey is a passionate collector of ancient ceramics and contemporary art: he chose artworks with a handmade or distressed look that blend beautifully with the rough clay walls in the space. In addition, both he and Vlada love floristry, and in particular the Japanese art of ikebana, which involves arranging plants and flowers to imitate the living beauty of nature. One such display is situated next to the staircase, where stems are displayed in a vase made from the wreckage of an old house.
Most of the furniture in the apartment is made of natural materials such as wood, iron, copper and ceramic – Sergey designed it all himself, along with the wooden beams that line the ceiling. The glass-walled bathroom is the one area that feels slicker – although here, too, there is a wabi-sabi element in the form of a sink made out of an ancient wooden vessel.
The family have been living in the apartment for six months – has their decorating experiment been a success? ‘I can say with modesty that it has,’ says Sergey. ‘It shows that Japanese and Ukrainian culture can co-exist in harmony, demonstrating beauty in simplicity.’ mahno.com.ua
Living room For a similar ochre paint shade to these walls, try ‘Caddie’ by Paint & Paper Library. The sofa is a custom-made design, as is the coffee table. On the wall is an artwork entitled Fragility by Kiev artist Roman Mikhaylov. The ceramic sculpture
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Main bedroom The ash bed and bedside tables were designed by the homeowner, Sergey Makhno, and the pendant lamps suspended above the bed are from his ‘Lacuna’ collection (the ‘Caravaggio’ lamp by Cecilie Manz for Lightyears, available at Skandium, has a s
Stockist details on p202