Everything that surrounds us is designed by people, from notebooks to cars. For humanity to one day achieve the global goals of sustainable development, to move into closed-loop economies, designers around the world must acquire progressive knowledge and skills of the highest level. When it comes to Ukraine, we need to make a real “quantum leap” in design, and start, first of all, with education, explains Olena Dobrorodneva, Organizational Development Director at UFuture, Vice President at Vasyl Khmelnytsky’s K.FUND and leader of European Design Upgrade.

European Design Upgrade – an ambitious project designed to develop creative industries, support talented designers, artists and technologists – was held in Ukraine for the second time. 80 Ukrainian designers in two cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, completed an updated interdisciplinary course developed in collaboration with leading trainers from Belgium, Ukraine and Finland.

Within the course participants:

  • listened to lectures by Ukrainian, Belgian and Finnish lecturers;
  • had the opportunity to visit creative laboratories of designers and practice new skills;
  • visited NEST Hub at UNIT.City in Kyiv, where they got acquainted with successful Ukrainian design startups, including S.Lab, effa, Neverdark;
  • developed their own European level creative idea;
  • passed hackathons and presented their ideas to the business environment;
  • received valuable networking, contacts, and support from mentors.
“My main insight after the second European Design Upgrade is that young Ukrainian design students have incredible potential and are progressing very quickly. If at the beginning of the program they came to us, not clearly understanding what sustainable design and circular economy is, they came out of it with projects focused on SDG goals, developed on a business canvas. We are very inspired by their growth and the quality of projects. We will continue to cooperate with some participants, help them in the development of their concepts, prototyping and finding partners,” said Elena Dobrorodneva.

Mentors of EDU 2.0: innovative designer Dasha Tsapenko, architect Olena Orap, graphic designer Dasha Podoltseva, lecturer at the Department of Design and Advertising, National Pedagogical Dragomanov University’s Faculty of History and Philosophy, and the head of the Design Department at the Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University’s Institute of Arts Lilia Derman, artists and founders of their own brand sisters Alina Gaieva and Karina Gaieva, author of creative architectural desserts Dinara Kasko and parametric design specialist, mentor at Kharkiv School of Architecture Andriy Pavlov.

Participants’ projects

  • creation of a virtual local friend who communicates with teenagers through social networks and expands their worldview;
  • development and creation of a collection of lamps made from biomaterials and secondary raw materials;
  • augmented reality prints on clothes with images of animals from the The Red Data Book of Ukraine;
  • art collection of clothes to help understanding between people and draw attention to psycho-emotional states;
  • tubes that generate electricity;
  • sludge biofuels;
  • a network of urban cultural centers for the elderly;
  • holograms exhibition of NFT artists;
  • transformation of Starobilsk town walls into art objects;
  • creation of furniture and interior items from secondary raw materials;
  • unisex clothing-transformer;
  • T-shirts-posters with animals on the verge of extinction;
  • organic glue from jellyfish to restore the ecosystem.

What’s next

In the future, the course will be finalized with Ukrainian and foreign teachers and offered for implementation in Ukrainian educational institutions.

“We have made a pilot project, received very positive feedback and are ready to turn it into a larger story. This year our course was attended by several teachers of Ukrainian design universities. They are ready to cooperate with us to develop several relevant training courses for students of Ukrainian design universities on the basis of the project,” Olena Dobrorodneva said.

The Kharkiv Academy of Design and Arts, the Kyiv State Institute of Applied Arts and Design named after Mychailo Boichuk, Faculty of Economics, Taras Shevchenko National University’s Faculty of Economics, National Pedagogical Dragomanov University, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University’s Institute of Arts, Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts’ Faculty of Design and Advertising, as well as teachers who passed the program together with other participants.

European Design Upgrade is implemented in partnership with the Vasyl Khmelnytsky Foundation K.FUND, the public organization GoLOCAL and innovation and technology hubs Brussels Creative in Belgium and Urban Mill in Finland, with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, UNIT.City innovation parks in Kyiv and Kharkiv.