Sisters Maria and Ekaterina Yaschuk work together in a South London studio, designing and creating stunning LED and crystal encrusted wallpapers and fabrics for their company Meystyle. They do everything in house, from the initial concepts and hand drawn designs to the printing, additional hand painting, and application of tiny lights and crystals.
Their designs grace the walls and ceilings of cinemas, offices, hotels, and private homes. Every product is made to measure, and they assure me that a design never repeats itself. Even the most regular, geometric patterns vary in shade or color from one section to the next.
Name/ Location: Maria Yaschuk and Ekaterina Yaschuk/ London, UK
Where did you grow up? We were born in Moscow, Russia, but our family moved to Oslo, in Norway, when Maria was nine and I was six.
Where did you study/ train? Maria moved to London at 18 to study surface design at the London College of Printing, then studied for an MA in textile futures at Central St Martins. When I turned 18, I followed her to London and did a BA in theater design and then an MA in creative practice for narrative environments, both at St Martins.
What was the first thing you made and sold? Maria made the first prototype of LED wallpaper (see top picture) for her MA show. She was torn between doing wallpaper or lighting and I said to her jokingly, "Why don't you just put lights in the wallpaper." So she did. I helped her make it — we've always collaborated on projects — and a lady who was designing new offices in Canary Wharf saw her work at the show and placed a large order.
Who is your design idol? We really don't have one. We admire lots of different designs, but we don't really buy wholeheartedly into one designer. We both love Kraftwerk though. We are Kraftwerk groupies! We go to every concert. It is always the same and we always love it equally. We both like electronic music with visuals.
Where do you find inspiration? Our collections always start with a concept. The most recent collection, Abyss, was inspired by the British occultist Aleister Crowley. It is about drawing you deeper and deeper into a design to create a trance-like state between sleeping and waking, where you momentarily find yourself elsewhere. We would never say "Let's do a red collection, or let's do florals." There has to be a linking idea behind it, a journey or a story, which brings together apparently disparate designs. We want our designs to have a depth and a movement to them. The lights and crystals are there not to make the product more glitzy or more bling, they create texture and movement. We are working on increasing that effect by adding lights on near invisible threads to create a constant movement of light and shadow across the surface.
What's one thing you wish you had made or designed? We have always wanted to make animated walls that have a life of their own. We are currently working with two physicists on creating a wall that can self sustain and move. We are trying to recreate the idea of a glowing jellyfish moving underwater. It is not always easy communicating with them, because we think in pictures and they think in numbers.
What's your advice for a designer/ maker just starting out? Find your talents and your passions and play to them. Do what is interesting to you. We are crazy about movement. We hate the idea of a flat, static piece of paper. Working towards that keeps us inspired. Don't take it too seriously, and don't get hung up on a single design. Keep going. It's not the one and only thing you'll ever make.
To see more of Maria and Ekaterina's work, check out their website: Meystyle