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Ukrainian Architectural Studio’s Contemporary Apartment “Roots” Showcases National Identity

Project name:
Architecture firm:
ISTO - https://isto.ua/
Tools used:
Autodesk 3ds Max
Principal architect:
Bogdan Kostelnyi
Design team:
Bogdan Kostelnyi - Head of Architects; Kateryna Volokh - Designer
Built area:
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Concept - Design
Residential › Apartment

Architecture and Design Studio, ISTO, presents “Roots” - a contemporary apartment embodying the Ukrainian heritage. Every nation in the world is entangled by the historical threads of its roots. Our roots distinguish us from others, forming a uniqueness in our identity. Wherever life takes you in the world, your roots will always ground you.

It’s this belief that inspired ISTO’s groundbreaking “Roots”, a conceptual apartment the central idea of which is based on people and crafts that have shaped the world for centuries.

Bogdan Kostelnyi, Head of Architects, and designer Kateryna Volokh, delved deep into their Ukrainian roots, researching the history of their ancestors. Inspired by findings, they depicted authentic symbols, industries, names in the interior and defined the Ukrainian nation as people who played a significant part in world history.

Bogdan Kostelnyi explained:

“Many people don’t truly understand their country’s heritage and have no idea about the colossal stratum, which is layered over centuries. Knowledge of world history is essential to helping us see the value of art and its creators. I want to show the world that Ukraine is a cluster of inventors, great cultural and scientific achievements, which are used worldwide today."

Embracing Ukraine’s natural resources

In the apartment’s futuristic bedroom, a black rock structure reminiscent texture of coal creates an unusual backdrop to the bed. Ukraine’s 34.4 billion ton coal reserve is the biggest in Europe, providing one of the country’s most valuable industries.

In the bathroom, stunning abstract shapes framing the sink represent manganese and copper ores, while a stone block behind the bath resembles salt crystals. Ukraine preserves a leading position in the deposits of these minerals in the Ukrainian Donbas and in the South part of the country.

Technologies that changed the world

The unusual focal point in the center of the dressing room is a vast rocket engine, symbolizing the birth of practical cosmonautics by the Ukrainian scientist and engineer, Serhii Korolev.

Above the dining table in the living room is a chandelier inspired by the invention of “electricity used for the movement of railway trains with current supply" by Ukrainian engineer Fedir Pirotskyi. A year after this invention, according to the scheme of the scientist, the first tram was launched in Berlin.

Observing cultural heritage through art

Playing with audio as well as visual, the “Carol of the Bells” rings out from a vinyl record player in the bedroom. The creator of the song is the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych, who wrote the music for the world New Year's symbol.

An analog of painted earthenware from ancient Trypillian culture embellishes the apartment’s unique curved living room wall. The Cucuteni–Trypillia was a settled society that lived on the territory of Ukraine, famed for the production of clay and beautiful ceramics ornaments.

Lastly, the wall and floor in the dining area are covered in wool, representing the origins of the ancient industry of Ukrainian sheep breeding. Wool is the most valuable sheep product, used to manufacture traditional clothing such as Hutsul wool coat and Keptar sleeveless coat, as well as carpets and blankets.

In today's rapidly evolving and dynamic world, the “Roots” apartment serves as a reminder to step back, appreciate your self-identity and remember where your roots stem from.


ISTO is a Ukrainian full-cycle design and architecture studio. Behind the company are four creators: Volodymyr Tykhonchyk, Sergii Markaryan, Maksym Popovych, and Sergii Bykov. Growing from 2013, the studio has created 160+ objects and has two offices - in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Dubai, UAE. The team has focused on comprehensive implementation for residential and commercial projects worldwide, passionately seeking out perfect and individual solutions for its clients.

By Liliana Alvarez

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