• One visionary’s journey from ambition to achievement

    With a robust background in furniture manufacture and a bold vision for the future, Dmytro Zanko embarked on a mission to propel Ukrainian furniture design to the worldwide stage, through the creation of Diza Collective.

    Now part of Ukrainian Product Design, the company originated as a platform to showcase established and emerging Ukrainian design talent. His primary focus was to produce iconic design pieces that could stand the test of time and acquire global recognition at an accessible price point. The inspiring journey of Diza Collective is a testament to resilience, vision, and bravery hand-in-hand with powerful collaboration.

  • Ironically it was amidst the chaos of war, when everything came to a standstill, that the seeds of Diza Collective were sown. With many designers sidelined and uncertainty looming, people were focusing largely on survival during turbulent times. 

‘It was a time when nobody knew what to do, go abroad or stay in Ukraine and there was no work for anyone’.

  • The political and social climate provided a unique, yet challenging, opportunity to refocus, one which he seized in the moment. Drawing from extensive industry experience, Dmytro leveraged his connections, collaborating with industry experts, including many award-winning esteemed designers. His long-held ambition to showcase Ukrainian design prowess began. Celebrating the cream of national talent, he had ambitions to emulate the world-renowned Parisian company Roche Bobois, who embrace the best of French style and Art de Virve. Despite the challenges imposed by war, he remained undeterred.

  • His background as the co-founder of Kitass, a leading furniture manufacturer in Ukraine, provided valuable experience in the world of manufacture, export and production, which together with design expertise and industry knowledge are the key drivers to his entrepreneurial success. Kitass are leading B2B furniture manufacturer in the hospitality market (widely referred to as HoReCa in Ukraine and parts of Europe), making hand-made furniture for hotels, restaurants and bars as well as well-known brands in Europe. Understanding this challenging dynamic between business sales, technical production and innovative design provided him with the tools to succeed.

‘A manufacturer must understand design, technology, sales and trends’.  

Dmytro Zanko

  • To realise his vision with a team of talented designers, Dmytro had to first focus on keeping the factory operational. His quick thinking, ability to rise to the challenge and willingness to take risks enabled him to survive at a time when other manufacturing and design projects ground to a halt. The pivotal moment came when he was presented with a make-or-break opportunity by a hotelier in Oslo, who had sourced him through an earlier exhibition. Tasked with producing 50 different units in a very short timescale, he had only one hour to assess the scale of the project, the labour involved, and the production capacity.  At a time when there was no electricity, the exchange of money was difficult and the nation was ‘locked down’ at home, it was a huge gamble. Despite the risks, Dmytro acted fast, quickly realising the order could save the factory from closure. Marshalling resources and ingenuity, he set about implementing strategies to produce and complete the order.

  • Navigating logistical hurdles and financial constraints imposed by the political situation was a constant battle. Transferring money to the Ukraine was a risk but so too was travelling there in person. Client-supplied fabric made the design stage tricky since it was hard to visualise how the fabric would respond. With the absence of national electricity, the plant employed generators to power the factory. Dmytro acquired a hostel to house the staff, who worked tirelessly to fulfil the order. Aside from keeping the business going, his positive attitude helped many families during difficult times, providing a crucial source of income in addition to a welcome distraction and day-to-day purpose, for which he takes great pride.  Delivering beyond expectations, this initial triumph set the stage for Diza Collective's inspirational journey.

  • Securing more and more projects and large-scale commercial contracts across Europe, Dmytro persevered with his mission. Drawing on his previous experience, he consistently expanded his reach. Using only photographs or primitive sketches, he was able to take the client’s vision from conception to creation and deliver on time.

  • With orders keeping the factory operational, Diza Collective’s talented team of designers could focus on creating the first of their iconic pieces for international export. Little by little, the ideas spawned as they submitted their earliest drawings, forged bonds and established a solid foundation of trust.  After the first year, having navigated many obstacles, the first 30 designs for Diza Collective were ready to be unleashed on the global stage.

  • Taking part in numerous exhibitions across Europe, the company worked its way up to successively prominent venues, to propel the business forward. Its first exhibition took place in Oslo in 2022, during the war, at the Chamber of Commerce for Ukraine where many designs were showcased and sold. Despite the risks involved in transferring money, buyers were excitedly eager to purchase. An overriding sense of trust prevailed. With each successive milestone achieved, Diza Collective’s presence on the international stage grew stronger. Graduating to exhibitions in Milan Design Week and Maison&Objet in Paris, its iconic designs captivated visitors and garnered acclaim.  Architects and buyers alike were drawn to the brand’s unique style and sustainability. Potential orders came in from American buyers. To resolve their reluctance to transfer money in an unstable economy, a US bank account was opened to enable safe payment for all international clients.

  • Today Diza Collective has a team of twelve talented designers and a large-scale production facility as it continues to push boundaries for contemporary furniture design. Its inspirational story stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and unity in the face of adversity. Now part of Ukrainian Product Design, the products are readily available in the UK market. Bringing together a team of diverse designers, their combined expertise encompasses industrial, environmental and architectural design alongside industry experience working with leading companies like Roche Bobois, Durame and Breitenthaler. Many designers have received awards including the ultimate accolade the distinguished Red Dot award, Elle Decoration International Design Award and YELLOW.

  • As it expands its reach into new markets, the remarkable story of Diza Collective is a powerful example of the will to succeed against the odds. Discover Diza Collective’s captivating collections and learn more about the journey.

  • The USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine (USAID CEP) supports startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) aiming to provide support for competitive industries and firms on Ukrainian and international markets, foster a better business-enabling environment and enable Ukrainian companies to benefit from international trade.

The items used in the project