Osnovy Publishing is an innovative publishing house that both grew with Ukrainian society and practically formed its reading habits. Based in Kyiv, Ukraine, we introduce readers to quirky DIY balconies, Ukrainian erotic photography, orthodox Ukrainian architecture and Soviet buildings overlooked at home and newly praised abroad — through our manifold works, Ukrainians and foreigners alike can explore a novel side of Ukrainian culture and realise that everything can be regarded as a piece of heritage.
With a name that appropriate translates to “foundation”, Osnovy appeared on the Ukrainian horizon in 1992 by its founders Bohdan Krawchenko and Solomiya Pavlychko. It was time when the country declared its independence and was actively seeking fresh perspectives on literature and media. Also, there was a huge need for fresh voices in Ukraine’s nascent publishing industry. Solomiya was a Ukrainian literary critic, feminist, and translator, and Bohdan is a political scientist and former director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. They both believed in Ukraine and the potential for books to transform society, so making great books accessible to a Ukrainian audience was a logical move. This idea gained traction throughout the 90s as the public got more excited to read world classics and acclaimed textbooks in Ukrainian. Osnovy was one of the first publishers to translate a number of important and contemporary textbooks on economics, history, and philosophy.
There was so much enthusiasm in the 90s for books and all forms of culture, which was great for business, and Osnovy’s publications helped shape that moment. Unfortunately, the loss of our co-founder Solomiya Pavlychko in the 2000s coincided with changing tastes. Interest was moving away from traditional publishing and toward online content. Since then, a lot has changed, yet Osnovy’s goal to challenge outdated ideas and foster societal growth is perpetual.
The company’s new leadership maintained the mission, but it was a tough moment everywhere for the publishing industry. Bohdana Pavlychko, Solomiya’s daughter, became the sole owner and brought the new spark that we needed. The mission stayed the same, but this time we were rethinking the cultural ideas about important books. Instead of the previous focus on literature and textbooks, Osvnovy seized on the importance of visually engaging publications with contemporary, design-forward books on photography, art and culture.
We now specialise in art and books about architecture and cultural phenomena. Just like in the 90s, these publications are a way of discovering and articulating fundamental knowledge about our history and helping Ukrainian society rethink this knowledge and find new meanings in it. And of course, one of those meanings is one of affirmation. While we want to understand and develop Ukrainian culture, it’s not just for ourselves. We want to show it to the world.