Stories of Abandoned Tashkent Houses

Designer Jenia Kim tells a story of her journey right down the rabbit hole of an abandoned mansion, and unravels its mystery through clothes, accessories and objects.

Last spring, my friends and I decided to spend some time in the countryside and stopped at the foot of the nearest mountains. When walking around the plantation, we came across an abandoned house situated far from the busy streets. It had broken windows, so nothing prevented us from getting in. 

The house had caramel-brown panels, blue wooden handrails and wallpaper at the staircases and in the rooms that created the effect of the distorted space. All seemed pretty surreal. Among the weeping willows and firs, we also spotted old gazebos – the paint was peeling off their walls but on the ceiling some gracefully painted birds could still be discerned.

Walking around the house and its surrounding territory we could not but think about people who were once living there and imagining what our lives could be like should it all belong to us. After a while we resumed our trip but I already knew I wanted that spot for my photo shoot.

So later in summer I returned to the abandoned house with the team. On the way to the building, we bumped into a new boom gate – failing to open it, we decided to reach the place on foot (about 3 kilometers uphill under the scorching sun). We were halfway through our journey when a “Zhiguli” showed up on the road, which was surprising since we thought the barrier was welded and began to wonder where it was coming from. We stopped the car and asked the driver to give us a lift. The man turned out to be the plantation director and he told us the story of the house. He said its building project had been started in the times of the Soviet Union but was never brought to the end. The owner of the mansion was a well-to-do official, but during the perestroika he was put in jail and thus the construction site got abandoned.  

The man did not mind the photo shoot and when learning that last time we had climbed in through the window, he was kind enough to provide us with the key.  Moreover, he also asked the forester to lift the boom gate for us on the shooting day. I felt absolutely delighted. Wasn’t it a miracle for the times we were living in?  

We did the shoot with the local team I met back in 2019, when I had a burnout, had to suspend the work of the brand and move to Tashkent. So, it was one more project I did with Tashkent guys only, which is always important for me and is always a kind of achievement that proves that beautiful photo shoots can be done at little expense and a lot of determination. 

When I was coming up with my idea for the ​​shooting, I wanted to create the image of a girl who lives in her own world of fantasies and unnecessary, forgotten objects. She loves the aesthetics of that house, even though there is no furniture and other stuff. She uses her imagination to populate the space with whatever she needs. In the shooting we used old clothes as if she built her cool looks from what she found at hand.

I don't have a house of my own now, so I enjoy looking for beautiful places and staying in them, or imagining the space I may one day have, enlisting in my mind the details of my future home. My next goal is to build or find a similar old house and turn it into “J. Kim's house”. I would like to invite artisans to make wood carvings based on my sketches, create handmade tiles and textiles. I dream of designing a unique space that would bring together all the concepts I use in the clothes I make.

J.Kim's clothes and clothes and props from Yangiabad were used in the photo shot.