Happiness in Debed Village

From Frankfurt to Lori: interviewed Tatevik about how this all began.

Article by Ani Gasparyan.

– – – Translated from Armenian – – –

It was a beautiful sunny day after 15 years of exciting life with advancing career in Germany and traveling over 75,000km around the world, when Tatev suddenly realised that she found something special was right here in a forgotten village called Debed. The story may be fantastic or a scenario of a fiction film, but it’s real and this is how it started.

– I studied Applied Mathematics at Yerevan State University.  After graduating, however, I realized that it was not my field. I was interested in design, and embraced the tiny opportunity to study it in Germany. It was the year 2003.

Tatev first studied German and then enrolled the Mainz Design School, graduating it in five years. She started then her career at SYZYGY Germany, a famous design company in Frankfurt.

– Everything was just fine, my career was on the rise. I got quickly promoted and became a leading art director, the next promotion was in sight. But suddenly a crisis broke out. Perhaps the reason was the continuous overworking and the semi-burnout state, I can not say. I was questioning my path, ma lifestyle and if all that effort was worth it, and if I was happy with my life. Later on I was granted German citizenship, which should have comforted me, as I’ve been working hard for years to achieve it. But no, intuitively I still was missing something.

In 2014, the psychological crisis reached its peak. Tatev decided to take a half-year sabbatical and left for a long journey.

– I headed to a round-the-world trip in December 2015 and traveled 13 countries including Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Cambodia, Japan, India and Nepal. The last stop was Armenia, where I was going to visit my family, sort out my thoughts collected during the tour and prepare myself to return to work in Frankfurt.

While living in Germany, Tatev visited to Armenia once or twice a year, but confessed that Armenia for her was limited to Yerevan, her parents and some friends.

-I never took time to explore Armenia, I didn’t feel much interested in it during those 15 years, which made me feel a bit guilty.

After that 6-month tour, when she arrived in Armenia, she decided to visit some family friends in Lori. The inner world of Tatev begins to evolve the moment she arrived in Lori. She seemed to discover a never-seen.before Armenia.

– Looks like I needed an entire world trip to appreciate Armenia. And indeed, I began observing Armenia through the lens of a traveler. It was a real discovery for me. And once I reached Debed, I just fell in love. I never thought that there could be such a green corner in Armenia in summertime – such a beautiful environment, right at the river, the perfect spot to recharge and recover. That moment I realised how valuable it is, when your environment gives you energy instead of consuming it. All I wished was to have a small house here to spend summers.

The occasional thought turned quickly to action. She found a house for sale in the village, and without hesitating made the downpayment before returning to Germany. After her long journey and discovering Debed in Lori, Frankfurt was no longer the same to her, she felt so unattached. The trendy, beautiful workplace in the downtown seemed strange and wrong place to be for her.

– it seemed to me that I was living someone else’s life right at the first day back to work. While observing my old familiar environment and my colleagues, I felt I was not belonging there anymore. I asked myself what I was doing there at all? I knew if I would stay, I would fall into a new depression. Few days later I wrote a letter of resignation and started my freelance career.

She no longer depended on employer, urban environment, working hours, and other restrictions. The technologies enabled her to work from anywhere in the world with just a computer and internet. Tatev headed the road again for a new tour, combining work and travel. After testing her new lifestyle in several countries, she ultimately asked himself: “If I can work from anywhere in the world, why not from Lori?”

– And indeed, my journeys outlined what I needed most – natural and recharging environment, good food and comfortable personal space – high quality of life below the line. This is how the Debed Life idea was born.

In early 2018, Tatev finally returned to her homeland, however, not to Yerevan, but to Lori and Debed Village. She began the reconstruction of the village house, the home that will not only be a private residence, but also an interesting business project. The villagers couldn’t recall, when was the last time when someone bought a house in the village.  The idea that Tatev wants to implement is simply unprecedented for the village.

“Debed Life” is a small, three-storey house with about 300 square meters, with beautiful outdoor kitchen and garden, where the and rest will be merged. Individuals and groups of up to 8 people can come, stay, work, collaborate and hold workshops in a harmonious environment, away from urban noise.

–  I look forward to the end of the construction, planing to launch in October. My aim is to celebrate the New Year of 2020 in my house. There will be bedrooms with separate work areas, a spacious co-working space, the lofty ground floor will include a living room, a library and a dining area.

The construction became very popular in the course of the past 2 years, as the most of the construction works were done locally by villagers. The young people, who have not seen any significant change in the village during the past years, have been watching Tatev’s project with great enthusiasm.

– This is not the only project I plan here, there are few interesting ideas in perspective. It is very important for me to show the people a success story, to prove, that there is a huge business potential in rural communities. They need our support as much as we need them, we are just not fully aware of that. My ultimate goal is to be a role model with this project.