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Open Access (free)
Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s
Author: Yulia Karpova

The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913.

This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians, scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist regimes.

Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

vibrant and younger’. The consultant establishes what your dominant colouring is, and how this determines what clothes and make-up you should wear. I was identified as a ‘cool winter’ person; the little folder of twenty-nine swatches of material I came away with is dominated by teal, periwinkle, aqua, and royal, medium and Chinese blues, together with reds and greens with blue tints, and the instruction to go for an ‘overall look’ of blues (with eye pencils in ‘marine’). On the few occasions in the past I had deviated from black and other neutral colours in my clothing

in Austerity baby
Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

could one do if Professor William Cohn’s talk on the Chinese Theatre coincided with Egon Wellesz’ Introduction to Byzantine Music? Or Professor Jacobsthal’s talk on Greek Literature with Professor Goldmann’s on the Etruscan language? Perhaps one felt more inclined to hear Zunz on the Odyssey or Friedenthal on the Shakespearean stage. Every evening one could see the same procession of hundreds of internees each carrying his chair to one of the lectures, and the memory of all these men in pursuit of knowledge is one of the most moving and encouraging that I brought back

in Austerity baby
Yulia Karpova

, types, scales and techniques within it. Its principles appear opaque. In a way, they can be considered similar to those of Jorge Luis Borges’s Chinese Encyclopaedia, famously invoked by Michel Foucault in the preface to The Order of Things, in which the reader faces the ‘oddity of unusual juxtapositions’. What was the reason for placing side-by-side a war memorial, a porcelain cup, the interior of a youth café and a monument to Lenin? The simple answer would be that they were all produced in the Soviet Union, but this does not explain precisely why these objects in

in Comradely objects