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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.

Yulia Karpova

spaces for various activities, which opened into the park where there would be recreational structures such as pavilions and artificial lakes. All the buildings were to be constructed using industrial methods from standard blocks of reinforced concrete.59 The project was further expanded with the help of the architects Boris Palui and Mikhail Khazhakian. It was envisaged as a crucial component of the new centrifugal city plan and an embodiment of the Khrushchevist KARPOVA 9781526139870 PRINT.indd 37 20/01/2020 11:10 38 Comradely objects decentralisation of power

in Comradely objects
Yulia Karpova

glass production. The Moscow artist Vladimir Filatov called for building a relationship of artists with industry on the basis of ‘mutual respect and understanding of [common] interests, aims and needs’. Smirnov, who worked in many different areas of art and design simultaneously, acknowledged glassblowing as the truest embodiment of creativity. He described his cooperative work with a glassblower as ‘the most interesting: this is an exceptional opportunity to directly and naturally enrich art by incorporating the artistry of the glassblower, naïve and free, untouched

in Comradely objects
Open Access (free)
Tania Anne Woloshyn

skin of the ‘Hottentot’ was considered as the embodiment of the ugly and as the effect of layers of dirt. Since skin color was one of the most important racial signifiers in theories of race circulating in the early twentieth century, the shade of one’s tan became a controversial point. Ongoing efforts to define a ‘healthy brown’ or a ‘natural white’ make apparent the ambiguity and permeability of

in Soaking up the rays