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Soviet Critical Design: Senezh Studio and the Communist Surround

Authors Tom Cubbin
ISBN 9781350021976
Publisher Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Place of publication London
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Language en
Keywords Soviet, design, Senezh studio, Russian, Material Culture
Subject categories Design, Art History, History of Technology, History


Soviet Critical Design is the first monograph to explore the socialist design practice of 'artistic projecteering', which was developed by the USSR's Senezh Experimental Studio in the 1960s. Tom Cubbin first examines the studio as a site for the development of the design discipline in the optimistic environment of the Soviet Thaw of the 1960s. He then explores how designers adapted to new realities of the Soviet Union of the 1970s and 80s. Over two decades, designers at the studio worked on critical projects that highlighted how the Soviet state's treatment of citizens, urban heritage and the environment was manifest in daily life. Drawing on previously unpublished visual material from private archives and also extensive interviews, this book presents a new history of the late socialist period in the USSR, which gives insight into the creative strategies of designers who engaged their practice as a contribution to broader discussions on alternative models for socialist existence. Overall, it argues that artistic projecteering must be read as a utopian activity which privileged the political and ideological over the functional.

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