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Why is design "Made in the USSR" invisible in design history
Linnaeus University.
2013 (English)In: Crafting the Future: 10th European Academy of Design Conference April 17-19 2013 in Gothenburg, 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In order to find out whether "the core actitivites" that constitute our canon of design history "have changed" or not - we need to look closer at what constitutes that very canon.

In the literature, the standard account of design is usually linked to increased sales curves. When applying the market economy as a model, the hitherto most frequently used model in design studies, Eastern Bloc designers come to resemble little more than embarrassing imitators of their more advanced Western counterparts.

So far, the countries behind the iron curtain have been invisible in the design literature. Is the reason for this because design did not play any role at all in these countries? But what if it did - what tools would be required to make this design visible on its own terms? And could it even be so that there is something for us to be learned from the design experience from behind the iron curtain?

This paper will present VNIITE, the Federal Scientific Research Institute for Technical Esthetics, the only design institute in the Soviet Union and the biggest research institute for design world-wide. VNIITE, founded in Moscow in 1962, promoted a new attitude towards industrial production. A short introduction will be given to the prerequisites of the institute as well as of its major ideas. Informed by sources that include studies on technology as well as on economics and culture it will give an alternative perspective as to how the Soviet Union tackled the competition to “catch up and surpass America”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
design, design historiography, Soviet Union
National Category
Art History History of Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-19815OAI: diva2:650803
10th European Academy of Design Conference April 17-19,2013
Observer and Observed in Soviet Design Institutes of the 1960sSovjetisk design: Modernism från Baltikum och Norden – en officiell anomali inom socialistisk estetik under kalla kriget
Swedish Research Council, 2005-2285Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P11-029:1
Available from: 2013-09-23 Created: 2013-09-23 Last updated: 2014-12-05Bibliographically approved

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Tillberg, Margareta
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