People in the USSR avoided the word "design", but design as a phenomenon existed in the country. This type of activity was called artistic construction, or technical aesthetics. The design/aesthetic system was created as a fundamental and serious one (like everything in the Soviet Union). Soviet designers could not have their own studios and their names were known only in their professional sphere. Designers and industrial graphic artists were engaged in such kind of activity, which was called 'industrial design' and 'graphic design' in Europe and the USA.
Organizers of the exhibition "The System of Design in the USSR" consider the 28th of April, 1962 as the birthday of national design. This is the day of signing the decree of Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union "On improving the quality of mechanical engineering products and goods with cultural and domestic purposes through the introduction of artistic design methods".

Soviet designers were often ahead of time. It was impossible to produce things that they had invented because of some objective reasons: there were no technologies or materials, production had to be upgraded, the demand for a particular product was not fully explored or it would be too expensive to produce a new product. In many cases the development was extremely far from production, that is why some projects were never realized or their production stopped at the prototype stage.
Table “Emblems for demonstrations”, 1925
Photomontage “Young guard”, 1924
Advertising poster “Lengiz: books in all spheres of knowledge”, 1924
Soviet designers were often ahead of time. It was impossible to produce things that they had invented because of some objective reasons: there were no technologies or materials, production had to be upgraded, the demand for a particular product was not fully explored or it would be too expensive to produce a new product. In many cases the development was extremely far from production, that is why some projects were never realized or their production stopped at the prototype stage.

Organizers of the exhibition "The System of Design in the USSR" consider the 28th of April, 1962 as the birthday of national design. This is the day of signing the decree of Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union "On improving the quality of mechanical engineering products and goods with cultural and domestic purposes through the introduction of artistic design methods".
Soviet graphic design was developing in the genres of agitation and advertising poster, the art of graphics for books, and in applied tasks like the creation of packaging, logotypes, and corporate styles.
Poster “The sixth part of the world”, 1926
In 1954, within the framework of the Moscow Union of Artists, was created a section which was later called "Promgraphics" (Industrial Graphics). It was the first professional association, which accomplished orders for production. In different years, the section was headed by outstanding designers: G.A. Shchetinin, A.D. Kryukov, V.S. Akopov.
Soviet posters are visual manuals created in the USSR with a purpose to explain a certain issue. For example, to show the attitude of the Soviet authorities towards current events in an understandable form.
Together with radio and newspapers, posters were means of agitation and propaganda that have an influence on people's minds and ideas. Posters can encourage people to engage in political or other activities.

The style of the Soviet posters was changing together with the historical development of the USSR. Moreover, the propaganda contained in them combined universal values (freedom, social justice), patriotism, general educational elements, calls for a healthy lifestyle and so on. Soviet posters generally are works of fine art and they reflect elements of Soviet cultural heritage.

Since the early years of Soviet authorities, there appeared many posters aimed at struggling with bad habits. Many items touched the topics of the fight against drunkenness and alcoholism. There are the most famous ones.
Poster “Homeland is calling”, 1941

Poster “Did you signed as a volunteer?”, 1920
Poster “NO!”, 1954

Poster “Father, do not drink”, 1929

In 1930, in the USSR occurred an important event for the entire printing industry. In February, the All-Union Committee for Standardization accepted the mandatory All-Union standard №1337 about "Garth fonts". This small two-page document limited Soviet designers to use only a certain set of fonts.

It included "Ordinary", "Educational", "Latin" typefaces, etc. The Soviet designers did not want to limit themselves in means of expression and did not want to make up all books according to one standard. That is why many people took pencils and brushes in their hands and began to compensate for the lack of fonts by creating their own unique compositions. Every experiment with calligraphy was obviously unique, but only in 1960 the first font catalogues began to appear, and all these experiments were recorded and systematized.
Film "Afonya", 1975
Film “Before dawn”, 1989
Film “A Woman without an address”, 1958
Film “Friends”, 1938
Film “Lessons of French”, 1978
In 1930, in the USSR occurred an important event for the entire printing industry. In February, the All-Union Committee for Standardization accepted the mandatory All-Union standard №1337 about "Garth fonts". This small two-page document limited Soviet designers to use only a certain set of fonts.
It included "Ordinary", "Educational", "Latin" typefaces, etc. The Soviet designers did not want to limit themselves in means of expression and did not want to make up all books according to one standard. That is why many people took pencils and brushes in their hands and began to compensate for the lack of fonts by creating their own unique compositions. Every experiment with calligraphy was obviously unique, but only in 1960 the first font catalogues began to appear, and all these experiments were recorded and systematized.
Advertising in the USSR is a branch and industry of distribution of advertisement in the USSR. Despite the planned economy and the accompanying shortage, commercial advertising still took its place in the USSR.
Strange as it may seem, "bourgeois" in its core advertising technologies were in fact actively used to socialize the forming mass community - the "Soviet people" – giving them the direction and marking milestones for the transformation of their lives.

When the question was raised correctly, political, social, and commercial advertisers could become social engineers, like writers. If not the engineers of peoples’ souls, then at least the designers of work and everyday life of people, of the right needs, the technologists of their socially approved satisfaction.
Poster “Buy canned corn”, 1935

Advertisement of cans “Snatka”, 1938
Advertisement “Buy ice-cream”, 1951
Advertisement “Citrus juice”, 1951
The Soviet propaganda actively used the possibilities of infographics to demonstrate the achievements of the Soviet agricultural industry and volumes of Soviet production.

he method of graphic statistics firstly was used in 1919, but its importance especially increased in the following decades: “There were no clubs, red corners, reading rooms, or schools, where the diagrams were not produced or displayed”. By the end of the 1920s, "old methods of statistical diagrams - in the shape of 'curved lines', columns, circles or simple images without any political and class meaning - could not solve the problem of popularizing the statistical data". That is why a need for a more visual and convincing graphic system emerged. The USSR accepted the so-called Vienna system.
Infographics “Park of tractors”, 1956

Infographics “Electro energy”
Infographics “Wheat”
Infographics “Industry”
The Soviet propaganda actively used the possibilities of infographics to demonstrate the achievements of the Soviet agricultural industry and volumes of Soviet production.
The method of graphic statistics firstly was used in 1919, but its importance especially increased in the following decades: “There were no clubs, red corners, reading rooms, or schools, where the diagrams were not produced or displayed”. By the end of the 1920s, "old methods of statistical diagrams - in the shape of 'curved lines', columns, circles or simple images without any political and class meaning - could not solve the problem of popularizing the statistical data". That is why a need for a more visual and convincing graphic system emerged. The USSR accepted the so-called Vienna system.

Infographics “Resources of the USSR”
For Russian book art, the XX century was a century of intensive development. This development was diverse and multidirectional. It was subsisted by idealistic hopes and current needs and guided by both clearly defined goals and vague affections.
The starting point for development was dissatisfaction with the state of Russian books in the second half of the 19th century. This book was eclectic in broad terms: not only because of its stylistic variegation (which is commonly called eclecticism), but also because of the plastic incompatibility of its components.

Artists who received the principles of "myriskustnicheskyi" (originated from “the world of art”) book graphics in the 1920s formed a kind of school. This school was not organized formally but its style was unmistakable. They created only book covers, and worked productively and qualitatively, preserving their traditionally high graphic culture. But their art gradually turned from an artistic phenomenon into a narrow professional one.

Book “Theory of painting”, 1923

Book “The Art of Workers”, 1928
Book “The Art of Workers”, 1928
Book “Theatre made of Stone”, 1927
In the post-war USSR, the issue of modernizing industrial production had a great value. Designers had to solve the problems of fast, economical, and mass production of goods.
White service made by Malevich, 1965
Soviet artists, scientists and architects constantly were searching for new forms and created projects that changed (or could change) the future. From the concept of "perspective taxi" and universal clothes to the analogue of "smart clock" and Google Glass.
The upper turning element shows the number. After the 31st date appear such tablets like: "Rearrange Month", "Rotate Slowly" and "Leningrad Goznak Mint". The rotating element is decorated with medallions depicting the figures of "Horse Tamers". The month is changed by removing the metal plate on the right and changing cards according to month. The day of the week can be changed manually by turning the handle on the right onto yourself.
Table calendar. The beginning of the 1950s.
The tumbler was invented in ancient times, in the 12th century in Japan (as a symbol of concentration and detachment). Even 200 years ago it was possible to buy wooden "kuvyrkans" and "van’ka vstan’ka" at Russian fairs. The red tumbler is perhaps the only replica of the old world in the time of Soviet power. It was a kind of basic Soviet toy, along with metallic whirligig. The tumbler for mass production was developed by a toy research institute in Zagorsk in 1958.
Toy “Nevalyashka” (tumbler), model of 1958.
The cup holders were an essential attribute of the Soviet everyday life, and special series were produced for special occasions. For example, this series was dedicated to the successes of the USSR in space exploration. No one thought why on earth a purely patriarchal thing like a cup holder should be used to glorify the great success in the sphere of space exploration. Although people soon started joking that they must be made of cosmic dust.
The cup holder “Space”. The beginning of the 1960s.
“The Seagull” is an exact replica of the Dutch vacuum cleaner Remoco SZ49 made in the 1930s. In the USSR, this vacuum cleaner became popular because it was trouble-free and easy to use. People especially noted its stylish design and ergonomics. Soviet marketers, if it is possible to call them so, heard something cosmic in the name "The Seagull". And indeed, the word "Seagull" became the byname of Valentina Tereshkova, the first female cosmonaut.
Vacuum cleaner “Chaika” (seagull). Model of 1963.
The most popular Soviet SLR camera was developed at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant (KMZ). Mass production of this camera was implemented in 1965-1982. Over 8 million units were produced. It is a world record. The “Zenith” of early releases had a removable ocular ring, which made it possible to install a dioptric lens (from glasses) to correct the photographer's vision. The majority of photos in family albums were taken by Zenith.
Photo camera “Zenith-E”, Model of 1965
In the USSR, lighting devices were developed for public spaces, and those "for home, for family" were their replicas. For example, the black lamp of the 1930s was the "younger sister" of the massive "narkomovskaya" (used in Peoples’ Commissariat). But the 1960s were revolutionary years: the design of lamps now replicated foreign designs and was not tied to "big style". Designs of table lamps were created by the artist Mikhail Olenev. The lamp of 1968 is especially functional, elegant, and light.
Table lamp. Model of 1968.
The design was developed by the artist Adolf Irbite, who created images for almost all the products that have been manufactured in Riga's factories since the 1930s. The monophonic network first class radio gramophone "Rigonda-102" was produced at the "Radiotechnika" (radio engineering) plant. Comparing to the previous model, it provided more steady reception and better sound quality. The output power and the sensitivity of the tuning indicator was doubled.
Radio Gramophone “Rigonda-102”. Model of 1971.
There was a cult of chess in the USSR: they were supposed to demonstrate the intellectual superiority of socialism. Our sportsmen participated in plays for the title of world champion. The triumph was the battle between two Soviet champions Karpov and Kasparov in 1984-1985. That time the number of chess-lovers was unbelievably high, and the chess clock became a symbol that could be recognized at the first glance. There were chess clocks of the first and second class, they also were small and large.
A clock for playing chess “Slava” (Glory). Model of the 1980s.
The manufacturer defined it as a "household carrying cassette monophonic". It was a symbol of wealth, and at the same time this did not become a reason for it not to become a symbol of uncensored art. A mains power supply was integrated into the device, and it also could work using the energy from batteries or car accumulator. Due to this, a new teenage culture emerged in the USSR: now the tape recorder could be listened to on the go and records could be taken.
The tape recorder “Electronics 321”. Model of 1981.
Unified semiconductor portable black and white television was produced at the Moscow Radio Engineering Plant. The key word is portable: people placed it at cottages, recreation centers, teachers' rooms. The model is legendary: many people for the first time watched "Vzglyad" (Sight), the Congress of People's Deputies and the series "The Slave of Isaura" on its screens. Its main features were shockproof case and explosion-proof kinetoscope, push button program switch and frame antenna. Weight of 9 kg.
Television set “Yunost’-406D” (Youth). Model of 1987.
“It was “Higher School” in miniature. Everybody learnt from everybody here. Any discovery became a public property”.
Elene Aleksandrovna Vyaznikova
MADE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES
ART DIRECTOR
MENTOR
DESIGNER
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