Comradely objects

Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s

By Yulia Karpova

Comradely objects


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3988-7
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £96.00
  • BIC Category: ART / Russian & Former Soviet Union, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), DESIGN / History & Criticism, Former Soviet Union, Ussr (Europe), Society & social sciences / Material culture, The arts / Art & design styles: from c 1960
  • Series: Studies in Design and Material Culture


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 hack-work and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet design 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, hand-made as well as machine made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. This is a study of post-avant-garde Russian productivism at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, an account attentive to the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design.


Introduction: Soviet things that talk
1 The aesthetic turn after Stalin
2 Technical aesthetics against the disorder of things
3 Objects of neodecorativism
4 From objects to design programmes
5 New production culture and non-commodities
Epilogue: Soviet object, an incomplete project


Yulia Karpova is assistant archivist at Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, Budapest

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