In the same way that certain sights and sounds help shape our understanding of a particular time or place, peculiar artefacts have a strange tendency to remain firmly lodged in the memory too. Russians, it seems, understand this only too well.

Bringing together archival photographs and essays from the the likes of Boris Kachka, Vitaly Komar, Gary Shteyngart, and Lara Vapnyar, Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, playfully explores the provenance of objects dreamt up under Soviet rule, and the unique climate for design from which they could only have been created.

Compiled by Russian journalist and author Michael Idov, the irreverent compilation celebrates populist works in both graphic and industrial design including the infamous Sputnik, the Buran snowmobile, and the LOMO camera, as well as less prominent products of the time such as the fishnet shopping bag, collapsible drinking cups, and Misha the Olympic bear.

Erudit, the Russian version of the game Scrabble, is perhaps the most memorable addition however, if only for its uncompromisingly direct instructions which state that “If you’re not good at this game, you’re an idiot.” Quite.

Andrew Fenwick

Andrew Fenwick is multimedia editor at Transitions Online. Email: andrew.fenwick@tol.org

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