Soviet Critical Design

Soviet Critical Design: Senezh Studio and the Communist Surround

by Tom Cubbin

Tom Cubbin is a senior lecturer in design studies at the Academy of Design and Crafts, Gothenburg, Sweden. He contributed to the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design, and has had several articles published in Home Cultures, Estonian Art, and the Calvert Journal. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-2200-3 (online)

    978-1-3500-2199-0 (hardback)

    978-1-3500-2198-3 (epub)

    978-1-3500-2197-6 (epdf)
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    First published
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Soviet Critical Design
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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Drawing on previously unpublished visual material from private archives and also extensive interviews, this book presents a new history of the late socialist period in the USSR, which gives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.