Moscow’s Heritage art gallery believes that Soviet furniture is an art form all of its own. It has opened an exhibition called “Avant-Garde and post Avant-Garde in Soviet design,” which showcases rare and original items, comparing the 1930s with the 1960 – 1970 period.
The exhibition counteracts the common prejudice in the West that there was very little in the way of furniture design in the Soviet Union.
Curator Kristina Krasnyanskaya told euronews: “There were things in our country at the time which were very similar aesthetically to foreign equivalents. When we studied this issue closely, we saw that the designers in the 60s at the time of the ‘thaw period’, were inspired by the ideas of the Avant-Garde artists.”
The exhibition also shows the aesthetics of Khrushchev’s ‘thaw period’ in the late 50s after the Stalin years, as the Soviet Union began rapid large-scale residential construction to quickly deliver small flats to as many people as possible.
Yuri Sluchevsky, then a young designer, created new design trends at the time. Now a professor at the Moscow Stroganov Art Academy, he confirms that mass residential construction meant young designers of the ‘thaw period’ embraced the straight and minimalist aesthetics of the 1920s and 1930s. He told euronews: “Because of the need to produce a lot of cheap furniture in this country, because of not only low production costs but also low consumer prices, this trend has somehow stayed alive and even succeeded. In my opinion, some good things have been done in that regard.”
Collectors are paying ever closer attention to furniture from the former USSR but today, ironically, even collectors find it difficult to locate pieces.