How Yuri Gagarin inspired Soviet design

56 years ago today the Cosmonaut became the first man in space and launched a new era of Soviet design
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USSR Vostok (East) Rocket Tin for Sweets - Moscow Design Museum
USSR Vostok (East) Rocket Tin for Sweets - Moscow Design Museum

On this day in 1961 Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space and orbit the Earth, helping boost the Soviet space program and intensify the space race with the United States. Back then the skies, it seems, seemed so much friendlier. 

 

We set our goal to build a socialist production industry - and we reached it poster - Moscow Design Museum
We set our goal to build a socialist production industry - and we reached it poster - Moscow Design Museum

Gagarin, who stood just five feet two inches in his socks, developed a passion for flying while at technical school. He then entered military flight training, earning his pilot’s wings in the cockpit of a MiG-15.

 

Through worlds and centuries poster - Moscow Design Museum
Through worlds and centuries poster - Moscow Design Museum

At the turn of the Sixties he was selected as one of the Soviet Union’s first grouping of 20 potential cosmonauts. He excelled in training and was chosen to be the first man to enter space (it may have helped that the Vostok-1 capsule was so damn cramped).

 

Vostok (East) 1 Rocket Table Clock - Moscow Design Museum
Vostok (East) 1 Rocket Table Clock - Moscow Design Museum

Like that of the Mercury astronauts that followed him into space just a month later, and the Apollo astronauts who set foot on the moon, Gagarin’s fame spawned a number of mini industries – one of which was graphic and product design - both of which took a decidedly space age turn. Inspired by Gagarin’s out of this world experience here are just a few of them, courtesy of the Moscow Design Museum (you can see more on their Instagram). Wherever you are in the cosmos Yuri, we salute you. 

 

Yuri Gagarin's voice record from Krugozor magazine - Moscow Design Museum
Yuri Gagarin's voice record from Krugozor magazine - Moscow Design Museum

More great Soviet-era design can of course be found in Graphic: 500 Designs that Matter. 

 

 


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