Who is Alexandra Sankova giving her book to this Christmas?

The Moscow Design Museum director and Designed in the USSR author tells us she's already given some of the creatives featured in the book their own copy for Christmas (and here's the proof!)
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Some of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month. Sitting, from left to right: Oleg Kostenko, Irina Kostenko, Vladimir Runge, Alexander Grashin; Standing, front, left to right: Olga Druzhinina, Alexandra Sankova, (unknown), Marina Timofeeva, Sveta Chirkova; Standing, back, left to right: Stepan Lukyanov, Alexander Lavrentyev, (unknown), Alexey Kolotushkin, (unknown), (unknown), Igor Lisenko
Some of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month. Sitting, from left to right: Oleg Kostenko, Irina Kostenko, Vladimir Runge, Alexander Grashin; Standing, front, left to right: Olga Druzhinina, Alexandra Sankova, (unknown), Marina Timofeeva, Sveta Chirkova; Standing, back, left to right: Stepan Lukyanov, Alexander Lavrentyev, (unknown), Alexey Kolotushkin, (unknown), (unknown), Igor Lisenko

Christmas wasn’t exactly a red letter day in the Soviet Union. Given its religious roots and bourgeois overtones, the citizens of the USSR were encouraged to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day instead. Nevertheless, a little gift giving still went on. To get a look at the sorts of objects that might have ended up under the Soviet tree, order a copy of Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989.

Alexandra Sankova, founder of the Moscow Design Museum created this fascinating anthology of vacuum cleaners and soda syphons, clothes adverts, confectionary and cars. Read on to discover how long it took to get this great work into print, how elements from the book ended up on Russian TV, and who she’d like to give a copy of the book to this Christmas.

 

A spread from Designed in the USSR
A spread from Designed in the USSR

What inspired you most this year? This year Designed in The USSR, our book on Soviet design, was published. We have been waiting for this publication for so long; it was the first publication about our collection abroad. And we enjoyed the success of the book. Our friends and colleagues who work in various museums in Asia, Europe and America keep writing to us saying they bought the book for their collections and that it's being sold in museum bookshops. And the fact that the book was published in English and French is really cool!

What annoyed you most? Most of all I was annoyed with routine (as always). I realise all projects need to be thoroughly prepared over time and I realize that everything happens consistently, but I wish ideas could be brought to life faster.

 

Two of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month Left: Alexander Grashin right unknown
Two of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month Left: Alexander Grashin right unknown

What was your personal highlight? This year TV Culture Russia broadcasted a 4-series documentary, The History of Russian Design, which was filmed by the Moscow Design Museum. TV is a very popular medium in Russia. The channel is watched all over Russia and this was a very important educational moment for people who are not familiar with the theme of design. My parents were very happy when they were called by their friends from different parts of Russia and told them that they'd seen me on TV. Now we want to share the film with universities and museums around the world so that they can use this material for educational purposes.

 

Vladimir Runge, one of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month
Vladimir Runge, one of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month

What can we expect from you in 2019? We are preparing two more books on the history of Russian design. We will hold an exhibition of Soviet design in Russia and China. And Exhibition Russian Design 2017-2017 will travel across Russia.

 

Alexander Lavrentyev, one of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month
Alexander Lavrentyev, one of the designers featured in Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 holding a copy of the book photographed at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow last month

Who will you give your Phaidon book to for Christmas? This year we will give the book to Soviet designers who gave us material for this publication and people who donated objects to our collection. They have been dreaming about this book for a long time. We have been shown a lot of archival materials and industrial products of the 20th century and after the publication of the book the number of gifts increased. I guess we will soon have to publish the second edition of Designed in The USSR!

 

 

Designed in the USSR

Want to see more of the products those Soviet designers produced? Then order a copy of Designed in the USSR here.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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