Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Soviet design beyond Moscow: The professional role of women in the system of regional branches of the VNIITE (1960-80s)

Fri31  Mar02:45pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Room 355


Alyona Sokolnikova1
1 Independent Scholar, UK


The current study is based on an analysis of the number of women from different regions of the USSR and the types of their projects mentioned in the Technical Aesthetics journal as well as on archival materials and personal interviews with designers. The aim of the research is to determine the extent of Soviet women's contribution to design and to identify specific problems faced by Soviet women designers that made their contribution less visible, including the problem of collective authorship and the fact that less than a third of all design projects created in the USSR ever made it to production due to a combination of political and economic reasons. Another important factor, which has long been ignored and therefore requires further investigation, is the very nature of the subaltern relations between the RSFSR and its constituent republics, which influenced the visibility of projects created by regional designers. If we apply a decolonial lens, we can see that the displacement of women to the bottom of the design agenda can be explained by both hierarchical and geographical reasons. At the same time, through selected biographies of Soviet designers, we can visualize how the Russian SSR took advantage not only of material but also of intellectual regional resources. The study of women's professional roles in the branches the VNIITE should contribute to cultural and gender diversity in the representation of the historical heritage of Soviet design.