Revisit the Cold War decades through Soviet Logos

Monday, 13 March, 2017

Image by Rokas Sutkaitis

If you pine for the Cold War decades, and the USSR, or Soviet Union, let Soviet Logos take you on a trip down memory lane, through a growing collection of logos of Soviet era companies and enterprises, curated by Lithuanian brand designer Rokas Sutkaitis.

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Soviet Innerness: wallpaper journeys behind the Iron Curtain

Monday, 24 October, 2016

USSR era wallpaper

Do you remember Brezhnev? The iron curtain? The Soviet Union? The wallpaper? Yes, I kid you not, do you recall the wallpaper design of the Soviet era?

In case you’ve forgotten, or didn’t know what is was like in the first place, then Soviet Innerness, a collection of wallpaper designs, is for you. Brought to you by Elena, and Alessandro Calvaresi, curators of wallpaper design from the Eastern Bloc.

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What if the world’s best known brands had originated in the USSR?

Tuesday, 30 August, 2016

Design by Mike Levchenko

Saint Petersburg based graphic designer Mike Levchenko re-imagines well known global brands as if they had been designed in the Soviet Union, during the height of the Cold War.

Brilliant.

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The Buran programme, the Soviet space shuttle that didn’t take off

Monday, 15 June, 2015

Photo by Ralph Mirebs

The Soviet Union, and then later the Russian Federation, aspired to a space shuttle programme, but only one craft, of a number that were built, ever went into Earth orbit, in 1988, an un-crewed flight at that. The Buran programme, as it was known, was eventually suspended in 1993.

While some of the vessels, or what was constructed of them, before the programme was terminated, can be found in various locations in Russia, this collection of photos by Ralph Mirebs, is about all that now remains of the Buran programme.

It’s unfortunate that more didn’t come of the project, considering the resources that had been expended into it.

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The stylehunters of the Soviet Union

Wednesday, 3 June, 2015

If sartorial codes of some sort were ever imposed on citizens of what was once the Soviet Union, it didn’t stop a group of people, referred to as Stilyagi, or Stylehunters, from finding ways to dress with some individuality in mind.

Even though the Stilyaga subculture went directly against communist ideology, members’ motives were generally non-political. More an escapist subculture than a group of cultural protesters, Stilyagi created their own colorful world within a restrictive egalitarian regime.

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The Soviet waiter and the mystery of the missing table napkin

Wednesday, 20 February, 2013

With their work and conditions guaranteed by the state, were Soviet era waiting staff ruder than those in the West?

One can find numerous explanations of this phenomenon, from the shortcomings of the planned economy to the institutional structure of the Soviet service industry to the vagaries of the Russian soul to the legacy of serfdom. But one factor was clearly that Soviet workers, unlike their American counterparts, were guaranteed jobs, wages, and access to essential needs like housing, education, and health care. The fear that enforces fake happiness among capitalist service workers – culminating in the grotesquery of Pret a Manger – was mostly inoperative in the Soviet Union.

A former colleague once recounted an incident from a business trip to Moscow, during the final years of the Cold War. As he and his companions were preparing to leave a restaurant they had been dining at, it was discovered by the waiting staff that a single table napkin was missing.

Management threatened to call the police unless the errant napkin came to light, and despite the party’s best efforts to explain that they were neither in possession of the napkin, nor knew of its whereabouts, demands for its immediate return persisted.

Apparently the restaurant was otherwise empty (surprise, surprise), so one of the group was able – while no one else was looking – to snatch a napkin from another table. When the manager returned, my old work mate offered to carry out another search, and to the… dismay of all, the wayward serviette was located under their table.

An unnerving incident for sure, but I wouldn’t think that it was indicative of the Cold War era eating experience in Moscow.

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Music with pictures, the cold war x-ray records of the Soviet Union

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012

x-ray records

During the 1950s one of the few ways of hearing banned Western music, especially pop and jazz recordings, in the Soviet Union and Eastern Block, was to listen to copies of such records that has been pressed onto discarded x-ray film.

Image via Primitive Equations.

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Gone but not forgotten, 20 years since the end of The Soviet Union

Monday, 2 January, 2012

A collection of photos taken in the lead up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, or USSR, just over twenty years ago.

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A short history of the Soviet film industry

Monday, 16 May, 2011

The Soviet Union at one point boasted a thriving, innovative film industry, albeit very briefly though, during the last half of the 1920s. Prominent film directors of this period included Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov, Alexander Dovzhenko, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Sergei Eisenstein, perhaps the best known filmmaker of the time.

Why are these films so far off our radar? Eisenstein is the exception because, accord­ing to the BFI season’s curator, Ian Christie, his acknowledged greatness unintentionally squashed the others’ international reputation, but some clashed with British primness and suffered the consequences. Abram Room’s marvellous Bed and Sofa (1927), about a ménage à trois, was banned here into the 1950s because it mentions abortion; Dovzhenko’s superb Arsenal (1928), a symbolism-steeped meditation on the pity of war, manages to encapsulate more of the horror, loss and emotional and physical breakdown of conflict in its first five minutes than any government gearing up for another world war would willingly show its able-bodied young men in a year.

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Book cover design during the days of the Soviet Union

Monday, 18 April, 2011

A collection of Soviet era book cover designs.

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