A Harmonious Environment of Objects: Technical Aesthetics and the Late-Soviet Human
What do chandeliers, food processors, and rockets have to do with one another? A Soviet designer would find plenty in common. All those things, and all other things as well, belonged to a realm that could be perfected, optimized, and rationalized through the scientific field of technical aesthetics. Design intervention on a national scale could not only unify aesthetic criteria, but also keep unpredictable individual choices out of all spheres of life. Such, I argue, was fantasy of the emerging postwar Soviet design establishment as it set out to perfect the realm of everyday objects. My presentation will discuss the total program of Soviet postwar design, focusing on the role that the human agent, actor, and consumer played in this vision of a “harmonious environment of objects.”
Diana Kurkovsky West holds a Ph. D. in History and Theory of Architecture from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Art History from Williams College. Her work focuses on the intersection of science, planning and design, with a particular interest in how scientific theories become applied to social and aesthetic programs. She is currently Co-Director of Science and Technology Studies Center at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia.