There’s something that links most of the everyday objects presented in “Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design.” But it’s hard to tell exactly what that is just by looking at this collection of wobbly dolls, drinking glasses, primitive arcade games, and arsonistic space heaters. The essence, argues editor Michael Idov, is the system that built them: a post-WWII economy, mostly closed from the rest of the world, trying to transform its tank and grenade factories into places that churned out Western-style consumer goods. Idov grew up in Soviet Latvia with “some pretty terrible stuff,” but he believes the experience makes him, and other Soviet citizens, hyperaware of good design when they see it. Julia Barton explores the good, the bad, and the weird products of the former empire.
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