In this talk, Tom Cubbin looks at the history of the Experimental and Educational Studio of the Soviet Union of Artists, that were established in response to deficiencies in mainstream design practice that was seen as overly technocratic and ideologically flawed. At an artists retreat by Senezh lake near Moscow, designers produced work that spanned industrial design, urbanism, model making, exhibition design and fine art in an attempt to challenge normative ways of thinking about design, architecture, and culture more broadly. Through the production of utopian alternatives to the status quo, Senezh designers were instrumental in the development of a critical discourse within Soviet design.

Tom Cubbin is a senior lecturer in Design Studies at HDK, the Academy of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg, Sweden. He recently completed his PhD on Soviet Critical Design. He holds an MA in History of Design from the Royal College of Art, where he has also taught in the School of Critical and Historical Studies. Tom has published work in the Journal of Design History, Home Cultures and the Calvert Journal. Tom is currently working on a monograph about Soviet design.