We would like to thank everyone who attended and took part in this symposium for making it such an interesting and enjoyable event. We are indebted to our really excellent line up of speakers, the first class moderators, the very helpful student volunteers who gave up their time, to Jane Pavitt and David Crowley for proposing the event, and to the administrative and technical staff who helped us see that everything ran smoothly. The event was entirely funded by the Humanities Department of the RCA so we are grateful for that. We appreciate the excellent turn out too, and would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed with their questions.
We felt really encouraged that so much could come of a small student led event, and hope that we will find a way to expand these modest beginnings and continue the discourse on this very rich area of design and architectural history.
Please free to add comments on the comments page.
(for programme, abstracts and other details see menu tabs above)
East European post-war modernity is the object of increasing interest among cultural historians. Within centrally planned societies, 'designing modernity’ was an attempt to create a material and structural basis upon which communism could be achieved. The social significance of designed objects, works of art, and the urban environment were all contested and re-conceptualized at different points and locations during this period.
This one day Royal College of Art symposium, Designing Socialist Modernity will explore the complex processes of emerging modernity in Central and Eastern Europe, including the GDR and USSR. The event brings together a variety of approaches from design, art and architectural history, anthropology and material culture studies, spanning a wide geographical area. This will provide a basis for discussion on how designers, craftspeople, artists, theorists, engineers and other specialists attempted to create a material basis for modernity in socialist countries after 1945.
The day will be structured around segments of a film created for the 1975 Congress of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, held in Moscow. The film is a recording of a rehearsal of a multi-media display which was created to match the congress theme, Design for Man and Society. Blending images from Renaissance paintings, consumer goods' catalogues, 1895 Lumière Brothers films and live television broadcasts, the show was intended to symbolize the saturation of the material environment with things and commodities as a consequence of modernity. The display was censored by the Soviet authorities shortly before the congress, and will be shown for the first time in its intended form: as a visual counterpoint to speeches relating to the design of modernity. The film brings out many themes that we hope will arise from the papers, questioning the role of the man-made object in post-war socialist societies.
The symposium will also be punctuated by short object-based presentations given by MA and PhD students who are researching related topics at the Royal College of Art.
The event takes place on Tuesday 22nd May in RCA Lecture Theatre 1 (Jay Mews entrance, Darwin building, South Kensington campus) and is followed by a wine reception in the Senior Common Room in the same building.
The symposium is free and open to all.
If you would like to attend, please email socialistdesign-at-googlemail.com before 8th May 2012 in order to confirm your place. Please give your name and, where relevant, institution, company or organisation, and put CONFERENCE REGISTRATION in the title of your email. Please also indicate whether you expect to purchase lunch in the canteen. (note: there are no shops or cafes in the immediate vicinity of the Royal College of Art.)
We look forward to seeing you.
Getting here and accommodation
For details on how to reach the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, please visit the college website. For an accommodation search we can recommend hostelworld.com, booking.com and airbnb.com, and the surrounding area is Kensington / Knightsbridge / Chelsea / Hyde Park, (the college is situated next to the Royal Albert Hall), though cheaper options are likely to be found further from this area, such as in Battersea or Bayswater.
Organisation and concept: Jessica Jenkins, Tom Cubbin, Rebecca Bell, Anda Boluza, Kasia Jezowska
Editorial content: Tom Cubbin
Communications design: Jessica Jenkins
This event is kindly supported by the Royal College of Art School of Humanities.