Moscow Design Museum has some more examples too http://moscowdesignmuseum.ru/en/exhibitions/1/. Those that grew up in Soviet Union will recognize familiar objects. I recognized the phones, the "basketball" game, and the portable checkers game. Well and of course the Moskvitch 408 car.
I don't remember really thinking about design back then. Maybe because we didn't have many choices. You wanted a tape player you picked between 4 models, cars - same thing, and so on. And there is probably an effect here of finding the best stuff and displaying it. But that wasn't the average. Most of the stuff remember being unreliable and needing repair. Electronic equipment came with nice diagrams of how everything worked, but it wasn't from the goodness of their hearts, environmental concerns, or trying to foster a "maker" culture, it was because it would actually be unreliable and break down quite often.
For those interested, this particular kind of design is known as retrofuturism around the Internet. Reddit has a good subreddit on it: https://www.reddit.com/r/RetroFuturism/
I personally have once had these Sputnik razor blades: https://www.ebay.com/p/Sputnik-100-Double-Edge-Razor-Blades-...
In addition to being dirt cheap, I also found the branding funny. Somehow I felt like I am buying something not very good in terms of quality, but which does work (somehow) anyway. There were also pack called Lada's in there. I definitely felt like the Sputnik ones were better than the Lada's though.
I always will wonder if, suppose we hadn't bothered with a "cold war" and the mutual antipathy & fear, the Soviet system would be ticking along well.
So, I always find the bits of Soviet thought fascinating. In large part, I think it is because it is both modern and alien. A different road was taken and a different perspective was built in so many things. Even when I work with people who grew up in that world, they have a variant viewpoint versus people from other worlds.
I would love to see a volume translating the key developments of Soviet computer science & programming languages. There's drabs of translated information, but not a coherent narrative & a solid compare & contrast.
Eastern bloc design is what American fifties-early-sixties were, back when Khrushev was trying to make USSR a semblance of a normal nation.
To many here, it will may sound surprising, but Khrushev kept quite high opinion of the Western society, and looked up to it.
After Khrushev was kicked out of the politbureau, all things got stuck in that era till the moment USSR kicked the bucket.
Villa camera (Iskra) is a folding type rangefinder medium format that is the best mechanical camera done in USSR, it has automatic counter and leaf shutter. Optically is copy of Zeiss Tessar and is my favorite medium format camera for street photography. It gives me a felling close to M3 Leica rangefinder. Some say that Iskra is a copy of AGFA Isolette but i think that Russian version is superior. Grab one of Ebay if you are into film shooting. They are cheap and do beautiful work.
The camera is Iskra, not Vilia. Manufactured by KMZ rather than BelOMO.
In fact Soviet school of technical/industrial design was surprisingly high. Even in military related products.
Being graduate of physics and technology department of university I still remember basics of course named "Technical design and ergonomics".
As a huge synth geek the soviet era synthesizers are sought after and also produce unique sounds. Here's a comparison of Moog(US) and Polivoks(USSR): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbdyMP_CiIY
Also! They look cool.
If you liked this, you'll probably enjoy the North Korean equivalent:
Although the designs are more austere and less whimsical. (As, to be fair, were the vast majority of Soviet products too.)
I like that the pasta box indicates net weight at 13% humidity level. One can only wonder what led to this.
Does anyone happen to know the meaning of "пояс" (belt) in the pricing scheme on the same box?
It's a small nitpick but the Saturnas vacuum, the first product featured, was actually Lithuanian. The most obvious clue - the name is written in Latin alphabet, not Cyrillic.
Of course, with centralized economy, most of these designs probably had to be approved by Moscow but it doesn't mean that it was the seat of all creativity and innovation.
People have also recently rediscovered Soviet era wristwatches:
These look so familiar - my family had quite a few of these everyday objects when I was growing up in Ukraine. I am no fan of USSR or the state of Russia today, but I do feel a sense of nostalgia when I hear or see descriptions of objects, apartment layouts, etc from those days.
On a related note, you can find lots of Soviet era (as well as modern) things and curious facts on this wonderful site
There is something so fascinating about this stuff. Phaidon seem to be a publisher that traffic in this kind of 'other tourism'. I got their North Korean products book
Mention USSR and suddenly HN turns into Reddit-level discussions. I wonder how many replies it takes before the "USA won WW2!" is posted.
To uninitiated, Soviets had school. The School. Level of the secondary education in the Soviet Union in early 50-es was such a quality, that Finns copied all that methodology that gave them generation of engineers. And Nokia.