While work itself, whether created naturally or artificially, was never in short supply, the availability of products on which consumers could spend their earnings suffered from intense fluctuations through the Soviet period. The Soviet dream of equality and plenty was often undermined by natural and man-made problems.

The packaging of what was produced, however, is an interesting source of information on social history. The design and branding of day-to-day Soviet items are compelling both from an aesthetic standpoint and as a propaganda tool.

Choice between similar goods in the Soviet consumer market meant that the competitive design more typical of capitalist economies was present also in the Soviet Union. However, designers had to try to gain the upper hand in a theoretically non-consumerist, non-materialist society. As a result, national pride became a favoured tool of the designers, and historic events and national achievements often featured in packaging and in brand names themselves.


Detail from ‘How many millions are starving? Ten!’ by Vladimir Maiakovskii, in The Russian Revolutionary poster. CCA.54.27

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