Date of Award:

5-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Interior Design

Advisor/Chair:

Darrin Brooks

Abstract

During the shift from the rule of Joseph Stalin to that of Nikita Khrushchev, people in the Soviet Union witnessed dramatic political, economic, and social changes, evident even in such private aspects of life as residential home interiors. The major architectural style of Stalin's era, known as Stalin's Empire Style, was characterized by grandeur and rich embellishments. The buildings' interiors were similarly grandiose and ornate. By endorsing this kind of design, Stalin attempted to position himself as an heir of classical traditions, to encourage respect for his regime, and to signal his power. When Nikita Khrushchev became the country's leader shortly after Stalin's death in 1953, he proclaimed that "excessive decorations" were not only unnecessary, but harmful. As a result, the standardized panel buildings produced at his initiative were defined by straight, plain lines, and were devoid of literally any architectural details that were not considered functional. These changes in Soviet architecture were reflected in interior design and furnishings: the minimalist aesthetic became their defining characteristic. The purpose of this study is to gain, through examination of existing literature, new insight into why a transition to a minimalist aesthetic was happening in the 1950s and 1960s in Soviet urban interior design. To achieve this goal, the present thesis analyzes works by contemporary scholars on the subject and examines statements the Soviet government as well as Soviet architects and interior decoration specialists made regarding the state's views on architecture and interiors during the period of 1950-1960. While research has been published that explores some aspects of this stylistic transition, the present work is unique in that it identifies and focuses on three distinct reasons for the change to minimalism in Soviet urban residential interiors under Khrushchev: the deficit of apartment space, reduction of construction costs, and ideological motives.

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