Cold War Design on Sale

The truth is that sometimes the gift shop at the end of the art exhibition is better than the show itself. There--we've said it. The latest show at the Victoria & Albert Museum is "Cold War Modern Design 1945-1970" and it is interesting. The cold war period spawned its own art, design and architecture that formed an integral part of the way we lived through that time or think about it now. Nixon and Khrushchev were fighting it out with Nixon's memorable quote: "Would it not be better to compete in the relative merits of washing machines than in the strength of rockets?" ( I bought the tea-towel).

But what was really great was this Save Our Planet carrier bag made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. It has a design by Buckminster Fuller which depicts his scheme to install a one mile high dome over Manhattan which would provide year round climate control. The bag itself is adapted from a poster produced by Olivetti in 1971. So much history packed into one little ecobag--Christmas shopping here we come.

There were four pieces of women's clothing by Marian Schoettle, who calls her label "Post Industrial Folkwear". They are made out of Tyvek, which is packaging material used in post office envelopes. It is very light, and so are the clothes. The dress was grey, and very simple and the coat was white with black stitching. As she says, she makes "extremely lightweight jackets, bags, curtains and tarps made from breathable plastic paper, surplus materials and a bucket of paint."

Roman Cieslewicz's design depicting the two superpowers as mirror images of each other. The image is from a 1968 cover for a French left-wing art magazine.

"On July 24, 1959, the Kitchen Debate as it came to be known, took place at a ground breaking meeting between U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. The meeting took place in the kitchen of a suburban house model where the two men discussed the virtues of their respective economic and political systems, comparing the design and technological accomplishments of their countries."

May be a fitting gift, given the political season. Victoria & Albert Museum, Cold War Design
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