Decorativa: The Monopoly of Visual Production in Socialist Romania. The Centralized Organization of Museum Displays in the 1960s and 1970s

Nicolescu, Gabriela. 2016. Decorativa: The Monopoly of Visual Production in Socialist Romania. The Centralized Organization of Museum Displays in the 1960s and 1970s. The Journal of Design History, 29(1), pp. 71-87. ISSN 0952-4649 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article considers the making of simple and routine ethnographic displays in 1960s and early 1970s Romania, as part of the communist project to construct a new social and political order based on modest consumption and collectivized subjectivities. The opening of new cultural institutions employing working-class cultural workers, ‘mass provision’ of welfare, class emancipation and highly regulated production and consumption helped form new interior design in public cultural institutions. From 1964 onwards, a newly-established factory called Decorativa standardized both the form and content of displays. Composed of more than 7,000 artists, architects and manual workers, hired, trained and given responsibility for public displays in any location considered ‘cultural’, Decorativa was at the core of national aesthetics and design throughout its existence under communism. Analysis shows how Decorativa specialists, collaborating with museum curators, made visible the introduction of bureaucratic intelligentsia into the arts. This cooperation, taking the form of adaptation and improvization, allowed the dispersion of design knowledge outside museums among other technocrat workers. In the case of interior design in Romanian public cultural institutions under communism, regulations encouraging minimalism and neutrality did not impede innovation, but in fact fostered it. Speed, improvization and transparency were three characteristics of interior design.

Item Type:

Article

Dates:

DateEvent
29 January 2016Published

Item ID:

20379

Date Deposited:

02 May 2017 09:09

Last Modified:

29 Jan 2018 02:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20379

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