Design Museum – Imagine Moscow

Text Image

Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution
Exhibition graphics, illustration and marketing campaign
Design Museum, London, 2017

Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution which gave birth to the Soviet Union, the exhibition Imagine Moscow at London’s new Design Museum examined how architecture and design were used to envisage and communicate the new Soviet ideal throughout city life.

Kellenberger–White’s challenge was to design graphics for an exhibition largely based around unrealised projects: six ‘phantom’ buildings formed the core of the exhibition.

We drew an illustration to visualise each building. The resulting series of icons, combined with the font Apax – a Constructivist-inspired typeface with a contemporary twist – comprised the graphic language of the exhibition. We used the illustrations in various ways throughout, scaling one up to occupy a ten-metre-long wall.

The ascending spiral being an accepted motif of utopian progress during the Soviet era, a large black spiralling wall formed the chief display structure of the exhibition. This lead the visitor on a pathway along which they encountered each of the six phantom buildings. We supplemented these with an information system and posters which the visitor encountered as if on a city street. Text panels included exhibition text, the building illustration, a map indicating the building’s imagined location in Moscow and a biography of the building’s architect.

Kellenberger–White also created feature walls as theatrical backdrops for the chiefly black exhibition environment: one, a Prussian Blue gradient referred to the backgrounds of the detailed coloured architectural drawings produced by the Vesnin brothers, displayed elsewhere in the exhibition on an upstanding lightbox; we also worked with a marble merchant in London to create a trompe l’oeil wall of red marble evoking the monumentality of Lenin’s mausoleum, the only realised building in the exhibition.

Project team
Curator: Eszter Steierhoffer
Exhibition design: Kuehn Malvezzi Berlin
Graphic design and illustration: Kellenberger–White
Exhibition photography: Thomas Adank