Founder of constructivism, painter and graphic artist Alexander Rodchenko originally designed the Workers’ Club of the USSR as a part of the Soviet Pavilion; it made its debut at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, with its clean, uncluttered design and starkly graphic form quickly defining the parameters of early Soviet design.

Now, students and alumni at the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts’ Furniture Design Department have recreated the Workers’ Club as part of an agreement with the Art Russe Foundation. The group utilised drawings and sketches from the Alexander Rodchenko family archives, made available by the artist’s grandson and Stroganov Academy professor Alexander Lavrentyev, when creating the interior, which has been designed as a functioning and usable space.

Workers’ Club recreated by and for furniture design students

hexagonal bookshelves, part of recreation of Soviet Workers’ Club

Familiar features from the original have been faithfully recreated using materials and techniques available in the early 20th century. The chess table is brought to life by furniture designer Nikolai Golikov and comes complete with constructivist wooden chess pieces designed in 1976 by Lavrentyev and his wife Irina Vasnetsova. A photo stand with hexagonal detailing, convertible desks and bookshelves are also authentically reproduced.

‘In many respects, the goals and objectives of the Workers’ Club as an institution are aligned with those of an educational cluster, which, in essence is what a department of a higher educational institution is, especially one related to design,’ says head of the Stroganov Academy Furniture Design Department and project participant Kirill Cheburashkin. ‘Our Workers’ Club is a living space where students study and relax. We now have a unique opportunity to observe and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the recreated club. And, as professionals, to seek compromise solutions between authentic aesthetics and modern functional requirements for administrative and educational space. The project was intended to enable realisation of a beautiful, century-old utopia that has become a hallmark of Soviet furniture design.’

The reproduced Workers’ Club will remain at the Stroganov Academy, while a second version has been shipped to France to join the Russian art collection at Château la Grâce Dieu des Prieurs in Saint-Émilion. §

book shelf
table and chairs
red and black chess table
red hexagonal bookcase
bookshelf of books