Soviet spacecrafts’ secret designer to give talk at Skolkovo’s Industrial Design festival

Galina Balashova, the Soviet architect who designed generations of Soviet spacecraft interiors, will give a talk at the Skolkovo Technopark on Thursday as part of the annual Days of Industrial Design festival.

Archive designs of spacecraft interiors by Galina Balashova are on show at the Skolkovo Technopark this week. Photo: Sk.ru.

Balashova’s talk is set to be one of the highlights of the conference component of the three-day festival, which runs from June 27-29. It is a rare opportunity to hear the designer talk about her work, which for decades remained classified. An exhibition titled “Space Design by Galina Balashova” featuring archive materials will also be on show at the Technopark during the design festival.

“This is a truly cosmic event, both literally and because Galina Balashova’s design simply blows the mind,” said Elena Panteleeva, the curator of the Days of Industrial Design.

Balashova, who is now in her eighties, designed the interiors of the Soyuz capsules and the Mir and Salyut space stations starting from the 1960s. She was also responsible for the design of the joint Soviet-U.S. Apollo-Soyuz project in 1975, and continued working on the Soviet space programme right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Now in its second year, the Days of Industrial Design brings together tech startups and industrial designers with the aim of devising ways to make innovative products, monetize them and successfully launch them on the market. The overall theme this year is design and technology for the world of the future, with five main topics within the programme: robotics and IT, space, biomedicine, transport and agriculture.

In addition to the conference featuring designers from Italy, the Netherlands and China, a key part of the festival is a three-day design hackathon for designers from across Russia. They will be given tasks by Skolkovo startups searching for design solutions for their inventions. Each startup will be assigned two teams in the final, and will then choose the best solution together with a professional jury.

Last year, Skolkovo resident company Medical Nanotechnology was looking for a design for its ion-conducting scanning microscope that provides images of the surface of living cells with nanometric resolution.

“The winner was Pavel Vorobyev from St. Petersburg, who presented a simple yet original solution. To this day, our company works successfully with Pavel to solve tasks connected with prototyping and developing new modules for our ion-conducting scanning microscope,” Pyotr Gorelkin, general director of Medical Nanotechnology, told Sk.ru.

During the Days of Industrial Design, the Technopark will also host workshops on practical skills such as how to write a technical design specification, how to calculate the costs of a production cycle, and how to market a product for both domestic and international markets.

There will also be lectures and panel discussions on topics including “Transport of the Future,” the use of virtual reality technology in transport, and how everyday life will change over the next 20, 30, 50 and 100 years.

The festival culminates on June 29, which is celebrated as World Industrial Design Day. The results of the hackathon and its winners will be announced that evening.

The Days of Industrial Design run at the Skolkovo Technopark on June 27-29. A full programme is available here (in Russian only). The events are free of charge to attend but visitors should register in advance.