Yuri Soloviev studied design in Moscow in 1938, before going on to work as a designer in a number of state-funded enterprises. These included the Architecture and Art Bureau, of which he was the first director, in the Ministry of Transport Industry (1946-56), the Central Design Bureau in the Ministry of Shipbuilding (1956-9), and the State Commission for Science and Technology (1959-62).
Soloviev’s role within the Ministry of Transport Industry was important since the USSR’s transportation infrastructure had been badly affected by the war. His work during this period included designs for railway carriages, urban transport, and passenger ships.
One of the leading figures in Russian design in the second half of the 20th century, Soloviev worked in many fields including furniture, interior, industrial, and transport design. Charged with expanding design activity in the USSR, Soloviev was appointed Director of the government-sponsored Research Institute of Industrial Design VNIITE (1962-87).
Consulting with leading international figures in contemporary design, most significantly Paul Reilly, director of the Council of Industrial Design in Britain and the American industrial designer Raymond Loewy, VNIITE grew in size and significance with branch offices across Russia establishing international relationships through the organization of exhibitions and seminars.
Perhaps most important in terms of external relations was the link with ICSID, of which VNIITE became an institutional member in 1969, with Soloviev becoming a vice-president in the same year. After organising ICSID’s 1975 biannual congress in Moscow on the theme of Man, Design and Society, he served as president of ICSID from 1977 to 1980.
In addition to his role in design education and professional organizations Soloviev also disseminated his ideas widely through his editorship from 1964 onwards of the Tekniecheskaya Estetika (Technical Aesthetic) VNIITE design journal, as well as the publication of many books and articles and conference addresses.
His importance was recognised in the receipt of many design awards including the fourth Osaka International Design Award, the International World Design Prize, and the Japan Design Foundation’s International Design Award. Yuri Soloviev passed away in October 2013 aged 93.