UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


The Cold War Capsule in London, 1968: Baltic designers, their hopes, fears, and visions

27 April 2023, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

A photo of the Carnaby street in 1968

Please join us for this event with Dr Karolina Jakaitė, co-organised by UCL SSEES FRINGE Centre and the Lithuanian Cultural Institute

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to









Masaryk Room
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton street

In August 1968, three young Baltic architects, Tadas Baginskas, Vello Asi and Ivars Strautmanis, met in London at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The Soviet Industry and Trade exhibition held there was one of the key international events organised by the USSR that year. Besides the main space-themed section with its undertones of Cold War rivalry, special attention was devoted to the technology and design of the occupied Soviet Baltic Republics. All three had separate pavilions, created by Baginskas, Asi and Strautmanis, respectively, and showcased the best examples of Lithuanian, Estonian, and Latvian domestic and industrial design.

Today, these pavilions could be seen as a cosmic capsule whose mission was interrupted by unforeseen political circumstances, as Soviet tanks invaded Czechoslovakia on the night of 20 August. Unsurprisingly, calls to close the exhibition were voiced during protests in London. As a result, the pavilions did not receive proper acclaim at the time – inviting us to rediscover them 55 years later.

Among the discoveries made by Dr Jakaitė are almost 200 slides taken by the Lithuanian architect and designer Tadas Baginskas with a Fed camera on Orwo colour film, a selection of which will be shown at SSEES. These slides capture the colourful and vivid life of London streets in 1968, as seen through the eyes of an East European artist during his temporary escape from behind the Iron Curtain.

About the speaker:

Dr Karolina Jakaitė is a design historian and researcher at the Institute of Art Research, Vilnius Academy of Arts. Her research interests include design history studies, design and identity, national pavilions, Lithuanian and Baltic design in the 1950s–1970s, and design exhibitions. In 2011 she conducted her research internship on Soviet trade exhibitions in the 1960s in London at the Royal College of Art. In 2016, the journal Art in Translation (Taylor & Francis) published her article ‘The Lithuanian Pavilion at the 1968 London Exhibition’. She has edited books and catalogues on Lithuanian design, organised conferences, and curated design exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad. Her book, The Cold War Capsule: Lithuanian Design in London, 1968 (Vilnius: LAPAS Publishing House, 2019), was nominated for the National Book Contest’s Book of the Year, 2020. Her latest publication is the book Antanas Kazakauskas: Everything is Programmed (Vilnius: Vilnius Graphic Arts Centre, 2022).

The talk is moderated by Dr Dzmitry Suslau, lecturer at UCL SSEES. Dzmitry is the module leader of Contemporary Art and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia. His current research focuses on human ecology, critical issues in public art, and a broader connection between culture and environmental change.

FRINGE Centre and Lithuanian Cultural Centre logos

Image credit: Carnaby London in 1968 by Tadas Baginskas