How Russians turned panel houses into art (PHOTOS)

Anokhin Nikita store;
The typical Soviet-era residential areas are inspiring young designers to create many beautiful things. Would you wear a ‘Khrushchevka’ ring or grow succulents in a tiny panel house?

Residential neighborhoods in Russia and post-Soviet states are most often the usual panel buildings, colorless and a bit depressive on the first glance, but also heartwarming and nostalgic, in their own way. (Here’s why

Do you want to have a piece of a Soviet urban area in your home? Then, check out these unusual Russian souvenirs.

1. Nightlights 

The main popularizer of “panel art” is Nikita Anokhin, a designer from St. Petersburg. He became famous all over the country for his handmade nightlights in the form of panel houses. His collection so far consists of 5-storey ‘khrushchevkas’ and 9-storey ‘brezhnevkas’ of different series and modifications. The nightlights are made of concrete, plywood and plastic. And if you look closely you can see scenes from everyday life, blossoming flower beds and, of course, curious cats. The customer can ask to “place” someone from their family in the windows.

Anokhin’s idea has also inspired other people who share their homemade “panel” lights on Russian social networks. 

2. Planters

Another souvenir from Anokhin are his concrete flowerpots. They are available in two variants. ‘Round Anthill’ is based on the legendary round house on Nezhinskaya Street in Moscow.

And the square planter replicates the ‘khrushchevka’ panel houses of one of the first designs, the ‘1-335’. 

3. Jewelry boxes

‘Khrushchevkas’ in which you can keep your favorite jewelry or use it as a box for office supplies and other small things. In general, such a concrete case with a lid will decorate any interior.

4. Snow globes

Christmas ornaments, Soviet style. Moscow craftsman Alexander Dolgikh, founder of ‘Mast’, an online store selling unusual things. On it, you can find all sorts of items with post-Soviet allusions, from badges with a PO-2 concrete fenceьto brass pendants depicting rundown playgrounds. Snow globes with panel houses inside are such a cute winter souvenir. You can request any city name you want when ordering. 

5. Jewelry

Muscovite Kate Snap is fascinated by creating jewelry that references Soviet architecture and design, mostly in silver with niello. Her collection includes rings with the ‘Stalin skyscrapers’ (they’re also called the ‘7 sisters’), rings with Lenin’s portrait, pendants with barriers. Those who like panel architecture will surely like the earrings-pushers and rings in the shape of panel houses. The earrings are asymmetrical: one has a balcony with a window, the other only has a window. On the ring, you can add an engraving.  

6. Perfume

Fragrances can transport a person through time, right? Arina, a Moscow-based stylist, creates avant-garde fragrances under the brand ‘Lilla Katten Parfum’. Here’s how she describes the “flavor” of ‘panelkas’. “Concrete walls. Black, hot, sweet tea from the canteen. A bitten crust of fresh warm bread. A corner with icons near where grandma prays for your health and well-being. The box in which my mother keeps her jewelry and especially treasured amber beads. And ballpoint pen ink-stained baby fingers… What would you give to go back to your carefree childhood, at least for a moment?”

Dear readers,

Our website and social media accounts are under threat of being restricted or banned, due to the current circumstances. So, to keep up with our latest content, simply do the following:

  • Subscribe to our Telegram channels: Russia Beyond and The Russian Kitchen 
  • Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter 
  • Enable push notifications on our website
  • Install a VPN service on your computer and/or phone to have access to our website, even if it is blocked in your country 

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

Read more

This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more.

Accept cookies