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Soviets Get Look at American Design

September 5, 1989 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ An exhibit on commercial design gave Soviets a peak at American life Tuesday, from food processors to a red Corvette, and one wrote in the visitors’ book: ″They are on the moon; we are in a pile of manure.″

″That’s how real people live,″ another said. ″The Americans don’t forbid people from living the good life: Why can’t we have the same things?″

Neither of the comments was signed.

Hundreds of Soviets crowded into the Moscow hall on the first day of the exhibition, watched videos of American life and chatted about life in the West with 24 Russian-speaking American guides.

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″Design U.S.A.″ was divided into four parts: architecture, products, graphic design and design in motion.

The displays drawing the most visitors were motorcycles, bicycles, sports equipment, the Corvette and a kitchen even more modern than the one in which Richard M. Nixon debated Nikita S. Khrushchev at the first U.S. exhibition 30 years ago.

After gazing at the kitchen display, housewife Tanya Russkina said: ″We don’t have anything like this. It’s so modern and comfortable.″

She said the exhibition proved relations between the United States and Soviet Union were improving.

A 12-year-old looked beyond a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the racing bicycles on display. ″The bike is what I really would like to have,″ he said. ″The kayak would be nice to have also.″

The exhibition is the 19th showcase of American life to come to the Soviet Union. It opened on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. display, where Nixon, then vice prresident, and Soviet leader Khrushchev held the impromptu ″kitchen debate″ on the relative merits of capitalism and communism.

Sarah Despres, a guide, said her Russian was a little rusty.

″It’s a little nerve-wracking,″ she said, but added that the visitors were very patient. ″When someone speaks too fast, the others tell him to slow down,″ she said.

The only complaint heard during a tour of the display came from a woman who was could not push through the crowd to the kitchen. ″There are too many people and not enough exhibits,″ she said.

After the exhibition closes in Moscow on Oct. 1, it will move on to Leningrad, Donetsk, Kishinev, Baku, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.