Boym emigrated to America from the Soviet Union in 1981. He had studied architecture in Moscow and then exploited a loophole in the Soviet system that allowed some people to emigrate so as to reunite families. He chose America for what he describes as the excitement of trespassing. It was a dangerous place, he says theatrically, a forbidden place for somebody who grew up in the Soviet Union. Humour is a tangible presence in Boym's work, but not in the way that it is in contemporary Dutch or British design. It is the simple observation of everyday human artefacts and behaviour, what Boym describes as the Jewish outlook and what might be perceived as black humour in the Buildings of Disaster series. His work is marked by its forays into marginal design genres, by its appropriation of cheap everyday objects and especially by a fascination with America, not just the grand idea of America but also the fabric of its culture.
Constantin Boym took part in Detour New York 2007.