Category Archives: graphic design

A map of writing on walls

IMG_0038

Design collective REDImei are putting together a great online guide to Barcelona graffiti, with photos linked to Google map tags.

UNFORTUNATELY (yes, this is me shouting) I can’t post any of the great pictures here, because all the images on their flickr photostream have an ‘All rights reserved’ Creative Commons licence. Come on, guys. This is street art we’re talking about, our shared urban culture, that laughs at private property and writes on walls.

So the picture above comes not from their otherwise wonderful project, but from my own modest collection. And as all my other stuff on this blog, you are welcome to make good use of it should you so wish, under an ‘Attribution – Share Alike’ CC licence.

At least I can give you the link to their Google Maps page.

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Mariscal whirlwind

MariscaLDN
While in London I visited the Mariscal retrospective (see technical details here) and found it wonderful. The energy of Mariscal’s design reverberates through the exhibition, a dizzying display that builds on the very qualities it seeks to showcase.

It’s a fine tribute to Mariscal’s extraordinary creative zest, his enduring playfulness, and the sheer power of a vision that has created a very consistent personal world, both laid-back and vibrant.

Mariscal Drawing Life at the Design Museum London

01 July – 01 November 2009

The first UK retrospective of Spanish designer and artist Javier Mariscal will open on July 1 at the Design Museum, London. Regarded as one of the world’s most innovative and original designers of our time, Mariscal’s rich and diverse body of work spans kooky cartoon characters to stunning interiors, from furniture to graphic design and corporate identities.

Mariscal’s intense relationship with drawing and illustration is central to his career and is the basis for his designs over the last 30 years. He gave Barcelona its graphic identity as it emerged from the Franco era and in 1992 he introduced the world to Cobi, the official Olympic mascot of the Barcelona games. Sketches, designs, films and photographs will be on display alongside furniture and textiles. Mariscal will also design and paint an elaborate mural for the exterior of the museum showcasing his unique vision and signature design style.

DESIGN MUSEUM, SHAD THAMES, LONDON SE1 2YD
TICKETS: Adults £8.50; Concessions £6.50;
Students £5.00; Under 12s free
OPENING: 10.00 -17.45 Daily. Last Admission: 17.15
PUBLIC INFORMATION T: 020 7940 8790
W: designmuseum.org ADVANCE BOOKING T: 020 7940
8783
W: ticketweb.co.uk

Spanish Design Goes Online

designpedia.net

A few days ago I went to the presentation of Designpedia.net, a recently launched online encyclopaedia on Spanish Design. Designpedia is an open project based on the Wiki concept and under a Creative Commons license, which will grow thanks to the contribution of its users. Its remit is Spanish graphic and product design, although it welcomes interdisciplinary links across a variety of design fields, and its focus on Spanish design does not imply a strict territorial delimitation.

During the early stages of the project, an editorial committee will ensure the quality and relevance of the content, and it is hoped that as the project gains momentum, it will move closer to functioning as a wiki system that is self-edited and self-curated.

Spanish design has a considerable historical trajectory, a diverse institutional network and an active, energetic professional and cultural context. It desperately needs projects that can consolidate all that, and the focus provided by Designpedia is very timely, so I’m hoping this one will take off.  It’s been put together by knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. It also has a great interface, is very user-friendly, and google-friendly.  And I’m in it. So what more can I say to convince you? Go have a look, and if you can, contribute.

Designpedia.net is a project of the Fundación Signes.

How many posters can you stack on the head of a pin?

Book cover by Daniel Gil.

Book cover by Daniel Gil.

I haven’t actually done the head of a pin calculations yet, but I can tell you for a fact that you can fit pretty much all of them in your pocket. The global digitization of archives continues apace, some of it backed by corporate or institutional funding, some of it the work of enthusiastic individuals.

Here’s a brief roundup of some online archives of Spanish graphic design that I’ve recently come across.

Cubiertas de Daniel GilDaniel Gil designed over 2000 book covers for Alianza Editorial between 1966 and 1992. 938 of them are shown here, a labour of love by Alvaro Sobrino.

Josep Artigas – Dissenyador Gràfic. Josep Artigas i Ojeda (Barcelona, 1919-1992) was one of Spain’s major post-war poster designers. Some biographical details are here. (in Catalan). This archive is managed by Memòria Digital de Catalunya (MDC).

Josep Artigas for Nestlé

Josep Artigas for Nestlé

Josep Artigas for Polil, 1949.

Josep Artigas for Polil, 1949.

Also on the MDC catalogue:

Cartells de la Biblioteca de Catalunya,

Cartells de la Biblioteca de l’Esport,

Cartells del Pavello de la Republica (mostly posters from the Second Republic and Civil War).


A sad day for branding, a sadder day for brandy – Osborne gets a makeover.

The Osborne group has announced that it will stop using the black bull as its corporate logo. The Sevilla-based group wants to signal its shift from being mostly a brandy and sherry producer to its current emphasis on products such as water, fruit juices and Iberico ham. It has commissioned a new corporate logo from a Madrid design studio, which is still under wraps and will be launched later this year.

While the fearsome 14-meter high bulls will remain dotted around the Spanish countryside, they will be even further divested from meaning. One more nail in the coffin for this iconic piece of Spanish advertising design, created in 1956 by Manuel Prieto of the Azor agency. The first bull, 7 meters high and made of wood, went up near Madrid in November of 1957. From the early 1960s the bulls were made of metal sheet and were 14 meters high. By the 1970s there were more than 500 bulls across Spanish territories, not just on the Iberian Peninsula but also in the Canary Islands, the Balearics and North Africa.

In 1988, new national transport legislation makes publicity billboards that are visible from the roads illegal, and the word Osborne that was written in red across the existing bulls is removed. By 1994 the Spanish government wants to bring them all down, but many autonomous communities, municipalities and pressure groups fight to save them. In 1998, the Supreme Court grants them mercy, stating that the Osborne bulls have moved beyond their original advertising meaning, having become part of the landscape and a Spanish cultural icon.

The Osborne bull has also left an interesting trail of political associations. As an icon of Spanishness it has been taken over by the conservative right, and prompted the design of  an alternative animal national icon by Catalan nationalists, in the shape of the Catalan donkey. No Heritage listing in sight for that one!

It was also used by Spanish soldiers posted in Irak, both on the national flag and to decorate the barracks.

There are currently 97 bulls left. And now that they are one of the great stories of Spanish graphic design, declared objects of National Heritage, film icons (in Bigas Luna’s 1992 Jamón, Jamón, the bull shares screen time with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz),  Osborne wants to give them up, because they link the group too closely to its past as a sherry wine producer. Would Nike give up the swoosh? Would Macintosh give up the Apple? And all for the sake of branding bottled water and fruit juice?