Tag Archives: books

Design and History – Book launch

El próximo viernes 19 de marzo, Editorial Designio y la Fundación Historia del Diseño, presentarán el libro Diseño e historia. Tiempo, lugar y discurso en en el Disseny Hub Barcelona (DHUB). Esta nueva publicación de Editorial Designio, es una recopilación de ensayos escritos por Conxa Bayó, Anna Calvera, Isabel Campi, Mireia Freixa, Guy Julier, Viviana Narotzky, Raquel Pelta y Oscar Salinas.
Editorial designio, en combinación con la  Fundación Historia del Diseño, ofrece una notable reflexión de la historia del diseño desde la óptica de reconocidos autores que unen su  conocimiento y experiencia profesional para analizar el desarrollo histórico de las profesiones del diseño moderno y contemporáneo.

Los ensayos que componen este volumen han sido redactados con una notable libertad, al principio del libro el objeto de estudio es la propia historia y su origen mientras que, al final del libro, el objeto es el estudio  de casos de historia local.
Así, se aborda la necesidad que tienen los diseñadores de que se construya un discurso histórico a fin de legitimar, dar contenido y sentido a su disciplina. Por ello, tanto Oscar Salinas en como Raquel Pelta nos ofrecen una panorámica sobre el surgimiento de la historia del diseño en diferentes épocas y contextos. Anna Calvera e Isabel Campi, nos introducen en un temas de creciente interés, como son los orígenes del diseño y el tema de género.

Guy Julier y Viviana Narotzky enfocan su objeto de estudio a la sociedad contemporánea influenciada por la transnacionalización y la globalización y en los nuevos paradigmas del diseño y la cultura material de la mecanización y la seriación que marcan al diseño y la historia en el siglo xx.

Al final, se exponen dos casos de historia local; Mireia Freixa analiza con minuciosidad el paso hacia la conversión de Barcelona en una reconocida capital del diseño internacional, y Concha Bayó presenta una investigación sobre una interesante colección de planchas, auténticas joyas de la tecnología doméstica.
La calidad y variedad de estos ensayos nos entrega un análisis del surgimiento y desarrollo del diseño, que hasta hoy no se había presentado así en el medio iberoamericano.

The Goods? In ‘The Work’

I’ve added a new page to this blog – it’s called ‘The work’. It lives on the right-hand sidebar, alongside ‘the author’, ‘the blog’ and ‘the book’.

It has a selection of links to some of my writing, as well as a few downloadable PDF files. There’s writing on Barcelona, including a full chapter of my book La Barcelona del diseño. Many of you have been asking if it was available in English – not as yet, but here’s a taster.

There’s also links to online excerpts of other things I’ve written about: old American cars in contemporary Cuba, TV makeover shows and domestic interiors, the challenges of historical research in archive-averse environments, or the relationship between footnotes, chairs, and cities.

Go have a look – the goods are in The Work. There are texts in English, Spanish and Catalan, so there’s something for everyone!

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).


Much more than a book for Christmas

To celebrate both its 25th anniversary and the festive season, 4th estate publishers (a division of HarperCollins) has commisioned a short stop-motion animation film produced by Apt, a London-based design and marketing consultancy.

This Is Where We Live, is the wonderful combination of a love for books, a love for urban life, and the work of  ‘an insane bunch of animators’ – their words, not mine. Created entirely with actual, physical books published by 4thEstate, the film projects a charming, somewhat romantic vision of the city, and a great sense of humour in its linking of the titles, and sometimes the narratives, to London. The Greenwich Observatory, for instance, is made out of Dava Sobel’s Longitude, while the West End Cinema is made of books that have been turned into films.

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

The Designer’s Review of Books

Launched just under two weeks ago, the Designer’s Review of Books promises to be a nice place to hang around and browse the online shelves. The DRB was founded, is edited and written (mostly) by Andy Polaine, an interaction designer, journalist and lecturer, but it features guest reviewers as well for more specialist pieces. Here’s what Andy says about his project:

Although there are several good design websites that occasionally have book reviews, there didn’t seem to be a single place online where you could get constant updates and reviews of new (and sometimes old) design books.

The reviews are grouped under 2D, 3D, Interactive and Motion, and so far the 3D aspect is under-represented, although that will probably be addressed as more articles are posted.

There are still only a handful of reviews on the site, but they are for the most part quite detailed, giving a good overview of the books’ contents and with some welcome pics of interior spreads. While more descriptive than critical in tone, they provide a helpful indication of what the books are about and of their approach. So it’s not quite yet the design equivalent of the LRB, but a great initiative nonetheless. Keep reading.

Fear and Loathing in Barcelona

…or, after watching the video above, one might be tempted to swap famous titles and go for ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Barcelona’.

The video is part of an online campaign for the promotion of the book Odio Barcelona (‘I Hate Barcelona’), published by Editorial Melusina. It’s a compilation of pieces by twelve Barcelona-based authors, whose essays address aspects of the city that they dislike, in most cases related to the housing boom speculation and the negative effect of commercial interests on the fabric and spirit of the city, as well as to the growing pressure of Catalan nationalism on everyday life and urban politics.

Authors include Javier Calvo, Agustín Fernández Mallo, Philipp Engel, Robert-Juan Cantavella, Hernán Migoya, Llúcia Ramis, Matías Néspolo, Carol Paris, Oscar Gual, Lucía Lijtmaer, Javier Blánquez and Efrén Álvarez.

There can be no doubt that the extended honeymoon of the Barcelonese with their city is long over, a disenchantment that was probably sealed in the collective urban mind by José Luis Guerín’s 2001 film En Construcción, the understated but moving documentary of the construction of a new building in the inner-city neighbourhood of El Raval.

Another recent addition to the chorus of critical voices is Manuel Delgado’s book La ciudad mentirosa. Fraude y miseria del modelo Barcelona (‘The Liar City. Fraud and Misery of the Barcelona Model’), published by Catarata in 2007. This is an impassioned rant, described by the author as the cry from the heart of a disabused lover. Although the author is an academic at Barcelona University, the work is journalistic in tone (but with useful bibliography in the footnotes). It offers a fairly generic serving of urban studies and public space theories as background to a virulent critique of the evolution and implementation of the Barcelona model of urban regeneration, particularly the wholesale commercialisation of the city both as a ‘brand’ and as a building site.