Tag Archives: design history

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!

Art Deco in Barcelona

The Design History Foundation launches its teaching programme with a course on Art Deco, which will offer both an international approach to the style and sessions on its local impact.

The 18-hour course will take place between 30.09.09 and 16.12.09, at the Disseny Hub Barcelona, C/ Montcada, 12, 08003 Barcelona. Sessions will be in Catalan.

More information here.

Techs-Mechs – Steampunk time?

Ulysse Nardin Chairman Mechanical Smartphone

Ulysse Nardin Chairman Mechanical Smartphone

I’ve been following the Steampunk phenomenon with fascination. It’s a stylistical branching out that makes perfect sense to me, bringing as it does the formal exuberance of 19th century excitement at the technological wonders of the industrial revolution, its heavy mechanical seduction, its steam and coaldust manliness, onto the flat, bland and opaque physicality of our own turn of the century electronics: Steampunk is hard at work trying to turn Bill Gates into Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Until now, Steampunk has been a somewhat tribal affair, developed by cyberpunk geeks intent on beautifying their gear, a labour of love and tinkering. Well, Steampunk is finally crossing over into mainstream consumer electronics – I was wondering when – and with the support of The Long Now Foundation no less… It makes perfect sense. The Ulysse Nardin Chairman hybrid smartphone’s unique selling point? It’s powered by a mechanical thingy that charges its battery through the users’ movements, just like self-winding wristwatches do. And it looks pure Steampunk.

I leave you with a couple of Steampunk beauties, in the hope that I will get a few of you hooked onto the trend.

Laptop by Datamancer

Laptop by Datamancer

Brass USB stick

Brass USB stick

Steampunk'd desktop computer

Steampunk'd desktop computer

And of course the most spectacular of them all, Paul St George’s Telectroscope that linked London and New York, the twin capitals of Steam and Punk, in the summer of 2008.

The Telectroscope, London end.

The Telectroscope, London end.

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.

Summertime… vintage design auctions are in season

LUIS BARRAGAN (1902-1988) A Sabino and Leather Barcelona Chair, 1959.

LUIS BARRAGAN (1902-1988) A Sabino and Leather 'Barcelona' Chair, 1959. Estimate $20,000 - $30,000. Christie's Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design, 2 June 2009 New York, Rockefeller Plaza.

With the month of June comes the yearly round of summer 20th Century design auctions at all the major auction houses. Sotheby’s ‘Important 20th Century Design’ of June 12 is offering lots for a total lower estimate value of $3.7 million – $5.4 at the highest estimate. This kind of money won’t save GM from bankruptcy, but it still is a hell of a lot of cash. Despite the recession, the relatively young 20C and contemporary design market has been holding its own remarkably well, even if its meteoric rise through to 2007 has been somewhat dampened in the current climate.

Christie’s and Phillips de Pury are also holding June auctions, as are Wright and  Quittenbaum, both specialist 20C Design auction houses. The latter holds a treat for all of you who are interested in Spanish 20th Century design: Andre Ricard’s rare 1973 lamp for Metalarte (pictured below), which I mentioned in an earlier post, is up for grabs at an estimate of €1200. Catch it if you can!

And if you happen to come across other pieces of Spanish design in the auction catalogues, let me know!

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?