Tag Archives: design institutions

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.

Panton Spanish Specials in Madrid

The Architectural Foundation COAM in Madrid has organised an exhibition of one-off Verner Panton chairs, reinterpreted by a selection of Spanish designers and artists. The show, 10 Autores + 10 Sillas Panton, will close on October 7 with an auction of the pieces, reworked by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Alberto Corazón, Álvarez Sala y Rubio Carvajal, Angel Schlesser,  Guillermo Pérez Villalta, Javier Mariscal, Manuel Serrano, Ouka-Leele, Pedro Feduchi, and Tuñón y Mansilla.

Showroom VITRA
C/ Marqués de Villamejor nº 5 – Madrid
Tel. 91 426 45 60 –  www.vitra.com

Spanish Design Goes Online


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.

ADI-FAD 2009 Delta Awards


From the Delta Awards website:

The Association of Industrial Design ADI-FAD calls for companies and designers from Spain and other countries to take part in the Delta Awards with products that are distributed in the Spanish market. The purpose of this competition is to encourage public recognition of those products which stand out because of their innovative character, for their conceptual originality, the response among the public and their environmental impact, as well as their design and their manufacturing quality.

The Delta Awards have been open to international participation since 2007. The aspiration to reflect the current situation of the market has meant that the 2009 Delta Awards are open to products designed and produced by companies and designers within Spain or other countries, as long as these products are widely distributed in the Spanish market.

Applications deadline 15th March 2009. has been extended to April 30th 2009.

The Jury for the ADI-FAD Delta Awards 2009:
Uli Marchsteiner ADI-FAD board of directors
Luki Huber Industrial designer
Konstantin Grcic Industrial designer
Luc Donckerwolke SEAT
Javier Nieto President Santa & Cole
Dr. Ramon Folch Estudi Ramon Folch – Gestió i Comunicació Ambiental, S.L.
Luisa Bonchietto President of ADI Italy
Monica Gili Director of Gustavo Gili Publishing S.L.
Florian Hufnagl director of “Neue Sammlung”

More information is available at www.delta-awards.com.

La Vanguardia offers open online access to its archives


Instances of the word 'diseño' in La Vanguardia, 1881-2008

Barcelona’s major broadsheet newspaper, La Vanguardia, has opened up its archives (Hemeroteca) and now offers free online access. The full content ranges from 1881 onwards, can be searched by keyword, topic or date and downloaded as .pdf files.

As an interesting feature to note, the results interface offers a detailed interactive visual timeline of the number of occurences of the search word throughout La Vanguardia’s archives. A search for ‘diseño’ (design), for instance, reveals a striking development in the use of the word.

Its first noticeable appearances coincide with the 1920s / 1930s and the rise of Spanish modernism, and diseappear by 1936, at the start of the Civil War. The 1950s see a very slow, small but steady return of the word, whit its use growing noticeably from the mid 1960s. Between 1976, the start of the Spanish political transition, and 1989, the surge in the appearance of ‘design’ in the newspaper is extraordinary, from 1,194 instances in 1976, to 4,670 in 1989. After a short trough, usage peaks by the late 1990s, with 5,597 appearances in 1999.  Perhaps most surprisingly, there is a very sharp drop from 2000, and current levels of usage in 2008 are only equivalent to those of 1986, the height of the Barcelona design boom.

As I’ve suggested in La Barcelona del diseño, design and the city had a special relationship between the late 1970s and the late 1990s, which seems to have now lost some of its historical relevance.

And here is some eye candy from the archives:


Advertisement for clothes and underwear manufactured with synthetic fibers. May 1952.


Advertisement for Muebles Malda, one of Barcelona's furniture retailers. June 1966.


'We can't all use the same furniture'. Advertisement for Muebles La Favorita, one of Barcelona's furniture retailers. October 1973.


The FAD Industrial Design Delta Prizes of 1976. Images of designs by Miguel Mila, Jose Bonet and Studio Per.


January 1977. Barcelona Design Centre (BCD) moves to larger premises.


Colour supplement, July 1992: ‘The Games of the imagination. The Olympic project becomes the inspiration for the design of hundreds of objects’. In the main picture, Andre Ricard, designer of the olympic torch.

Devil in the details

It’s clear to me that Barcelona has a lot to be proud of.

I have a slight, undefinable (and very charming, I’m told) accent when speaking English, so when I was living in London people often asked me where I came from originally. ‘Barcelona’, I would say. To which everyone unfailingly replied: ‘Barcelona! Such a beautiful, exciting city! The food! The  weather! The architecture! The design! What the hell are you doing here in London?’

‘Pah!’ you will say (if you’re from Barcelona). ‘That’s the dreaded, evil “Barcelona Brand” effect. It’s crap. Big empty words. It’s ruining our city, and our lives.’

Perhaps so. But while the locals complain, the foreigners admire, and envy. They both have good reasons for their reactions.

What  brought me to this slight digression, was coming across a news release at Core77 about the announcement by BCD (Barcelona Centre de Disseny) of a new strategic design cluster in Barcelona. BCD’s press release, notes Core77’s Mark Vanderbeeken, is ‘unfortunately clumsily written and clumsily translated.’

We can have dozens of big strategic design initiatives, to promote ‘business excellence and innovation with international projection’ as this one claims to do. But unless their press releases are written in flowing and grammatically correct English, their international projection will suffer.

It’s a good thing when a city dares to have a big vision. Barcelona’s may have been clouded by commercial interests, but still its perception abroad is that of a vibrant cultural node, with an amazing amount of clever, ambitious projects underway, a city looking at the future and working hard to make it happen.

All I want to say is, I wish that a highly visible, top-level Catalan design institution like the BCD could make the effort to produce perfect English copy for its international press releases. Not doing so only serves to project a total lack of professionalism. If we want to be taken seriously, we need to behave like grown-up, serious players. And that means making the effort.

The devil is in the detail, and the future too.