Beyond industrial and commercial dimensions, design owes its development to political and sociological aspects. It arrives late in Spain in the Fifties, with the precedent of crudely mechanised crafts which are deeply rooted in the social and economic life. A craft which later moves on to a more traditional rather than technological industry and imitated foreign models more than national ones.
Over the last decades of the twentieth century, design has been demonstrated to be an increasingly important factor in the manufacturing of products; it now has an every-day presence. Although its functionality and its relationship with daily life distances it from the mainstream idea of artistic work, the trend towards considering contributions from design as relevant to culture is now undeniable.
This exhibition, presented at the Europalia festival, held in 1985 aims to provide a picture of its evolution, together with designs created and implemented within Spain. The tour starts with a history as remote as fifteenth century Andalusian ceramic or blown glass jugs and oil bottles from Tarragona. The exhibition continues with objects from 1888 to 1960, the different bottles of Anise del Mono or Anise La Castellana, a chair designed by Gaudi or armchair by Antoni Bonet, the autogyro by Juan de la Cierva, a poster created by Miró, 1937, Wilfredo Ricart’s Pegasus car or the Talgo train by Alejandro Goicoechea. Finally, the exhibition ends at the most recent period spanning from 1960 to 1985 and is divided into graphic and industrial design.
As examples in graphic design the exhibition displays posters, magazines, and newspapers alongside paradigmatic examples such as Thomas Vellvé’s alphabet from 1971, the front page of newspaper El País by Reinhard Gade in 1977 and the line of Alianza Editorial covers created by Daniel Gil in 1975. Also found are Quorum perfume bottles by Yves Zimmermann from 1982, Albert Isern’s Copa Paper from 1983 or the signalling lights from the Barcelona metro conceived in 1983 by Josep Maria Trias among many other graphic examples of the variety produced in Spain.
In the area of industrial design various objects which have become part of our history are shown, such as the Impala and Cota motorcycles designed by Leopoldo Milá in 1961, the cruet sets by Rafael Marquina from 1961, André Ricard’s Copenhagen ashtray from 1966, the computer keyboard Seincron by Guillermo Capdevila produced in 1985 along with a wide range of furniture that gained attention at that moment because of its innovation.
Thanks to the comprehensive and chronological perspective provided by this exhibition, we can see how, at the beginning of industrialisation, there is a certain continuity between craft designs and the first designs which emerged from industry, and is even more evident in the case of graphic design. Also, within the national design a perception of relevance is given to the most industrialised areas, as in the case of Catalonia and the influence that the Nordic and Italian designs bring into our borders.
Europalia 1985, Brussels
18 May – 13 October 2022
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Isidoro Valcárcel MedinaMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación