Industrial Design in Spain
Julia Galán, Jaume Gual, Joan M. Marín, Jordi Olucha, Rosalía Torrent i Rosario Vidal
El diseño industrial en España
Madrid : Ediciones Cátedra, 2010. 546 p. (Manuales Arte Cátedra). ISBN 9788437627120
"the origins and development of industrial design in Spain"
With the desire to share the origins and development of industrial design in Spain, a team made up of designer Jordi Olucha, and researchers Julia Galán, Jaume Gual, Joan M. Marín, Rosalía Torrent and Rosario Vidal (all professors at the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló), wrote the book El diseño industrial en España, which is the result of a research projecte funded by the Fundació Caixa Castelló-Bancaixa. Julia Galán was the editor.
The book is divided into eleven sections with titles that explain the content: “The Beginnings of Industrial Design in Spain”, “The Century Moves Forward. New Styles and Projects”, “The 1930's and their debates”, “The War, Exile and a Long Post-War Period”, “The Design that's coming… from the 50's and 60's”, “THe 70's. Transition Character”, “The 80's”, “The 90's and the New Century”, “Design: Communication and Emotion”, “Design and Globalization” and “Ecodesign”.
"a new contribution to the history of local design, especially in regards to the chronological and histographical perspective"
This book is the latest contribution to the history of local design, especially in regards to the chronological and historiographical perspective. It is a well-documented tool that and is very different look at design that we have seen before, such as, Diseño industrial en España (Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Juli Capella and Quim Larrea: Madrid, Plaza y Janés, 1998, catalogue MNCARS) or Nuevo Diseño Español (Juli Capella and Quim Larrea: Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, 1991), to give just two examples.
The book also restates that mainland design had its epicenter in Catalonia, especially in Barcelona, where the prinicpal creative, business and training focus lay, while highlighting the principal contributions that they brought to the area, from the end of the19th century until the 20th century. In this way, the book demonstrates the important documentation that was consulted in order to present a general panorama of Spanish design history.
Regarding the education field and fields in relation to education in Barcelona, we missed the mention of the Escuela Gratuita de Diseño (established in 1775 in Llotja de Mar), an institution that taught drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture and that became, during these times and for many years, the training grounds for many professionals that worked in industrial design. Making the school the referent to the academic field of design until the creation of technical schools, first, then University programmes, later.
As well, without leaving the world of Catalan creation, we enjoyed find the reference to the Gaudi Exhibition that took place in Paris in 1910, where the architect presented some of his original furnishings. It was the first big exportation of the “precursor” of Spanish design to the big showcase that was, and still is, the capital of the Seine.
Likewise, we need to refer to the myth "workshop of the Castle of Three Dragons" mentioned in the book as "a workshop of applied arts which supplied large numbers of objects and complements for the construction of Catalan architecture" and of which was said "they made objects formally related to modernism. " These two statements are not entirely accurate, since in 1892 Modernism was not what we know today, nor did the workshop exist as such. The following publications serve as references, written by the person signing this review: El Castell dels Tres Dragons (Ajuntament de Barcelona, Barcelona, 2009), “Gaudí i els seus col·laboradors: artistes i industrials entorn el 1900” (in Gaudí 2002 Miscel·lània, Ajuntament de Barcelona – Editorial Planeta, Barcelona, 2002), “Lluís Domènech i Montaner, en busca de la ceràmica moderna” (in the Revista de Ceràmica, Universitat Jaume I, València, 2002), “Antoni Maria Gallissà i el mite del Castell dels Tres Dragons” (in El Modernisme, Edicions L’isard, Barcelona, 2002), “Els referents estilístics de Domènech i Montaner i llurs confluències en el Museu de la Història” (in Revista d’Art, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, 2001) and “Cafè-Restaurant” (in Domènech i Montaner Any 2000, COAC, Barcelona. 2000).
In this respect, the publication also makes a general view on various aspects that have to do with Spanish design without going further into the possible variables that have been found in recent years and which relate to the purpose of our authors. When it is confirmed that Mies van der Rohe lost his possible victory in Spain with his steel furniture, because here the architects preferred wood and reed, we think that the idea does not fit into Catalan reality, where GATCPAC architects, despite admiring the simplicity of traditional furniture, proposed furniture made of pipes and followed (and finally copied) the modern furniture made from curved steel that originated in central Europe. Some limited architects, due to the level of our industry, but not with the idea or intention of their designs, how you can check in the proposals what they were able to due.
"one of the achievements is the clear chronology of the facts and the introduction of the main players and events"
One of the achievements of Industrial design in Spain is the clear chronology of the facts and the introduction (and importance) of the main actors and events: authors, companies, styles or movements are well described and represented. Probably, we would have liked a more profound analisys on the backward step due to that Spanish Civil War first, and Franco's dictatorship, later. It also would have been interesting to know the regime proposals, no matter how contrary they were to european and american modernity of that period.
The book also tries to explore design ideology, in its several stages, and mixes the historical view (chronological) with theoretical approach, as ecodesign may be.
"we found that the slant on the heritage of design was missing"
Finally, we found that the slant on the heritage of design was missing. There is not one entry that refers to the teams at museum, foundations and organizations, some centenary, that conserver objects and are an indisputible reference for current designers. It refers to some museums, such as the MoMA, the Vitra, Victoria & Albert and the Design Museum, but only when mentioning specific works from their collections, ignoring the enormous task these institutions have taken on for the preservation and dissemination of design (often serving as the engine and stimilus for the sector) and their close relationships with the designers themselves. It would be difficult to explore the history of design without studying the heritage management, that which observes, identifies and conserves the best examples of what is produced nationally. For this reason, we think that it would have been a perfect opportunity to approach this them or explain in the introduction why it was overlooked. A good example is the case of that while some of the works of the Museu de les Arts Decoratives de Barcelona were presented but the museum itself is not mentioned despite the fact that it has the ony permanent collection of Spanish industrial design in the entire nation.
Also missing is a state of affairs of the editorial, for example, in terms of published titles, and, in particular web pages and blogs, it is well known that the internet is the main communication platform in the world of design, both for the authors, as well as, the production companies.
In general, El diseño industrial en España is a useful and sobering publication for those who want to delve into the passionate world of our design.
Collections, DHUB Museus