Imagine a character from another world. An alien. A being that doesn’t know culture, traditions and human ways of living. Imagine that he/she/it lands in Barcelona at the end of October 2010 and finds a newspaper with “design” written in the front page. Imagine it’s a clever character. How would we explain to that fellow what design is? Spanish and Catalan dictionaries describe design as “the activity aimed to get useful and beautiful objects serial production. We stop and think it over: “Serial production?”. Does an architect design his buildings aiming to reproduce them? If we look it up in Cambridge’s dictionary it says: “a drawing or set of drawings showing how a building or product is to be made and how it will work and look”. There are a lot of questions around design. As seen, languages are the first in confusing everything. Design, from an abstract point of view, involves a great amount of creativity: we design houses, products, but strategies and plans as well. Moreover, we design socially, culturally, environmentally, and economically… You might ask: why do we need all that? Honestly, we just want to explain our point of view about design and why we bank on it.

Design in a financial crisis period

Economic crisis has been in our lives for a few years already. Someone said it would be a long period. Optimists would deny it. Nevertheless, economic crisis has made the financial system teeter. And everyone has had to adapt to the new situation to move on. The design industry, in whichever discipline –interior design, architecture, graphic design, and editorial design…-, has been seriously affected. Who will survive? Neither good nor bad ones, but people with better ability to adapt themselves to a new stage. We’ve got reduced budgets and the same need of satisfying our customers, and we don’t have to forget to keep our market position: challenges are not easy. Although we all know we have to move on, we’ve seen a big mistake in the market: a lack of effort (in time and inversion) in creativity and design. If you manage to avoid this mistake, you are going to be reinforced when the crisis passes.

Design as sign of our cultural identity

We are all doing big efforts to move forward. Proof of this is the intense activity in the design industry in the last few months: “Design Week” editions in cities such as Barcelona, Moscow, Mexico City…; Open House Barcelona (following London), Feria Hábitat Valencia, Construmat exhibition, WAF architecture show, New York design and architecture audiovisual festival… it’s a non-stop list! Design helps us to build a collective identity and the way that foreigners see us. Have you ever thought about how it’d be to visit our city as a foreigner? We’d probably visit Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral… but we would pay attention on shop signs or street banderols, even with graffiti that would remind us of Banksy.

Design as a driving force

Design has to satisfy our customer’s needs, as well as improve our brand identity. We strategically define how we want to be seen and remembered. We design our attributes so that our work is highly valued. That’s why customers and companies feel in the same way part of an industry that moves thousand of Euros, illusions and surprises.

Design to make feel good

We can’t end a design discussion like this, without talking about design as a force for personal, emotional and intellectual development. Design is about living in an organised but warm house, it’s about finding easily what you are looking for in a shop; it’s about looking at ladies and gents’ toilet signs and giggling; design is about having a personal order in our chaos. That’s why design makes us feel good and how we understand it and use it to make sense of the world around us.

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