Do you Work or Design? New Visual Communication 1980-2003, Design Museum of Barcelona

The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona is presenting an exhibition from 9 June entitled”Do you work or design? A new collection from the Museu del Disseny, Barcelona’s new cultural heritage New visual communication. 1980-2003″. A panoramic exhibition: from the graphic design «boom» to audiovisual graphics.

Curated by Raquel Pelta, the exhibition offers a journey through the history of the graphic design in Catalonia and Spain that emerged in the 1980s, along with the cultural re-awakening and modernisation of institutions and businesses brought about with the advent of democracy, until 2003, when the Year of Design was held and new practices in the discipline appeared. The new permanent exhibition looks at how graphic design has explained more than two decades of big political and social transformations.

An exhibition featuring the works of more than two hundred professionals through a selection of nearly six hundred items making up the Museum’s graphic-design collection and which represent an era of extraordinary vitality, explosion of popular culture and new professional challenges. From the «boom» of the1980s that raised the visibility of designers to the establishment of the profession in the 1990s, with the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and the arrival of the Macintosh, to the emergence, in the early 2000s, of new perspectives and specialities.

It includes a large variety of works: institutional commissions, corporate images, graphic campaigns for big events, editorial works and social graphics; as well as a large typology of formats: books, magazines, posters, record covers, brochures, flyers, packaging and even webpages, interactive or graphic, among other things. It features works by some of the most outstanding representatives of the time, names such as Enric Satué, America Sanchez, Oscar Mariné, Mariscal, Peret, Pati Núñez, Juan Gatti, José María Cruz Novillo, Yves Zimmermann, Nacho Lavernia Pilar Villuendas, Claret Serrahima, Paco Bascuñán, Isidro Ferrer, Enric Aguilera; the Eumografic, Grafica, BaseBCN, Mucho, Suma and Vasava studios.

The 1980s and 1990s were peak moments for graphic design. The Design Museum inaugurated the exhibition, ” Designs or work? The new visual communication. 1980-2003 “, focused on explaining the ways in which graphic design has come to address major political and social transformations during the 1980’s and 90’s.

After the death of Franco, with Spain’s full integration into Europe and the establishment of democracy, designers had the opportunity to participate in a process of creating and transforming the image of public institutions, private organisations and companies.

It was an era of extraordinary vitality, euphoria and celebration which has been described as a design boom. Fuelled largely by institutional support and the media, this boom left us an expression which became celebrated and reflected its popularity: “Do you design or work?” But graphic designers, far from being frivolous, designed and worked intensely, as can be seen if we analyse this period when design began to have a major social presence.

With the advent of the Macintosh computer and the arrival of the new millennium, new perspectives and specialities began to emerge. Spanish graphic designers managed to consolidate their profession and project themselves abroad, while they also began to grapple with new challenges such as sustainability, information overload and the increasing multiculturality of our societies.

The Museu del Disseny as a benchmark centre for studying and preserving graphic design brings continuity, with Do you work or design?, to the exhibition Graphic design: from trade to profession (1940-1980) which was officially opened by the Museum and focused on works by pioneers in the discipline. Now, thanks to this new semi-permanent exhibition and continuing the aim to make graphic design accessible to the city as cultural heritage, the exhibition features works whose formal language, power of communication and place in the collective memory enable visitors to go over the currents and concepts that shaped the development of graphic design for more than two decades. A period shaken by the influence of the post-modernist thinking that led to a new way of understanding design.

Thanks to the free Wheris app, the exhibit is accessible for the visually impaired.

Thanks to Wheris , the free mobile phone application, and with the collaboration of the Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities (IMPD) and the Barcelona City Council, people with visual disabilities only have to approach the mobile to any of the pieces in the exhibition that include accessibility to listen to an audio description of the piece (by Access Friendly).

In total there are seven pieces selected, one for each area of ​​the exhibition, so that they are accessible to the general public. A touch version of the selected pieces with various textures and reliefs (Esparbé and Touch Graphics Europe) was also created.

Wheris was one of the winners in the ‘Apps for Everyone’ competition and was recognized by the jury as the best new application with the ‘Best New App’ award.

The Design Museum offers specialized programming for social organizations that work with people at risk of social exclusion through Apropa Cultura , an inclusive cultural leisure initiative.

80s The graphic design boom
The time of social change and modernization of both institutions and companies brought new professional challenges and more visibility for designers.

Political and social commitment
With the establishment of democracy, the designers created the image of political parties, associations and numerous social demands.

Culture, an explosion of vitality
There was a renewal of high culture and an explosion of popular culture. These were the years of the Movida Madrileña, in which music, film and publishing became the protagonists.

New image, new communication
With the normalization of political life and the entry of Spain into the European Economic Community in 1986, institutions and companies redefined their communication, and corporate design was greatly encouraged.

Barcelona 92, avant-garde and Mediterranean
The graphic design of the Olympic Games conveyed the identity of Barcelona. The Cobi emphasized by its rupturist character and reached a great popularity.

Between Seville and Madrid
The Universal Exhibition of Seville and Madrid European Capital of Culture were part of the policy of modernization and international projection of Spain.

Communicate the design
Public institutions and professional associations organized international exhibitions to promote design, with specialized publications emerging.

90s – 2003 More than a boom
The Macintosh computer entered graphic design studios in a period of economic crisis but also of consolidation of the profession.

New technologies and experimentation
The use of the Mac prompted formal experimentation, which was especially welcomed in the most transgressive culture and electronic music. It also facilitated the design of new fonts.

The profession is consolidating
Despite the crisis of 1993, which seriously affected design, this profession was consolidating. Institutions were set up, and professional associations remained active.

International projection
Some designers, whose work became known internationally in the previous decade, continued their outreach and even opened studios abroad.

The return of the social graph
AIDS, the ecological disaster caused by the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in Galicia or the war in Iraq, were the causes that mobilized designers between the late 1990’s and 2003.

2003: the Year of Design
The Year of Design replaced the Spring of Design (1991-2001) to “unveil the new way of understanding creation and design”.

On screen
Computerization of design drove the advancement of moving graphics, which found its place in film, television and the Internet.

Audiovisual graphic
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, television channel identity was created and renewed.

Credit securities
The process of modernizing Spanish cinema led to a new design of credit films.

Web design started in Spain in 1996.

Interactive design started shyly in educational publishers and museums.

Design Museum of Barcelona
The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, is a new center of Barcelona’s Institute of Culture, which works to promote better understanding and good use of the design world, acting as a museum and laboratory. It focuses on 4 branches or design disciplines: space design, product design, information design and fashion.

The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona is the Catalan capital’s centre devoted to the arts of the object and design. The collection presents more than 70,000 objects, comprising decorative arts, ceramics, textiles and clothing, and graphic arts.

The Museum is the result of the merging of several previous existing museums, such as the Museu de les Arts Decoratives, the Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària and the Gabinet de les Arts Gràfiques collection. The opening of the new headquarters, located on Plaça de les Glòries, next to Torre Agbar, was set gradually during 2014.