20 figures from Spanish design join together to assert the sector’s role in the ‘new normal’
22 Jun 2020 /

20 figures from Spanish design join together to assert the sector’s role in the ‘new normal’

Inma Bermúdez, Ramón Esteve, Ximo Roca, Borja García, Luis Calabuig, Juan Carlos Baumgartner, Xènia Viladás, Mayice, Boke Bazán, Javier La Casta, Nacho Lavernia, Vicent Martínez, Héctor Serrano, Pedro González, Sara de la Mora, Uqui Permui, Marisa Santamaría, Modesto Granados, Marcelo Alegre and Clara del Portillo are leading Spanish designers who share their reflections in a collaborative video piloted by Valencia World Design Capital 2022 on the role of their sector in the ‘new normal’. 

In the series of interviews, this cast of professionals opens up about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected them, how they believe that design can help resolve all the challenges facing society and what they ask of the public institutions. The videos are directed by the Design Capital communication team and produced and edited by Bocabadats Media, with graphics and images by the designer Ibán Ramón. 

The importance of looking to design for the reconstruction of the country, providing solutions to structural problems that have become evident during the crisis and the new situations we will experience in the ‘new normal’ dominate, without doubt, the demands of this selection of voices. “Design in this new scenario or paradigm should direct its efforts and focus on the essential, on what is required and necessary for the new ways of life that we are facing. New ways of life that include, moreover, economic models, focused on people, on their quality of life, the environment and sustainability,” explains Vicent Martínez, a key player in the history of Valencian design. 

Design in this new scenario or paradigm should direct its efforts and focus on the essential, on what is required and necessary for the new ways of life that we are facing.

The digital transformation, the need to bring the rhythm of life to a slower pace or the planet-wide emergency concerning the environment are matters that greatly concern these creative forces.

Inma Bermúdez, known for being the only Spanish person to design for Ikea, sees it clearly. “Honestly, I believe that the real virus of the planet is humanity. We have seen images during the lockdown of blue skies or wild animals in the canals of Venice. I have come out of the supermarket and found gloves and masks discarded on the pavement. We have gone from trying to avoid the consumption of plastic to using disposable elements. It is necessary to find sustainable solutions to this programme too. We need to reconsider this paradigm”. 

For the Galician graphic designer Uqui Permui, this crisis is an opportunity to change things. “I would like to think that this pandemic is going to change things. That we are going to stop over-relying on cars. That we are going to enjoy cities in another way. That, even in cities such as Santiago de Compostela, where I live, we are going to concentrate on the needs of citizens rather than those of tourism. All of these decisions are easier to apply with design, with solutions that take into account people and context,” she explains. 

Marta Alonso and Imanol Calderón, partners at  the Madrid-based design studio Mayice, have also reflected a great deal on the importance of nature and plant life during the pandemic. “We think there should be a rule that the façades of all city buildings should have a percentage of green areas.

I have come out of the supermarket and found gloves and masks discarded on the pavement. We have gone from trying to avoid the consumption of plastic to using disposable elements. It is necessary to find sustainable solutions to this programme too. We need to reconsider this paradigm.

” The home is also the main concern of Ximo Roca. “As design professionals, we must assist in the adaptation of spaces from a hygiene perspective. To implement projects similar to those of Northern Europe or Asia, with homes that offer self-protection against the entry of external contaminating elements.” 

For Juan Carlos Baumgartner, “design is a very important part of the ecosystem. Everything you build, builds you in turn, it isn’t just a mirror, it’s a manifestation of who we are. And society needs to be sophisticated, educated and mature to understand the importance of creation, culture and design,” argues the Mexican architect.

Immersion in the digital world is also one of the great accelerations of this crisis for a Valencian designer and architect Ramón Esteve, who places the emphasis on design to create, from both the real and digital viewpoint, an emotional connection with the clientele. “The digital world is visual and everything that excites us on-screen, we are going to accept and understand better as users. The design sector can make that connection happen,” he points out. 

Luis Calabuig, member of Odosdesign, declares: “At the moment patches are being applied to protect the people’s health, but there is no in-depth reflection on the experience of users. Only the problem is considered, and design could be the key in this process to devise how we will live in these new scenarios that are arising in the ‘new normal’.”  

The digital world is visual and everything that excites us on-screen, we are going to accept and understand better as users. The design sector can make that connection happen.

From the public administrations

One thing on which these expert voices coincide is the need to incorporate design in the decisions taken by the public administrations. For Boke Bazán, it should be a national obligation: “All the social agents, the bases of all the new structures, should trust in design as a strategic weapon to get through this.”

Marcelo Alegre, CEO of Alegre Design, has a similar vision. He explains: “This crisis has caused a great disruption that is going to allow the design sector to contribute with knowledge, solutions and improvements. To have the intuition to know what people need in the light of this ‘new normal’ and improve processes, spaces and general wellbeing.”  


Nacho Lavernia also stresses the importance of social design in view of this ‘new normal’, including the importance of supporting the industrialisation of the country and the promotion of design in this sphere. “This crisis should help us to change many things, such as the way we consume, our irrational lifestyle, our scale of values. It should serve to make us aware of the importance of communal elements, such as universal public health, public and personal education, and living from the perspective of solidarity, empathy and activism against the problems of the pollution of the planet. If only that could happen,” he acknowledges. 

This crisis should help us to change many things, such as the way we consume, our irrational lifestyle, our scale of values.

For Javier La Casta, member of Nectar, design is an ally to solve problems in a creative and efficient manner, “from micro to macro”. “From the design community we can help in problems of communication, in designing solutions for administrations that face difficulties when handling any incident and in the digital transformation of companies that need to give new solutions to their clientele,” he explains.

“The role played by the public institutions is fundamental. They should create design departments in all the local authorities of Spain, with people with criteria who are capable of deciding, planning and opining on the transversal decisions where design is applicable and that nothing could be implemented without their approval,” upholds Pedro González, CEO of EstudioPG. 

Strategic design consultant Xènia Viladàs demands two things from the public institutions: “To provide a good public education in general to ensure that we have the capacity for critical thinking and good public education on design. The other, public procurement that includes criteria of good design. The best way to disseminate a good design is by setting an example,” argues the designer. 

We need to generate collaborative round tables. To take ideas into action and to activate projects, trying specific and multidisciplinary actions implemented by experts. To learn by experimentation.

Marisa Santamaría, director of Red, emphasises the importance of saving Spanish industry and working collaboratively from different fields. “It is fundamental that we should save the industrial fabric of Spain. Not just to hold dialogues with the ministries. We need to generate collaborative round tables. To take ideas into action and to activate projects, trying specific and multidisciplinary actions implemented by experts. To learn by experimentation,” she points out.

The wishes of Héctor Serrano follow the same channel: “In the long term, I hope this crisis will make us value investment in research, prevention and public health, which are the pillars on which the solution to this crisis has been built.” 

Teamwork, cocreation and working to objectives are matters that have also been strengthened in the opinion of Sara de la Mora. “We have realised, now, more than ever, that the most important thing is to work to objectives, and with a balance between individual work and teamwork. We need to learn to be aware of our new environment and to have much more empathy. To have a joint and co-creative mindset. What all this has shown us is that we will only come through if we unite and we must work in these environments,” explains the designer.

The contribution of graphic designer Modesto Granados is similar: “The challenge is to stand united, to practise solidarity and show our best version as a society. And to show a great deal of empathy in order to add, not subtract.” “If the best scientific talents in the whole world worked together to seek the solution to this pandemic, it would be much better for humanity,” points out Mayice. 

Borja García, designer and architect of Made Studio, points to the great challenge left by this pandemic: “The greatest challenge is to learn from what has happened. It is to learn which of the things we have experienced during this time have made us better, how to have a healthier planet, more logical relationships, a more relaxed rhythm of life… Learning this is the challenge, and it is easy to forget.” The wish of Clara del Portillo, member of Yonoh, is similar. She concludes: “We need to learn to work to live, and not live to work.” 

The greatest challenge is to learn from what has happened. It is to learn which of the things we have experienced during this time have made us better, how to have a healthier planet, more logical relationships, a more relaxed rhythm of life… Learning this is the challenge, and it is easy to forget.

#EstoPasará Platform

These videos form part of the project #EstoPasará (“This will pass”), launched at the beginning of April by Valencia World Design Capital 2022, a digital platform to collect, bring together and disseminate initiatives arising from design and other creative sectors to provide solutions, relief and support in times of COVID-19.

This open and global platform has received more than 500 initiatives and projects of all kinds from Spain and abroad. From the design of facemasks, respirators or protection elements for domestic production with 3D printers, professional illustrators who raise awareness with their work from home, designers who apply their creativity to entertain children or resources and contents to learn about design at home. A collaborative project where each person has been able to add something, by submitting their contributions and ideas. 

This platform has been produced and set up thanks to decentralised and remote work undertaken in collaboration by the digital agency Néctar, CuldeSac Experience, the graphic designer Ibán Ramón and the team of Valencia World Design Capital 2022.

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