In GANDIABLASCO we launched the XIV call for the International Outdoor Furniture Design Contest, dedicated this year to the design of an outdoor lamp. Therewith we want to give the opportunity to new design talents. And for this we challenge you to create a creative, innovative and also functional outdoor luminaire, which is able to integrate into any outdoor environment.
José A. Gandía-Blasco Canales plus a jury of professionals specialized in different areas will reward the best projects.
We introduce you to Marcelo Ghio:
Hi Marcelo, we are delighted that you are a jury in the XIV edition of our International Outdoor Furniture Design Contest. Thank you!
– Thank you very much for allowing me to accompany you in this edition of the contest!
Among other things you are an expert in branding. Did you know us before you got invited?
– Of course! But not only did I know you for my work with Experimenta, but also because I am passionate about design – I am a designer – and I have a special interest in the work of Latin American professionals and brands.
To give a little light to the matter, according to your opinion, which are the essential values of a brand?
– Brand is the promise of a unique experience … and its fulfillment. At the same time it is a source of value that is sustained from a clear and recognizable identity, building a virtuous circle of affectivity and trust with its audiences.
That said, the core values of a brand are configured from its own identity, its “own self”, and from there it is projected to be perceived in a coherent and consistent manner by people.
The clarity with which the brand communicates and the honesty with which it maintains the speech must have a direct correlation with its actions. That is what we call brand promise, which must be in tune with the product or service throughout its entire length. Put in simple words: it is not enough for you to say that quality is central in your brand, if your products, processes or customer service do not have it.
The values of the brand are transcendent, not circumstantial. They are the things in which as an organization you believe in and that, at the same time, are in tune with the beliefs and values of the society to which you are addressing.
A brand, today more than ever, puts people at the center of the strategy, so that transcendent human values are a fundamental starting point, something that I affirm in my book “Oxitobrands: human brands for an emotional market”.
We know that you were born in Argentina although you have been in Spain for many years, we would like to know how design lives in Argentina and the designers you would highlight. Could you talk about South American design, or do you have a very strong entity according to the country?
– I have been out of Argentina for ten years, six of whom I lived in Peru – where I came to serve as dean of the faculty of design and communication of an important educational institution – and for four years I have been in Spain.
Design in Argentina, especially since 1985 when it became massive thanks to the emergence of multiple public and private educational alternatives, has gradually become a tool for social and economic transformation. But of course it did not start from scratch, since it was the heir of a tradition of dedicated designers in different areas of the profession – many of them drivers of the birth of the different careers in the public university – that for many years had installed the word design in society, along with the contribution from the theory of many other professionals. Ricardo Blanco, Ronald Shakespear, Marta Zátonyi, Rubén Fontana, Susana Saulquin, Carlos Méndez Mosquera, Guillermo González Ruiz, Helena Homs, María Ledesma, are some of the endless references that founded the basis of what we understand today as design.
Ricardo Blanco used to reflect on whether it made sense to talk about the existence of an “industrial design” in Argentina, considering that the industries were in danger of extinction due to economic setbacks. And that reflection led him to affirm that yes, since we designed for people, to provide them a specific utility, regardless of whether the manufacturing of the products resulted from an industrial or artisanal process. We could even say that he anticipated his time, because today – for reasons of economy, sustainability or ecology – we are witnessing the resurgence of an artisanal design style.
As for what you ask me if we can talk about a “South American design” it is a bit more complex, since defining the existence of a national or regional identity in the design, implies defining the root of the national or regional identity, something that is still far from resolved. Because we could venture that this national identity should be expressed in a common idea of the Nation, in a sum of values that integrate and twin us. Values articulated through a “way of being” expressed in a common culture that brings together aspects such as beliefs, myths, uses, customs, to name just a few. Design, due to its universal nature and often sustained in the search for its functional essence, could be considered as an activity that hardly fits into the so-called “national identity”.
However, the design has shown exceptional products that have reflected – and reflect – the cultural context and circumstances in which they were created, although over time that “local accent” tends to be diluted. A character that does remain, for example, in the “chicha graphic” of Peru, in textiles from different regions of Latin America, in lenga products from southern Argentina or in Mexican wrestling posters. Curiously, where the academy gives rise to the impulse of the popular, identity traits emerge in a stark and powerful way.
It could be said, then, that the design is made by and for people who belong to a culture defined in time and place, and integrated into a superior idea: the Nation.
In this way, the emerging product will be (happily) conditioned by a way of being, seeing and feeling the world from a local and particular perspective. Finally constituting a recognizable and own identity trait.
In addition, you are Director of strategy, content and editorial of Experimenta magazine, we love it, we follow it from the beginning. What approach are you giving to the magazine? And your future pathway?
– Experimenta is, for thirty years, a leading brand of Latin American design. Since its inception, it sought to integrate the academy, the professional world and all those people who live for and because of design, in a proposal that reflects the thinking, production and passion of designers.
Our main objective is to be the point of contact between the professional world and society as a whole, so that the design is understood and valued in its true dimension. And we understand it as a transversal activity, which crosses each layer of society, facilitating people’s lives and improving the environment.
We want to be the space that designers feel as their own, a frame of reference, which communicates as a means in a clear, simple and coherent way – without abandoning professional discourse – the scope of the profession and discipline, spreading what it is and what it is for the design in the construction of a more humane and efficient society. To be recognized in our true dimension and not as simple complementary actors, embellishers of the environment.
For us, design thinking is a common matrix that diversifies into different project areas and specialties. That transversal and integrative vision is the spirit of our magazine – what we call our “flagship” – and of the publishing house.
And two years ago we made an even stronger commitment in that direction, redesigning the product from the conceptual and the visual to reveal this vision.
We are an outlet and we focus on that role. An outlet to disseminate the production, reflection and activities associated with design, from a positive perspective that highlights both the work of established brands and designers, as well as those who have recently joined the profession.
Our commitment to the future has to do with continuing to consolidate the magazine; expand the network of agreements and activities with associations, schools and professional organizations –fundamental from our perspective-; and grow our publishing house that today has an Editorial Fund of more than 40 works in continuous increase.
But for this to be sustained, we need to continue to have the support of the different actors involved in the world of design, so that the commitment to the consolidation of our activity is a task for everyone, in which each one adds his part.
The theme of our contest is the design of an outdoor lamp or luminaire collection. Would you reveal which one is your favorite?
– It’s a very compromised question being sworn! But seriously, there are many that I like and I will surely be unfair by citing just a few. The Disa lamp, by the architect and designer José Antonio Corderch; the Cesta and TMC lamp by Miguel Milá; the Fortuny designed by Mariano Fortuny; the Lámpara Fase Presidente, by Luis Pérez Oliva and Pedro Martín; Tatu by André Ricard; among other. To which should be added a huge number of luminaires that have been designed in the last twenty years, the result of the talent and ability of great designers and designers, from the FollowMe by Inma Bermúdez to the Jugs of Santiago Sevillano, passing through José’s Pyramid Gandía-Blasco Canales.
But I know that I am being unfair to other outstanding professionals … it is very difficult because there are many very good!
We launched the contest to support emerging talent anywhere in the world. What future do you see in the new generations in Spain? And in the countries where you have lived or worked?
– The teacher Alan Fletcher said: design is not necessary, it is inevitable. I am convinced that the best is always yet to come, but for that desirable future to be possible, we must work today. And for emerging talent to grow and consolidate, it is essential to continue building solid foundations for the profession.
If we understand that the future is the projected present, the future of design depends on what we do today in each spot, from our small or large daily contribution.
I am optimistic, I am convinced that the design, the friendly interface between the human being and his environment – quoting Otl Aicher – will be, from a positive perspective, inevitable.
Nothing is comparable to enjoying an evening in the light of the stars or under the moon, do you have any memories of those magical moments lived outdoors that you want to tell us?
– We all have treasured magical moments, romantic or family, in the light of the stars. Walking under the starry sky of Paris with my wife and children is one of them.
But also from the bond with other professionals. Some years ago, at an event in Costa Rica, we were invited with other colleagues to a dinner in the light of the moon and the stars. Suddenly the organizers bring small wooden tables and distribute them through the park along with firm chairs. I was with Javier Mariscal, with whom I had spent the day and with Oliverio Toscani, so that we came naturally to the first round of wine.
In one of the small tables we accommodate all three. Javier sat on my left and Oliver on my right, and with a portion of ceviche in front, glasses of wine and beer under the starry mantle of the incredible sky of Costa Rica, we talked for hours about life, profession and many other things that of course will remain in the intimacy of that dialogue. I will only say that life gives us, sometimes, moments of pure poetry. And that is priceless, because its value is infinite.