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Baldomá: «Design reflects the social fabric and its industrial, technological, cultural, and human development; not preserving it would lead us to deny our identity»

Gabriela Baldomá, Preservation and Restoration consultant for IDA Foundation, reveals the importance of preserving processes and project records of great masters in order to produce innovative ideas.

Preservation of archives and collections is one of the most important tasks within a project like IDA. Despite it develops silently and indoors, it represents a major part of the institutional work. To that end, Gabriela Baldomá’s role is of utmost importance. Born in Rosario, she earned her Fine Arts degree from the National University of Rosario (UNR) and she is currently working on her Master’s thesis in National Artistic and Bibliographic Preservation and Restoration at the National University of San Martín (UNSAM), as well as a PhD student in the Compared Arts Theory program of the National University of Tres de Febrero (UNTREF). She was chief of restoration at the Juan Castagnino Fine Arts Museum and head of preservation at the Contemporary Art Museum of Rosario (MACRO). She currently directs the Modern and Contemporary Art Research, Conservation, and Restoration Institute (IICRAMC) in her hometown, while also performing as custodian of the León de Ferrari artwork collection kept at the Augusto and León de Ferrari Art and Archive Foundation (FALFAA) in Buenos Aires.

This month, the seasoned professional was interviewed by the Expert Opinion section of the Old&Newsletter and explains why it is necessary to examine both final productions and their development processes.

–What is your experience in the field of design?
–I am marked by design. First and foremost, as a consumer and, in second place, as a custodian. In the world of art, I work as a custodian-restorer of heritage collections; in the world of design, I manage the preservation of the IDA Foundation archival collection, which gathers national production embodied in different materials. This is both a great pleasure and a huge challenge: it is an extremely complex process, from its recording and classifying to its storage and accessibility.

–What features define pieces that possess a fine design?
–Fine design is timeless. It is achieved when the balance between aesthetics and functionality is perfect. It is true, as well, that creativity and innovation are also seductive when it comes to evaluating a piece.

–Is there a unique “Argentine design” identity? Is there a single “Argentine design”?
–I take for granted that design is a reflection of society’s culture, in consequence, it is difficult for me to conceive the existence of a single Argentine design identity, since we live in an increasingly globalized world. In this respect, I am always astounded by the creations of the great Argentinian designers that have defined the history of national design while transcending borders.

–Is design socially valued in Argentina?
–The first process that helped enhance the social appraisal of design took place in the late 50’s and early 60’s when industrial development encouraged the creation of design departments in Argentine universities. The link design has with the objects we use daily is very recent and it is accessible only to part of our society. There is still a long way to go, particularly if we take into account the ever growing social inequity.
On the other hand, we consume design inadvertently all the time: signalization on the streets, children’s playground, and the tennis shoes we wear are some examples of design partnered with technological innovations that we consume on a daily basis.

–What is the significance of archives and design patrimonial collections?
–Design archives are primary sources for researchers and students, since they contain information about the evolution of materials and the historical development of techniques. They also reveal design processes and the working style of great designers. The study of that sort of documents always catalyzes new ideas.
Archives are complemented by heritage collections that gather iconic pieces, where researchers, entrepreneurs, students, and all interested parties can truly access design, through all the senses.

–Why is it necessary to preserve the memory of design?
– Design reflects the social fabric and its industrial, technological, cultural, and human development; not preserving it would lead us to deny our identity.

–What institutional conditions are required to accomplish it?
–Any institution that aspires to safeguard the memory of design that belongs to a specific society would not only have to gather documents and iconic pieces, but also guarantee its preservation, use, and accessibility. That would require an appropriate physical facility and a well-trained team of experts.

–Why is it that in Argentina, in contrast with the rest of the world, there are almost no museum spaces devoted to design?
–Argentina, and Latin America in general, has been marked by economic crisis and social inequity. Few governments allocate resources to that kind of projects, since they do not foster popular support… Or, could it be that we, Argentinians, have not been able to demand institutional spaces that preserve our own legacy?

–What future challenges will be faced by the design community?
–Designers are increasingly focusing on creating in a sustainable way that is sensitive to environmental demands. Luckily, they are also trying to produce inclusive design.