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Cervini: «If we aim to enhance the value of current Argentine design, standing on top of its foundations can provide immense enrichment»

Analía Cervini, operations manager of Buenos Aires Creative Industries, analyzes the scope of design as a strategic tool in value building processes.

Researcher, advisor, and leader of innovative design projects focused on building future settings, Analía Cervini, alternates her activities in public management, academics, and the private sector. After graduating as an industrial designer from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), she traveled to Italy to do research for Philips Design, in Milan, and for Ivrea’s Interaction Design Institute. Due to her rich theoretical and practical formation, she became associate director of the consultant company Total Tool, in Buenos Aires. She was also responsible for the creation and coordination of the Metropolitan Design and Innovation Institute, part of the Metropolitan Design Center (CMD). She was in charge of the project that gave birth to Buenos Aires Design District.

Author of several books, such as the 8 volume collection Diseño e Innovación para PYMEs y Emprendedores published by the Pymes magazine of Clarín newspaper, Cervini is also a graduate teacher and PhD candidate at the UBA. She has been a guest scholar in different universities of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador. Cervini participates in the “Expert Opinion” section of the Old&Newsletter June issue, contributing with interesting definitions of design, strategy, territory, and patrimony.

–What is your experience with design?
–I think I was probably born thinking about design because it is something that invades my everyday thoughts and transcends me emotionally and intellectually. I studied industrial design at the UBA but I could have become an architect, garment designer or graphic designer just the same. I always wanted to work within the industry, having direct contact with that context, creating experiences in central spaces, designing, researching, writing. In Italy, I specialized myself as a design and innovation researcher working for Philips Design, in Milan, and for Ivrea Interaction Design Institute. I created and coordinated the Metropolitan Design and Innovation Institute, which belongs to the CMD. I also was an associate director for the consultant company Total Tool and operations manager of the CMD. I am currently the operations manager of Buenos Aires Creative Industries. I have written eleven books that define design and innovation. I am a graduate teacher, a PhD student, and member of the jury for several awards. I can’t help devoting myself completely to the creation, study, discussion, and practice of design in all of its fields.

–What features must a piece possess in order to be considered a fine design?
–The definition that I am currently working on, as part of my doctoral research, understands fine design as the one that produces meaning and value in multiple areas, such as, aesthetics, society, culture, environment, and economy. I call it “Design 5.0” (A. Cervini, 2017) and it is a new epistemological and methodological proposal I have created for the field.

–Does “Argentine design” have a single identity? Is there an essence of “Argentine design”?
–There is no such thing as a typified identity of Argentine design yet. It is hard to talk about the existence of a stereotypical representation Argentine design because the codification processes take place in the textual and editorial sphere, through classification and conformation of a collective imaginary that merges images and words. One aim of the book I co-wrote with Juan Kayser, Identidad Estratégica, alternativas locales en mercados globales (Buenos Aires, CMD, 2004), was to open the possibility to strategically work with identities bound to specific territories from a local context perspective. In Argentina, the opportunity –whether by chance or strategically planned- to develop significant narratives, legitimated, appropriated, and reproduced beyond the sphere of design is still unexploited. Once more, it is a process that can be either accidental or planned but that has not been undertaken yet in our country.

–¿Does Argentine society value design?
–Even if society, regarded as a user or consumer, understand quite well what is good and what is bad design, I do not think that design is understood or valued in absolute terms in Argentina. As a manager of products, services, and systems, I consider that society is not aware of design’s potential reach as a strategic, value-building tool.

–¿What is the significance of design archives and patrimonial collections?
–Design archives and patrimonial collections play a key role in the identification processes I referred to previously as unexploited areas of opportunity in this country. If we aim to enhance the value of current Argentine design, standing on top of its foundations can provide immense enrichment.

–¿Why is it necessary to safeguard the memory of design?
–Safeguarding the memory of design is necessary because the practice of starting from scratch every ten years, as if no legacy existed, is not only an Argentine vice that leads to poverty but an act of immense pride and indolence. Keeping and analyzing the memory of design is a pending debt that is closely linked to the need of strategically examining local identities.

–¿What conditions must prevail in an institution devoted to such an endeavor?
–The institution that undertakes the endeavor of safeguarding the memory of design should be defined by its rigor, professionalism, and Independence, both economically and intellectually speaking. It must also be self-sustainable, dynamic, innovative, open, interactive, global, collaborative, beautiful, and happy. It should envision and devise its strategy in a very ambitious way, planning for the next 30, 90, 120 years.

–¿Why is it that in Argentina, in contrast with the rest of the world, there are almost no museums that focus on design?
–Because design is a relatively new discipline in social and collective speech. There are excellent pieces of Argentine design –such as the Magiclick by Hugo Kogan– that few people identify. Even when those objects have been incorporated to most Argentine homes and belong to their archeology, people do not know their names, who designed them, or who produced them. It is part of the collective unawareness that surrounds our national design patrimony.

–¿What are the main future challenges for the design community?
–Its members will have to assume themselves as part of the design community, prepare themselves, and self-appoint themselves as strategic players in the processes that aim at building values and meaning within society. They will have to grow strong and value their areas of involvement. The community will have to sing more beautiful, louder, higher.