“Epic: Feats of Argentine Design” is a multi-format curatorial program that aims to review a century of history based on archival material from IDA Foundation and other collections. This second issue about the chapter 1950, addresses the boom of mass consumption in contrast to the consolidation of modern design.
#EpicAnniversary | INTI
The National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), a decentralized agency of the Ministry of Production, a key organism for the boom of national production, was founded on December 27, 1957. Since its inception, its main goal has been to promote knowledge oriented to foster manufacturing and construction aided by a network of research and development centers throughout the country. Like other institutions, such as CONICET (National Scientific Research Council), INTI originated within a context defined by policies, strategies, and actions that contributed to improving the quality of goods and complex services. This institution gives technological and scientific support: it guarantees product quality and promotes material improvement in hyper-qualified areas. Besides, it provides high-level, professional services in several specialized fields, such as construction and architecture; textile design; industrial design, among others. INTI had a strong link with CIDI, the Industrial Design Research Center (1962-1988), an organism that promoted and generated strategies that fostered the professionalization of the field, like the Good Design award, which acknowledged companies and its serial productions. Award-winning designs were included in several themed exhibitions. As a state-funded institution, INTI has been able to connect public and private spheres by regulating shared parameters in the field and verifying the appropriate participation of foreign companies within the national manufacturing sector.
#EpicAnniversary | General San Martín Theatre
The artistic and cultural agitation of the time demanded the creation of a specialized urban space. The construction of the General San Martín Theatre (TGSM) began in June 1954 at 1530 Corrientes Avenue. Mayor Jorge Sabaté appointed architects Mario Roberto Álvarez and Macedonio Oscar Ruiz as project managers. The theatre opened on May 25, 1960 and immediately became one of the most avant-garde theatres in Latin America. A decade later, the San Martín Cultural Center (CCSSM) complex, facing Sarmiento Street, was finished. The project became a great "modern center" which included: an entertainment hall –with capacity for 1200 spectators–, a Comedy Theatre, a micro-cinema, an exhibition room, a Drama Art School, dressing rooms, workshops, 6 building floors for offices, parking lots, and a confectionary.
The architectonic plan envisioned functional solutions based on rationalist principles, considering location and space partitions. The project was based on research about spaces for stage performance, including sound and lights. Mural paintings created by Argentine artists were displayed in indoor spaces. The most renowned of these big-format pieces was "The Birth of Argentine Theatre" (1960) by Luis Seoane. The furniture was designed by CH Studio, led by Alberto Churba, the firm that created the "CH15 seat" for the CCSM conference room. This endeavor, finished in record time due to imminent political changes, was documented in the book published by Infinito Printing Press, showing blueprints, photographs, and illustrations by artist Jorge de La Vega. Between the 60's and 80's, the TGSM hosted the Buenos Aires Modern Art Museum, previously without location and, thus, named by the press the "Ghost Museum".
#EpicContext | Epicenter Rodríguez Peña 1320
In 1954, inside an appealing establishment located in the intersection of Rodríguez Peña and Juncal streets, a spot of intense circulation within the capital city, a group of designers and architects opened a furniture design studio, a publishing company, and an advertisement agency. The firm, named Harpa (1953) –founded by Jorge Enrique Hardoy, Leonardo Aizenberg, José Rey Pastor, and Eduardo Aubone–, Infinito Printing Press (1954) –led by Carlos Méndez Mosquera and Rey Pastor–, and Cícero Publicity (1954-1996) –managed during its initial stage by Lala and Carlos Méndez Mosquera–.
Experts and creators worked simultaneously in the ground and mezzanine floors of one of the few modern buildings of the time, planned by Arq. María Angelina Camicia, Arq. Néstor Jorge Espinosa and Arq Juan Carlos José Lafosse in 1947. The storefront showcased designs by Harpa, "integral, modern furnishing". Influenced by concrete art, the group's pieces expressed a constructivist language and were made with materials like wood, chromed metal, and glass. The modern vision was clearly shown in the "Junco" system, a project aimed at revisiting the country seat. In 1962, Harpa presented the exhibition "Contemporary Furniture" at the Buenos Aires Modern Art Museum in the TGSM, a showcase sponsored by the National Fund for the Arts. Rey Pastor managed the furniture company until his death in 1979.
After working in the magazine nueva visión (1951-1957) and the agency axis (1951-1953), Carlos Méndez Mosquera and Rey Pastor founded Infinito Printing Press, specialized in architecture, design, and urbanism publications. Its main aim was to promote Latin American production based on modern principles that arrived from Europe among Spanish-native readers. They translated work authored by pioneers of the modern movement, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, William Morris, Moholy-Nagy, Pier Luigi Nervi, and Mies van der Rohe. They also created their own editorial collections, for example, "Planning and Housing" and "Design and Visual Arts". Infinito still publishes today and it has been led by Cristina Lafiandra since 2009.
Méndez Mosquera and his creative partner founded the agency Cícero Advertising, the communication studio that created the architecture magazine summa in 1963. During the firm's initial stage, Lala M. M. acted as art director and graphic designer, supported by Zulema González Chávez as her assistant. Some of the agency's clients were the pharmaceutical company Galta, the drink establishment Pichin, Domus Publishing House, and the Central Architect Society. The agency also designed collections and ads for Infinito and summa –the magazine's first four issues were assembled in 1320 Rodríguez Peña Street–. Harpa members supported the magazine: Aizenberg performed as the publication's editorial director since 1966 and launched 14 issues.
#EpicContext | Advertisement Drawing
In the 1950's the Argentine editorial circuit included several graphic magazines that highlighted the craft of illustrators and cartoonists as popular culture agents. Even from a young age, Enrique Lipszyc (Buenos Aires, 1932-2020) –who belonged to a family of Polish immigrants–, possessed an enterprising spirit and a strong artistic vocation that led him to sell the drawing course designed by the cartoonist Alex Raymond. In 1951, he began promoting training by mail in cartoon magazines. Afterwards, Lipszyc opened the Panamerican School of Art (EPA), alongside collaborators like Alberto Breccia and Hugo Pratt. The faculty who taught the illustration course "Course of the famous artists" granted students a diploma at the end of the class. The learning modules, which had an entrepreneurial perspective, enjoyed massive success due to their cartoon-style advertising. Serial issues with sequenced lessons were gradually sent to the students' home.
The training aimed at providing technical tools to use paintbrushes, apply techniques like scratchboard or sgrafitti, draw human anatomy and italics, learn about typography, and develop advertisement related projects such as ads and posters. Many young artists took the EPA course and later worked in graphic media. In 1962, Lipszyk opened a branch of the school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His brother David, was in charge of EPA in the Buenos Aires. In 1968, the 1st World Comic Book Biennial was held, organized by EPA and the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella.
He also published several books in his own printing house, Lipssic Editorial, based on his research and discovered material. Some of these titles are “The world comic. Technique. Realization. Story” (1958) and “Drawing understood through the character of 150 famous artists" (that book includes contemporary Argentine creators). For the latter reason, many consider him the first historian of Argentine cartoons.
Other schools functioned before EPA, for example, the Argentine Drawing Institute, linked to the “Zier” schools, which was known as the "most modern" school related to radio, television, and radio training. Simultaneously, Hobby magazine, published by the editorial of the same name, also stuck to the "do it yourself" philosophy by promoting courses by mail such as the class “12 lessons in artistic and publicity drawing” –delivered by José Serrano–.
#EpicContext | Córdoba, Auto Hub
Between the 1940's and the 1960's, Córdoba became a metal hub: State Aeronautical and Mechanical Industries (IAME) and companies like IKA and Fiat Concord established in the province, encouraged by favorable, macro-economic state policies aimed at fostering the development of the military and automotive industry. This process took place during an era defined by accelerated industrialization, a process that began in the 1930's and climaxed in the 1970's and followed the guidelines established in the National Steel Plan (1947). The availability of skilled workers trained in new technical schools boosted this endeavor. All these elements together constituted a high-level factory network that made the country an international power.
The Military Airplane Factory -linked to the Aviation Ministry- and the Aeromechanical Institute of Córdoba (1927) provided fertile ground for the creation of IAME (1952). The company operated in a facility that extended over 240.000 meters and hosted around 9.000 workers, technicians, and managers. It developed the “Puma” motorcycles (c. 1952), the “Pampa” tractors (c. 1952), the “Justicialista” sports car (1953-1955), and the “Rastrojero” vehicles –a pick up built with tractor parts–. In 1947, IAME designed the prototype of a fighter plane named “Pulqui”. In 1950 the aircraft performed its initial flight.
IKA, Argentina Kaiser Industries (1955-1967), was the national branch of the American company Kaiser-Frazer Corp. (KFC). Its headquarters were located in Córdoba following an agreement signed by Henry Kaiser and President J. D. Perón. The pact also established a mixed partnership between IAME and IKA. The State-owned enterprise provided the skilled workforce, factory equipment and simple parts; while the American company invested in the factory complex and imported parts that were not produced in Argentina -it contributed with a small percentage of the auto manufacturing process aiming at incentivizing local participation and development-; at the same time, national raw material was provided by Tandil Metals (SIAF - SIAM). By then, KFC produced in the USA the innovative, double-traction “Jeep Willys” vehicles and, in Argentina, IKA produced from 140 to 200 vehicles on a daily basis in its 185.000 square meters complex that include 8 plants, including the models “Carabela”, “Estanciera”, and “Torino”. The company implemented several social-oriented strategies: a bilingual school for the workers, an internal training facility known as the Technical Institute, a center for physical and sports activities, and, alongside the Public Relations Office, it launched the First Contemporary Visual Arts Contest in Córdoba (1958) and the American Art Biennial, events that took place several times throughout the 1960's. The magazine Gacetika, an internal publication, was issued in 1957 to show the company's commitment with social responsibility practices.
Since the beginning of the XXth century, FIAT, the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (1899), imported cars, buses, and tractors to Argentina. By the 1920's, the company opened outlets to sell Italian, imported products and provide technical assistance. In 1952 it finally established a 60.000 square meters production plant in Ferreyra. The complex, named Fiat Concord, had the purpose of providing IAME: "technical aid to create, assemble, and implement effective work practices at the Tractor Factory, while granting exclusive manufacturing licences". The plant had more than 500 automated machines and tools used in different production stages.
The partnership between private and public industrial companies, enabled the creation of jobs, the generation of economic and social wellness, and the growth of subsidiary industries.
#EpicFeatured | Tomás Gonda
Tomás Gonda (Hungary, 1926–New York, 1988) was a designer and artist trained at the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts. He lived in Buenos Aires from 1949 to 1958, after staying briefly in Uruguay as a WWII refugee. He immediately joined the community of European immigrants and theoreticians that had settled in Argentina at the time, thus participating from the national avant-garde movement and working closely with friends such as Tomás Maldonado and Susi Aczel, for whom he developed the first catalogue of the company Interieur Forma (Aczel, Eisler, and Hackel).
He worked for the agencies Lintas and Ricardo De Luca before opening his own studio: Gonda Diseño (1956-1958). During that period, he designed pamphlets and packaging for different companies –Gador Laboratory, ATMA–, publications –Argentine Japanese Culture Institute-, nueva visión Publishing House, and Doble P–, and promotional pieces –Bonino Gallery, Krayd Gallery and modern artists group–. In this stage, Gonda stood out due to the graphic systems he created using a well-thought selection of fonts and colors that showed an influence of geometric art and oriental culture.
His friend Maldonado sent him to Germany in 1958 to teach at the Hochschule für Gestaltung -better known as the Ulm School of Design-. He worked there as a professor and he designed several issues of the university magazine until 1966. In 1967 he moved to Italy, where he collaborated in the magazine Casa Bella, directed by Maldonado. In 1977, he settled in New York and opened Gonda Design. Some of his most iconic clients were Herman Miller, Pirelli, Lufthansa, and Wilkhahn Sitzmöbel.
His connection with Argentina remained intact regardless of the physical distance. In 1979 he designed the brand for the 25th anniversary of Infinito Publications and the cover of the book “El destino circular de la Argentina 1810-1984” written by Eduardo Tiscornia in 1984.
Tomas Gonda: A life in Design (1993) by Philip B. Meggs –published by School Of the Arts, University Commonwealth Virginia–, compiles most of his professional career through the testimonies of Massimo Vignelli, Carlos Méndez Mosquera, and Tomás Maldonado, among others. In 2001, to complement the publication, the exhibition Collection of Argentine Design showcased at the Buenos Aires Modern Art, displaying part of his graphic work. Many pieces shown at the exhibition were recently collected by IDA with the aim of bearing witness of the talented artist through South America.
#EpicFeatured | Colette Boccara
Colette Boccara (Paris, 1921–Mendoza, 2006) was an architect, artist, and industrial ceramist trained in the School of Architecture at the FCEyn (UBA). In 1945, she co-founded an architecture studio alongside Amancio Williams, Delfina Gálvez, Jorge Butler, and César Jannello. In 1948, she moved to Mendoza in the company of her life partner César Jannello. As faculty members of the School of Ceramics (UNCuyo), they explored ideas related to planned serial and utilitarian production with other professors, such as José Carrieri. In 1953, Colette founded Colbo (an abbreviation of her name), a company devoted to the production of modern-style tableware made of ceramic stone tiles collected from the mountain range near Mendoza. Her products showed her vast technical knowledge as her company systematically diversified production and developed special projects, such as construction tiles.
During the company's first stage, the artistic talent of its collaborators was highlighted by the implementation of applied varnish characteristic of the Art Concrete trend. Throughout the 1960's and 70's, Boccara decorated her pieces with unique screen printings and, hand in hand with her son, silk screen printer Bruno Jannello, renowned national artists began collaborating with the company, among others: Libero Badii, Oski, and Jorge Sarudiansky.
Boccara's tableware became an icon of Argentine design and was awarded the Red Label of Good Design by the CIDI (1967) and was acknowledged in the section “Non-conventional Industries” at the UVEXPO Fair (1971). At the beginning of the 80's, the factory closed due to the Argentine political and social context until 2007, when it reopened under the direction of Colette's son Matías Jannello and the designers Martín Endrizzi and Wustavo Quiroga. In 2011, Colbo received the Argentine Seal of Good Design award and, in 2012, the Grand Prize in the category of Design and Enterprise at the BID Spain.
#EpicFeatured | Martín Eisler
Martín Eisler (Vienna, 1913-Sao Paulo, 1977) obtained his degree, with Honors, at the Viennese School of Higher Studies in Architecture. His father, Max Eisler, was a renowned art historian specialized in avant-garde architecture and furniture. Being a jew, he was forced to migrate to Argentina in 1937, in an attempt to escape nazism. In Argentina, he designed furniture, sets, and architecture.
In partnership with Arnold Hackel, he founded the company Interieur (1945), located at 545 Paraguay Street in the city of Buenos Aires. In 1950 he opened his own studio, where Susi Aczel started her career as an illustrator and, from 1953 on, as an associate. In the same establishment (453 Santa Fe Street, currently Ricardo Rojas Street) he co-founded the Music Friends Association (c. 1950). In 1953, he created Forma, a design and decoration store and studio located in Sao Paulo (established alongside Ernesto Wolf), where he worked as art and technical director in collaboration with Carlo and Ernesto Hauner. In 1959, back in Argentina, Susi Aczel, Eisler and Hakel founded Interieur Forma.
During those years he explored the potential of serial furniture production and applied his refined aesthetic by combining diverse materials such as varnished wood, bronze, glass, and local leather and textiles. His designs display a holistic view with an emphasis on structures and construction details. His most renowned piece is the “Costilla” resting chair (c. 1950), inspired in American designs, showcases a sculptural structure. Other pieces enjoyed worldwide recognition too, for example, the “Reversible” couch and the “Camello” table, which enabled height adaptations.
As an architect, he developed a few creations,however they accurately express his personal philosophy. He devised a system made for prefabricated, standardized homes that allowed variations in the livable area (1944). Alongside A. Bonet, A. Joselevich, A. Ricur, and A. Prebisch, he designed an auditorium for the Buenos Aires Concert House (1950). In harmony with the environment, he also built the Chalet Wolf (c. 1950) in Bariloche, a farm house in Pilar, and another one in San Isidro, both fully equipped with his artwork. In the City of Buenos Aires, he designed family homes in the streets Melián and Juramento; and in 3449 Mendoza Street, in Belgrano neighborhood; among other places.
Stage design was his most fervent passion, a field in which he also performed as opera director in charge of instructing actors, changing sets, color design, and lighting effects. His first jobs in the opera took place in Europe, at the Scala Theatre (1932). He continued designing sets when he returned to Argentina, where he created the scenery for the movie Rigoberto (1945), directed by Luis Mottura and produced many projects for the National Comedy Theatre. As a music producer, he worked alongside professional musicians at the Colón Theatre and he even founded the Buenos Aires Chamber Opera Theatre (1955), where he collaborated in several productions. During the 1960's and 70's, he participated in operas by Mozart, Hindemith, and Sciammarella presented at the Colón Theatre. As part of that team, he was able to tour Europe, presenting chamber operas in Brussels, Paris, and London. He also collaborated with the companies of the General San Martín Municipal Theatre and the Argentine Theatre at La Plata. In association with his relatives, IDA Foundation has begun recovering documents and material that will aid in the reconstruction of his professional trajectory and provide accurate data to revise information available worldwide.
#Epic #ExpertOpinion | Lescano + Villavicencio
Victoria Lescano is a journalist specialized in fashion, essayist, and curator. She published the books Followers of Fashion, Falso diccionario de la moda (2004), Prêt-à rocker, moda y rock en la Argentina (2010), and Letras Hilvanadas, cómo se visten los personajes en la literatura argentina (2014). She will soon present “Prueba de vestuario”, published by Ampersand. She wrote fashion columns for the newspaper Página 12 and La Nación magazine. As a curator, she accomplished the cycles “Estilos latinoamericanos” (2004) and "Identidad Criolla” (2006), in partnership with journalist Felisa Pinto; both exhibitions were presented as part of the cycle “Malba Moda”. At present, she is developing the digital platform “Sucesos de moda”, alongside Andrea Lázaro; a project selected by the Buenos Aires City Cultural Sponsorship program. In July, we will discuss with her topics related to fashion designer Fridl Loos, who used NOA textiles in her avant-garde garments.
Susana Villavicencio is an Architect with a Masters degree in Architecture History and Latinamerican Urbanism and, currently, a PhD candidate at the PhD in Architecture program of the National University of Tucumán, School of Architecture and Urbanism. She is an Associate Professor at the FAU-UNT, as well as co-director of the Institute of History and Patrimony at the same university, where she is the leader of the research project: “La Arquitectura del siglo XX del NOA: análisis y valoración crítica”. She has published articles about architecture and urbanism projects accomplished by the Modern and Late Modern Movement in Tucumán and the NOA region. Throughout the month, we will chat with her about the School of Architecture of Tucumán and its influence in the academic production within the region.
#IDAShop | Colbo, unforgettable patterns
Colbo and IDA have jointly launched a limited series of silk-screened plates that revisit Colette Boccara's artistic side. This issue, will be available exclusively in the IDA shop, was handcrafted by ceramist Matías Jannello. The patterns and weavings communicate one of the author's main plastic quests: creating a spatial texture based on geometric modules. Besides applying art to ceramic products, Collete created sculptural objects, woven tapestries, batik, and drawings that intertwined free, organic shapes with grids linked to synthetic figures. When you buy one of these exclusive items in our online platform, you acquire a unique object, while supporting the Foundation in its goal to recover the history of national design.
EXTENSION Héctor Viola Donation
The Héctor Viola (Buenos Aires, 1934-2020) archive has been recently incorporated into the Foundation's collection. This prolific and unknown graphic designer created a body of work that mainly includes posters, postal seals and stamps. Between 1951 and 1953, he studied drawing at the Manuel Belgrano National School of Fine Arts and, in 1954, he became a faculty member of the Prilidiano Pueyrredón School of Visual Arts.
He joined the Argentine Postal Service in 1953, working in the Propaganda Office directed by Amadeo Dell'acqua, and, from 1958, he worked in the Philately Office, until his retirement in 1993. There, he collaborated with the designers Horacio Álvarez Boero, Eduardo Milliavaca, Julio Miguel Fouret, and Néstor Martín.
His synthetic and highly symbolic designs were a milestone in the field of postal, visual communication. As a postal worker, he created representations of allegorical dates, state institutions –City Bank, Argentine Auto Club, and Federal Police–, and even international organizations like the United Nations. He received many awards: at the Monaco Biennial (1960), United Nations (1974, 1975 y 1976), Saint Gabriel in Rome (1975), and at the Japan Ministry of Communications (1990). Besides creating graphic pieces, he worked as a professor and draughtsman in Quilmes. His family donated his archive to IDA with the aim of preserving his original pieces and sharing information about the iconic postal stamps he created, which are worthy of collecting.
Fundación IDA, Fondos Patrimoniales: 1. Editorial Infinito | 2. INTI | 3. Méndez Mosquera, Carlos | 4. Editorial Infinito | 5. Rey Pastor, José - Harpa | 6. Ilustración | 7-8. Escuela Panamericana de Arte | 9. IKA | 10. IAME | 11. Fiat Concord | 12-14. Gonda, Tomás | 15-17. Boccara, Colette - Colbo | 18-20. Eisler, Martín | 23-24. Fundación IDA | 25. Viola, Héctor. Fotografías: 21. Alejandra López. Archivos invitados: 5. ARCA Archivo de Arquitectura Contemporánea Argentina.
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-Álvarez, M. R. (26 de julio de 2010). ”EL TEATRO SAN MARTÍN”. Conferencia en la Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Buenos Aires. Recuperado de: https://bit.ly/3h4hhqB. Con acceso el 10/6/2021.
-Bonsiepe, G. y Fernández, S. (2008). Historia del diseño en América Latina y el Caribe: industrialización y comunicación visual para la autonomía. San Pablo, Brasil: Blücher.
-Harari, I., & Bil, D. A. (2018). Desarrollo y crisis en una terminal automotriz. El caso de Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA), 1955-1967. Páginas. Revista Digital de la Escuela de Historia, 9(21), 123-151. Recuperado de: https://bit.ly/2ThPzh0. Con acceso el 10/6/2021.
-VV.AA (2017). 60 años, 60 hitos tecnológicos. San Martín: Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial - INTI. Libro digital, PDF.