“Epic: Feats of Argentine Design” is a multi-format, curatorial program aimed at reviewing a century of history based on the IDA Foundation collection and other related archives. The chapter "1990" revisits the interaction between design and technology, the counterculture movements originated after the dictatorship and the impact of neoliberal policies.
#EpicAnniversary | Menem's Innauguration + 1 to 1 Conversion Ratio
On July 8th, 1989, La Rioja native Carlos Saúl Menem, as the candidate of the Justicialist Party, became president. He substituted (in an anticipated way) Raúl Alfonsín in the midst of a hyperinflation crisis. His presidential campaign was based on the slogan "Follow me, I won't let you down", advertising phrases such as, “Joy is back”, and promises like the “great salary increase” and the “productive revolution”. Martín Oyuela led the campaign team. The graphic support was designed by Martín Mazzei, a political communication expert who developed a synthetic and appealing brand. He chose to center communication pieces in the candidate's logo, a presidential sash throughout the letter "N" featured in Menem's last name. The aim was to attract and influence independent, non-Peronist, voters. instead of his face. His management campaign and propaganda pieces were used, in an innovative way, as elements of TV advertisement, a strategy supported by a significant sector of the national business group and the star system. Menem completed his first term in office (1989 - 1995) and was reelected for a second term (1995 - 1999) due to a 1994 constitutional reform that enabled it. Few months after his first inauguration, pardoned all army officials condemned during the previous dictatorship for crimes against humanity. In 1994, after the death of soldier Carrasco, he removed his compulsory military service. He reshaped the State by establishing free market policies and privatizing state-owned companies with the purpose of eliminating structural expenses.
1 to 1 Conversion Ratio
In 1991, as part of the neoliberal economic policies launched by Minister Domingo F. Cavallo, the Austral Convertibility Law began to be implemented. The currency plan was popularly known as the “one to one” conversion ratio, since it aimed to achieve a parity between the Argentine peso and the US dollar. To that effect, the new Argentine peso was designed at the Currency House. The economic plan, conceived with the goal of reducing inflation, connected the country with global markets, briefly benefitted the middle class, and absorbed the income of products and technologies. Some of the consequences of the resulting economic bubble were the closure of many factories and companies and increasing unemployment rates. These processes became even more acute during Menem's second term, since the untenable convertibility policy led to the 2001 default which became the worst national economic crisis up to date.
In 1996, when the country experienced a generalized overexcitement mood, Menem announced an astonishing upcoming event, the kick-off of a space travel program that would offer 90 min. trips between Argentina and Japan, departing from an unknown national base: "Soon, we will introduce a new space flight system that will depart from a platform that will probably be established in the province of Córdoba. The spaceships (…), which will exit the atmosphere, will move through the stratosphere until they arrive to the its destination".
#EpicContext | Privatization of Public Enterprises
The State Reform Law (1989) led to the privatization of more than 60 state-owned enterprises, some of which provided essential services, such as water, electricity, gas, telephone, highways, train, airlines, airports, and oil. Following "handbooks" promoted by international organisms like the IMF and the World Bank, privatization provoked concentration of capital and the dominance of foreign corporations: within the nation's main 500 companies, foreign capital increased from 33% of business ownership to 67%. Through identity reconfiguration and rebranding projects, brands, establishments, and communication systems changed. The aim was to attract new audiences and customers offering "updated" services.
The most significant privatized company was YPF. The process began in the early 90's with the incorporation of the Spanish group Repsol. By 1999, Repsol owned 99% of the shares. Norberto Chaves designed a new image for the firm. The identity was transformed during the direction of Estenssoro who discarded the historical brand, losing the iconic shield that identified it. In 1998, the French company Piaton & Associés, a specialist in service station architecture, redesigned the stations.
In 1999, the oil enterprise changed its name to Repsol YPF S.A. and merged its image with its Spanish version. In 2007, Fontana Design, directed by Rubén Fontana & Zalma Jalluf, redesigned the firm's identity. They projected a new comprehensive strategy encompassed by the company as the “Argentinization of the brand”, an objective achieved in 2012 with the re-nationalization of the majority shareholding. The new program included the readjustment of the brand optimizing the reproduction of the general system, eliminating the communication shared with Repsol to preserve the most valued features of the identity. The company ENTel provided telephone communication services through two corporations, Telecom Argentina in the northern regions of the country and Telefónica in the south. Telefónica adapted an identity program imported from Spain.
Shakespear Studio, led by Raúl and Ronald Shakespear, designed the image of Telecom, used until 1998 when a new program was implemented. It was produced by Chaves and Pibernat and the brand design and implementation were designed by Fontana Design. The design displayed in commercial establishments, telephone centers, and public telephone booths was created by KLA Studio, directed by Hugo Kogan, Hugo Legaria, and Raúl Anido.
Main transportation services were granted as concessions to Metrovías; that was the case of subways and trains —formerly known as Argentine State Railway Network—, among others. Some vital services connected to the national highway network were licensed to multiple providers who were paid with toll fees. Several studios participated in those projects, for example, Kogan's FocusBrand (subway signage system), Idemark (railways), and Shakespear Studio (designed the Train by the Sea brand for Metrovías and the signage system of the Sun Highways). In 1990, the Aerolineas Argentinas flag line was 85% acquired by Iberia Lineas Aereas de España. Guillermo Stein and his team designed the brand Airports 2000.
Other privatized enterprises related to public services were: National Sanitary Services, which was taken over by French capital organized in the stock corporation Argentine Waters; the brand was designed in 1993 by HEXA design bureau, directed by Alfredo Diaz. Metrogas —one of the companies that split from the State Gas company— was designed by Consultores I+C and Fontanadiseño.
The visual image and the complex communication program of Argentine Mail —used in media, products, and internal enterprise channels— was redesigned in 1993, while the company was still owned by the state. The design team was led by Alfredo Saavedra, Alberto Oneto was appointed assistant director, and Eliseo Verón acted as a consultant. Their work received the 1st Award in the Corporate Image category, as well as the honor award at the fifth ADG Design Biennial Bs. As. (1995). Saavedra left the direction in 1996 and Oneto occupied the position. In 1997, after the company's privatization, its design was modified (by Ferres); he changed the isologo using a new typographic variable. When the mail company was reacquired by the State in 2003, the phrase "The official mail of the Argentine Republic S.A." was added. On the other hand, the private mail company Oca, owned by Yabrán group, commissioned its design projects to Shakespear Design (1993).
Publications by Joan Costa, Jorge Frascara, and Norberto Chaves —about the utilitarian function of design and corporate image—, contributed to specialize that branch of design.
#EpicContext | Design on the sidelines
After the success of the runway shows presented at the 1st Young Art Biennial (1989), the artist group Poor Geniuses, led by Sergio De Loof and constituted by Andrés Baño, Gabriela Bunader, Marula Di Como, Cristian Dios, and Gabriel Grippo, among others, defined the early 90's underground scene by creating a unique aesthetic that linked art, fashion, and design. The group used strategies like deconstructing and recycling materials to explore bodily possibilities connected to clothing. They effectively dislocated sex-gender markers in clothing and destroyed conventional notions of beauty. Purses made of arpillera fabric, glass paper, denim scraps, leather pieces, magazine pages, wallpaper, recycled plastic and metal pieces were often transformed into garments just minutes before the fashion show models got dressed.
The Bolivia bar, located in 300 Mexico street, in front of the club Cement, was conceived by De Loof to cater the "poor artists". It became one of the emblematic places they got together with the aim of creating new pieces. In December of 1990, the group produced "Charming dresses", a runway show featuring fourteen dresses intended to be worn by women and one for males, all of which recreated courtesan style. The showcase was presented at the Buenos Aires Modern Art Museum. Many of the group's initiatives preceded what was later, in the post-2001 fashion circles, known as "Design d'auteur".
Another creator that belonged to the alternative scene was Juan Calcarami; he worked in Europe and returned to Argentina in 1977. Being an artist and sculptor, he manufactured cement furniture for The Company and several other architecture studios. In 1991, he helped design the setting of the mythical dancing club El Dorado (owned by De Loof). Later, in 1992, he created Age Of Communication, a two story complex located in downtown Buenos Aires (405 M. T. de Alvear street) which included: a dancing club, an art gallery, a restaurant, a library, and the fashion salon Puteaux Mode Couture Salon. It was directed by Cristian Delgado and Pablo Simón.
The decoration of the venue included plenty of recycled pieces and a graphic communication designed by Freddy Larrosa; who installed an internal silk-screening workshop to create the unique aesthetic of Age. Age Magazine was designed collectively, following the exquisite corpse principles, without filters; each author brought an original piece to be replicated. The magazine invited artists to send their work, multiple techniques were welcomed (photography, photocopy, painting, serigraphy), then, the creations were assembled anonymously in the publication.
#EpicContext | Television: branding and set design
TV image adopted new languages influenced by electronic media, the internet, and broadcasting design; simultaneously, set design experienced a modernization process. Programs and advertising experienced a total renovation led by the work of authors like Juan Blas Doberti -the head of Tunisia Group-, and the theatre stage designer, Jorge Sarudiansky. The intervention of the designer Juan Blas Doberti on Argentine TV proposed a paradigm shift through scenic installations with an innovative vision from the design. In the period 1994 -1998, he worked from "Tunis Design'' in co-creations with the industrial designers Miki Friedenbach and Gustavo Coll. They revolutionized the screen with the successive staging of the program "Fútbol de Primera" and others for Tournaments and Competitions, FOX Sports, Cuatro Cabezas - such as Turno Tarde hosted by Mario Pergolini - and Antonio Gasalla on Channel 13. In 1999-2000, he opened Doberti Study. From there, he took a new aesthetic turn with a different vision of communication for television spaces. Different scenographic projects, with the advancement of digital technologies, combined the use of animations and camera setup, projecting environments with a tendency towards the immaterial and the intangible.
Art director and graphic designer, Jorge “Saru” Sarudiansky, design sets for drama plays, films, and advertisement pieces. He also designed cultural and commercial venues. He stood out for the visual displays he created, all of which featured a mix of structures, simetrical elements, and visual games. He became one of the great masters of Argentine stage design, and produced a fundamental contribution in the 80s and 90s, during the boom in Argentine advertising production. Among them, his work stands out for the Colbert Noir perfume commercial directed by Edi Flehner (1987). Or the design for the disruptive program hosted by Mario Pergolini, Caiga Quien Caiga (CQC), where Sarudiansky developed different thematic environments and screen rooms.
In the field of branding, TV channels redesigned their brands during the 90's. The brand of Telefé broadcasting service was reformulated by Ratto Publicidad and Alejandro Abramovich did the same for TV Design. Por su parte, la de Canal 13 fue proyectada por el estudio norteamericano Chermayeff & Geismar Studio. Channel 2, which became América TV after its privatization in 1993, redesigned its image with a team led by Guillermo Stein, a graphic designer trained in Israel, who years later created his studio Steinbranding (2000). He developed the Cablevisión brands (and its 65 channels) as well as Pramer, AM América, FM Aspen, Diario El Cronista, Multimedios América and Corporación América, among others.
#EpicFeatured | Ibero-American Cooperation Institute (ICI)
The Ibero-American Cooperation Institute (ICI) —later renamed as the Spanish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires (CCEBA)—, opened its doors in 1988 at 943 Florida street (Buenos Aires). It became an iconic place of cultural production and a meeting spot for artists, writers, and intellectuals from both countries. Supported by the Spanish AECID Cultural Centers Network, the Institute promoted art, science, and technology through award ceremonies, exhibitions, concerts, academic conferences, courses, publications, a video collection, a newspaper archive, and a library. Such a center, open to experimentation and innovation, was led initially by Pedro Molina Temboury (1988 - 1989), and, later, by Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente (1990), Carlos Alberdi (1991 - 1992), Fernando Villalonga Campos (1993 - 1994), Rodrigo Aguirre de Cárcer (1995 - 1997). The leadership team was further strengthened by the constant collaboration of the assistant director Laura Buccellato (1988 - 2003). She promoted multiple artistic experiences, such as the video art and electro-acoustic music, and other activities related to fashion, design, and architecture.
The center was located inside the famous urban area known as the “crazy apple” –where was also established the Di Tella Visual Arts Center—. The building's long basement was remodeled by Clorindo Testa and it was widely known as the "submarine" due to the immersive effect it conveyed. The architect refurbished the place that had previously hosted the Spanish Library. He designed a free, informal, and multipurpose place that showcased structures made of wood and colored concrete. Testa also designed the modular, attachable, sliding, and multifunctional furniture system.
At a very early stage, the ICI developed a visual identity system, designed by Luis Wells, aimed at advertising multiple activities. Some of the outstanding pieces of the system were the blanket size newsletters, the triptych brochures, and the posters. Multidisciplinary activities and the work samples by both renowned and new creators were presented in those formats.
As part of its cultural strategies, the center organized several Design Awards related to sub-disciplines like industrial, graphic humor, and video. The winner of the ICI Design Award "From dream to object" (1989), linked to the International Architecture Biennial BA/89, was Nicolás Sarudiansky. Some pieces were showcased at the ICI as part of exhibitions that also included work by renowned guest designers and artisits, for example, Ricardo Blanco, Osvaldo Giesso, Gaspar Glusberg, Edgardo Gimenez, Hugo Kogan, Reinaldo Leiro, Mario Mariño, Eduardo Naso, and Clorindo Testa. In 1993, Diana Cabezas won the 1st prize for the Ecuador couch she designed. Other celebrated events were "Domestic Environment" (c. 1988), an exhibition featuring industrial design work by Gaspar Glusberg and objects by Modulor; and “Fashion on the Side” (1992), curated by Felisa Pinto, a display that brought together young designers, photographers, illustrators, figurine artists, and video producers who produced fashion that transgressed mainstream codes.
#EpicFeatured | Clarín, Department of Infographics
During the late 80's and early 90's infographics were introduced to Argentine press, even though, similar elements had already been incorporated in previous decades, like the instructional graphs used during Perón's era and map related visuals, such as the ones created by Alejandro Malofiej. Understood as cultural and technical objects, infographics originated from the need of adding visual content to journalistic texts, representing research data, and making narratives easier to follow. Infographics intend to produce graphs that explain complex information. Clarín newspaper transformed this resource by incorporating it systematically in its pages as part of the integral redesign process of the publication, which took place between 1992 and 1993.
The introduction of infographics was also boosted by the productive exchange of creators and ideas between Spain and Argentina. The editor secretary, Roberto Guareschi, encouraged the professionalization of infographics production by enhancing the field of editorial design (a key field that had already been incorporated successfully in American and Spanish newspapers) and requesting new visual strategies, which could not be achieved by the layout designers. The editorial redesign project was developed by the Catalan studio Cases i Associats —with art direction by Iñaki Palacios— and implemented by some of the first graphic designers trained at the FADU (UBA), who had solid knowledge in the field of typography due to Rubén Fontana's mentoring. Guareschi also created the Infographics Department, unheard of in local media beforehand.
The department was led initially by Michel Gafré and Xavier Conesa (1993); later, it was directed by Spaniard Jaime Serra (1994 - 2001); and, after him, Alejandro Tumas-Pablo Loscri took over (since 2001). The first goal was to systematize graphic elements through the use of templates and typographic frames. Under Serra's lead, the office boomed with the incorporation of a team of experts who dominated the fields of illustration, communication, and research. They were able to produce infographics for most sections of the newspaper, including Viva magazine and the collectable encyclopedias. The team created a unique aesthetic which was soon known as the "Clarín style". Serra conceived infographics as a communication tool that expressed data through visual metaphors. As a consequence, the language used in infographics was very expressive and it became even stronger due to the presence of other resources, such as life-like illustrations, scale models, photographs, and diverse elements designed by versatile and talented authors like Norberto Baruch, Ana Gueller, Pablo Loscri, Pablo Ruiz, Andrea Tozzini and Lucas Varela, and Juan Pablo Zaramella; featuring research by journalists like Stella Bin. The work accomplished by this team of experts was acknowledged worldwide. They were widely recognized for the way in which they sensitized an area that used to be only interested in displaying accurate facts. During the 90's, several infographics published in Clarín received the Malofiej Award, considered the equivalent to the Pulitzer prize.
#EpicFeatured | Casa Foa & DArA
Casa FOA, an annual architecture, indoor design, and landscape exhibition, was conceived in 1985 by Mercedes Malbrán de Campos with the aim of raising funds for the Jorge Malbrán Argentine Ophthalmologic Foundation. The event grew popular during the 90's due to the unique and bold design of exhibition rooms, each planned by different Argentine studios. Casa FOA soon specialized in showcasing new trends, introducing innovative, industrial products, fostering the exchange of ideas, and promoting designers and architects. This fair stood out from other similar ones because every year, the organizing team restored the sites they chose to use for the exhibition. Some of these venues were the Grain Silos at Dorrego (1992), Tattersall in Palermo (1998), Landing stage and Immigrants' Hotel (2000), and House of the Reconquest Patio (2003). The entire project surrounding each of these exhibitions was duly documented in annual catalogues.
Within the same context, in 1986, DArA —first named as Associated Argentine Decorators and, later, renamed Associated Argentine Interior Designers—, was founded; a non-profit orgaization that gathered designers, experts, and national companies. The association's founding members were Susy Aczel, Celina Arauz de Pirovano, Ricardo Biglie, Rafael Cash, Germán Carvajal, Jorge Craig, María Gilbert, Roberto Otero, Silvina Peña, Margarita Sanchez Elia de Grandva, and Natasha Quiroga, who used as a guideline the statute of the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). They accomplished educational goals —for example, reformulating the curriculum of university level decoration programs—; organized round-tables and conferences for members — Eduardo Sacriste, Sam Soler, and Alberto Churba, among others, participated in these events—; carried out promotional activities in the press and other media; created a color chart, a tool that did not exist In the market at that moment, —meant to aid firms-inexistente en el mercado; and established the DAra scholarship program (1988 - 2006), a contest that gave young creators the oportunity to present their work at Casa FOA. DAra published works like EL PLIEGO by DArA (c. 1987), a quarterly publication edited by Maria Eugenia Estenssoro, featuring the collaboration of Felisa Pinto and photographs by Facundo de Zuviria. The publication aimed at connecting the field with commercial projects. It was backed by renowned experts in decoration, for example, Delia Tedin, Alberto Churba, Finita Travers de Braun, and “Mechita” Campos Menendez (FOA). This year, the institution celebrates its 25th anniversary of constant and significant work.
#Epic #ExpertOpinion | Cassisi + Gueller
Luciano Cassisi is a graphic designer, branding expert and professor at the University of Buenos Aires. Since 1992, he has directed his own studio Cassisi Branding, specialized in corporate identity. In 2005, he created FOROALFA, a website about design and communication; he is the current director of the site, which is widely known in Ibero-America. He gives conferences and courses on branding at universities and design congresses in various Latin American countries. We will chat with Cassisi about the 1990's privatization wave and the expansion of State-owned enterprises.
Ana Gueller is the Art Director of La Nación newspaper. She studied graphic design at the UBA and completed her PhD In Art and Aesthetic (Carlos III University, Madrid). At the dawn of her career, she worked for the journal Clarín, at the infographic department, alongside Jaime Serra; she also worked in several publishing houses and newspapers in Spain and Peru. She has received many international awards, such as the Malofiej infographic contest; the ÑH Awards (2016 y 2017), and the Society for News Design acknowledgment (2019). Gueller will guide our inquiry about the infographic department of Clarín journal and about information design in mass media.
EXTENSION | Incorporation of the Álvarez Collection
We are proud to announce the incorporation of the patrimonial collection of Mario Roberto Álvarez (Buenos Aires, 1913 - 2011), an Argentine architect who Is considered a national icon of the Modern Movement and rationalist trends, to the Foundation's archive. In 1947, he founded the studio MRA+A, alongside Macedonio Oscar Ruiz, Eduardo Santoro, Leonardo Kopiloff, Carlos Ramos, Victor Satow, Alfredo Gentile, Laura d’Huicque, and Miguel Rivanera. The studio remains active under the lead Mario Roberto Alvarez Jr., Hernán Bernabó, and Fernando Sabatini. During the 1950's, the studio began designing emblematic buildings that have defined the identity of Buenos Aires city: houses, banks, theatres, tunnels, and bridges. IDA currently safeguards the author's least explored and known pieces from the period 1930 - 2000, such as Radio Aconcagua Mendoza, Municipalidad Mar del Plata, Hospital de Niños Gutiérrez, plantas Coca Cola y Crush. During the first decade of the XXIst century, the studio designed the first gated neighborhoods and led the urbanization of Dique IV in Puerto Madero, besides developing projects globally. Álvarez produced until he turned 88 years. He was named one of the 10 most remarkable architects in the world by the American Institute of Architects (1976). He received the Konex award, the Merit Diploma (1992; 2012), the National Arts Foundation Great Prize, and the Life Achievement Recognition (1996). He was named the best South American architect by World Survey / World Architecture in the years 1972, 1998 y 1999. This priceless donation includes blueprints, texts, drawings, panels, scale models, and bibliography.
EXTENSION | Triptychs
We are proud to announce the publication of our triptychs; a compilation of the milestones IDA Foundation has achieved throughout 2020 and 2021. The compendium includes the expert opinions of Adrián Candelmi, Cecilia Durán, Gonzalo Fuzs, Marcelo Ghio, Rafael Iglesia, María Ledesma, Daniela Lucena, Laura Novik, Daniela Pasquet, Florencia Rodríguez, Andrea Salztman and Ana Torrejón. Events like the creation of IDA Shop, the activities related to the presentation of the book Intermittency. Mendoza Design, the curatorial program Epic, and the project of the Museum of Argentine Design are also featured in the triptychs.
-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.
-Devalle, V. y Sarli, C. (2019). “De cómo el diseño tipográfico moderno se cuela en el rediseño y las infografías de Clarín: un repaso por 60 años de historia”. Revista Brasileira de Design da Informação, São Paulo, v. 16, Nº2, 210-227.
-Socolovsky, P. (2021). “Relación entre diseño y construcción de identidad en el marco de las políticas de privatización y con empresas emblemáticas como YPF, Telefónica y Telecom”, Actas de XXXIV Jornadas de Investigación y XVI Encuentro Regional SI + Herramientas y procedimientos, Secretaría de Investigaciones, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Images | Fundación IDA, Fondos Patrimoniales: 1. Martín Mazzei | 2. Fotografía Cavallo | 3. Nodal | 4. Gabriel Grippo | 5-6. Sergio De Loof | 7. Jorge Sarudiansky | 8-9. Juan Blas Doberti | 10-11. Centro Cultural Ciudad España en Buenos Aires | 12-13. Jaime Serra | 14-15. FOA | 16. DARA | 17. Luciano Cassini | 18. Ana Gueller | 19-20. MRA+A | 21. Fundación IDA.