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Sauret: «In Argentina, we still need to broaden our understanding of design and think about more comprehensive and transformative aims, both tangible and intangible»

Bea Sauret, Director of Design Management and Productive Innovation of the National Ministry of Production and Labor, analyzes the importance of articulating public and private actors with scholars in order to improve the quality and competitiveness of national production.

Bea Sauret is an industrial designer who graduated from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and has specialized in productive development and effectiveness of small and medium enterprises (Japan International Cooperation Agency), as well as in Local Development and Social Economy (Latin American School of Social Sciences). For the past 15 years and from government positions, she has developed strategies that enable enterprises to incorporate innovation and design into their productive processes. During her administration, fundamental tools used to foster the appraisal of the discipline and boost regional enterprises have been created, such as the Seal of Argentine Fine Design (SBD) –which has recognized 1213 products in the eight times it has taken place– and the program Pymes D –which funds, provides technical support, and connects companies with professionals that can help launch specific projects–.

As part of the interview series conducted by –I–D–A Foundation for its Old&Newsletter “Expert Opinion” section, Sauret, who is also an undergraduate and graduate teacher for institutions such as the UBA, the University of San Andrés, and the Banco Credicoop Foundation, analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of national design, while discussing the appropriate steps that should be followed in order to consolidate design’s position in both the institutional and productive fields.

–What is your experience with design?
–My connections with design are multiple and broad; my specialties are closer to the industrial development and social impact rather than to the product itself. For the past 13 years I have worked in design management, mostly articulating public policies and productive processes. I have also worked in formative areas, thus aiming to have a triple impact: within the public, the private, and the academic spheres. I have collaborated in the devise of development and promotional projects on multiple scales: sectorial, municipal, international. In all of these, the passion to Foster development and to build genuine value were the aims that motivated my commitment, both personally and professionally. I believe that there is an inevitable link that connects design to other agents and disciplines –a link established within a very complex industrial setting–. This connection is meant to enable an efficient and dynamic transformation in the production process.

–What features must a piece possess in order to be considered a fine design?
–In my opinion, a fine design is a coherent design. A design that both interprets and questions the possibilities of technology, its commercial potential, and people’s needs. A design that is aware of used resources; that reflects about its life span; that takes into account sustainability; etc. That is to say: fine design is a complex system that devises a strategy and obtains good results in terms of social, economic, and environmental impact.

–Does “Argentine design” have a single identity? Is there an essence of “Argentine design”?
–I do not think a single essence of Argentine design exists… I do not think defining one is a pressing matter either. I do believe a progression has taken place, one that should be studied through constant observation. To do so both professional formation and archive collections are needed.
–¿Does Argentine society value design?
–In Argentina, we still need to develop a broader perspective of what design is, one that includes more comprehensive and transformative aims, both tangible and intangible. I consider we also lack a lot of outreach work to display the strategic operations that are currently being implemented; policies that can transform a company’s appraisal perspectives and can also open the door to foreign markets. From the viewpoint of public policy, our main goal right now is to achieve that all requests for design services demand an enhancement of product value. At the same time, we expect that those design services also provide coherent solutions to specific demands (the balance between the two premises must become a constant).

–¿What is the significance of design archives and patrimonial collections?
–It is very important to both read and trace history: there must be an awareness of what came before and also of what lies ahead. For this reason, I believe we must study our own material history and then compare it to other international processes. It is absolutely impossible to think about the future without understanding the past.

–¿What conditions must prevail in an institution devoted to such an endeavor?
–It must be highly professional, rigorous, and with a broad perspective. At the same time, it must be able to create a network that can reach as many places as possible in order to possess a richer historical legacy. From my personal position, I think the work undertaken by –I–D–A Foundation is not only foundational but necessary. That is why we must join efforts to enhance its collection.

–¿Why is it that in Argentina, in contrast with the rest of the world, there are almost no museums that focus on design?
–Because we have not acknowledge the value of this discipline yet and also because we have not been able to become as corporative as we should in that respect. We, designers must create more and better alliances in order to build networks that can assure long-term transcendence by articulating and fostering institutional density.

–¿What are the main future challenges for the design community?
–To work within a network structure that boosts dynamism, fosters corporatism, makes visible years of growth and achievements, and envisions all the paths left to explore. We need to understand that we don’t have to start from scratch, there are many traveled roads from which we can learn for, then, leap to other development stages.