From left to right: Arturo Frediani, José Ramón Méndez, Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, Pablo Juncadella, Curro Claret.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of bulthaup's foundation, this last October 22nd, 24th and 25th, a series of panel discussions were held in Madrid (COAM), Barcelona (Arts Santa Mònica) and Girona (COAC), with the title "The Perversity of Beauty. The Legacy of Otl Aicher in the Post-Truth Era." The aim of these encounters was to determine the current validity -28 years after his death- of Otl Aicher, scarcely known in Spain, and of his vision of design with a high ethical content, a view which is especially relevant for younger generations during these times of fake news.
In the 1980s, in his book The World as Design, Otl Aicher voiced his criticism of the broadening gap between image and reality -the deceptiveness of images that manipulate and twist real facts, creating a false, mystified, parallel reality. His first-hand experience of a totalitarian system had shown him that the most seductive of images can conceal an absolute lack of scruples. Accordingly, he only took on clients who were willing to take responsibility for keeping their image consistent with their actions. Some of his projects, such as the Ulm School of Design -of which he was a founding member-, the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and the corporate image of companies like Erco and bulthaup are perfect examples of this ethical approach to design.
The pleasant surprise in these panel discussions, partially announced in social media, was their excellent reception, gathering a broad audience with a strong presence of young people. An encouraging response during these times of discouragement and cynical nihilism which proves the pertinence of the debate.
The panels were moderated by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, architecture writer for El País, with participants Curro Claret, industrial designer and professor at the ELISAVA design school; Arturo Frediani, PhD in architecture and director of the EAR school of architecture; José Ramón Méndez, PhD, professor and director of the EUDI design school at the Universidade da Coruña; and Pablo Juncadella, graphic designer and co-founder of Mucho.
Photos: Adrian Pedrazas Profumo