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13 THE CULTURE OF DESIGN, STEO BY STEP. THE ELISAVA SCHOOL IS 35 YEARS OLD, 1996

International relations


Since its foundation, Elisava has understood design as an international phenomenon. This was probably due to the fact that in 1961 its founders' ideological proposals were firmly based on the modern movement, which was essentially internationalist.
The situation of isolation of the Spanish State, however, did not make a fluid contact with the international design scene easy. First-hand knowledge then in state-of-the-art design (there were few specialised foreign publications available on the Spanish market, and the local ones were practically non-existent) was a matter of «pilgrimages» to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the Unit States.
As Elisava acquired a consolidated function and, consequently, prestige (mainly based on the great names of design, architecture, and art in Barcelona, who were among their number), great international names of the discipline, especially Italians such as Gio Ponti, Alessandro Mendini and others, contributed their knowledge through chats and intensive courses.
During the seventies and the first half of the eighties, this process was intensified to the point that conferences and courses given by great professors on the international scene became a habit.
With the 1986 creation of the Document Centre, one of whose bases was the Newspaper Library, which has subscriptions to over 250 of the best specialised magazines in the world, the School came closer to the avantgarde of the profession at world level. This made it possible for students and professors to investigate professional currents, classical and emerging figures in the profession, international events, new production, etcetera.
A little later, in 1990, postgraduate workshops were begun, with the presence of outstanding designers such as Francesco Binfarre, Achile Castiglioni, lsao Hosoe, Santiago Miranda, Jonathan de Pas, Denis Santachiara, etc. The results of these workshops were extraordinary, and led to new activities along these lines.
The postgraduate workshops developed till they became postgraduate courses and master courses (within the collaboration agreement with the University of Barcelona and, later, with the Catalonia Polytechnic University and the Pompeu Fabra University). The presence of outstanding Italian designers like Ampelio Bucci, Giulio Ceppi, Luca Gafforio, Isao Hosoe, Ezio Manzini, and Esperanza Nuñez, was completed by collaboration with important representatives of British design, like Alan Fletcher, John Sorrell, Mary Lewis, and others.
At the same time, Elisava has been a guest at conference cycles during the three «Design Spring» editions, with a massive presence of figures from the international scene (see lists), which allowed completion of first-hand knowledge of what is happening in the world of design, not only in Europe but also in the United Stetes and Japan.
In 1992, the Office for International Relations to analyse growing activity in this field was created. The results of this work have been, first, the incorporation into the Erasmus exchange circuit (see list), which allows our students and professors to carry out exchanges with the most prestigious Universities in the main European cities, covering every teaching area, from the most artistic to the most scientific. This collaboration has till now allowed the establishment of a wide knowledge of mainstream pedagogic trends and an optimum feedback for our courses. Conversely, our contributions have been very useful for other teaching centres (for example, Elisava is one of the European centres with better quality/cost ratio per student, and its model is being studied by several private centres).
Currently, Elisava is collaborating in the development of the first Euromaster in Industrial Design, and is developing intensive workshops and programmes in collaboration with several centres.
At the same time, this office chanelled the process of convalidation of the British title of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Design from Southampton University, which allows our students to obtain an official university title equivalent to a bachelor degree in the European Union as, in the future, as European integration takes shape, this can become very important. Also, the wide knowledge of one of the most prestigious educational systems in the world in design and art contributes great benefits to the future of education in art and design.
The Office for International Relations represents Spanish design in the Arts Education and Training Initiative (Task Force 3), which depends on the European Commission. This allows Elisava a voice in the main European debate forums on the future of art and design education.
All this allows our students and professors to improve their knowledge of possibilities on the international scene, introduce new design currents in our programmes, and contribute our points of view to first-rate discussion and exchange forums.
It is not by chance that a growing number of our students now has access to the best international postgraduate and master degree courses and can understand the world market as their future field of work. Their professional success, obtained so far in companies and workshops such as Moulinex, Pentagram, Milton Glaser, Landor, etc., allows us to assure a great future for them on the international scene. The professional exchange programme with the United States, coordinated by BCD, is a good example of this.
The challenges for the future are basically to develop computerised information networks and systems to improve teaching credit transfers, such as the European ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and others.
In spite of doubts about the future awaiting us, Elisava at present has the position and the tools necessary to adapt to any foreseeable scenario.




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