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World Design Capital
At the end of 2019, Valencia won the nomination to become World Design Capital in 2022 (WDCV2022). A dream come true thanks to the enthusiasm of a group of local professionals related to design. Accompanied by arts and cultural manager, Cristina Chumillas, we go through some of the exhibitions that visitors to the city of the Turia river can find.
Valencia is a city that is historically connected to design. Renau’s signs, Mariscal’s objects, Guastavino’s architecture, studio profiles like La Nave, which updated the national design landscape during the 1980s, or young professionals like Ana Criado, without disregarding the talent pool of Valencian cartoonists and illustrators who have left their mark on comics, a lineage that goes back to Paco Roca.
After Valencia was chosen as the World Design Capital 2022, designer Xavi Calvo, strategy director of WDCV2022, told Talento a bordo: “Design is part of our everyday life. It’s in the urban planning and the way we convey social messages, like the fight for gender equality. It’s overarching and this is one of the first messages we want to convey with this initiative.”
So far this year, Valencia has hosted a fair number of events —exhibitions, conferences, series, screenings, etc.— which make up the official programme of this capital status, but the events calendar will continue to offer an attractive programme in the upcoming months. There’s a wide offering, so Talento a bordo has invited specialist Cristina Chumillas to act as our guide and set up a tour through some of the cultural proposals linked to WDCV2022.
For Chumillas, WDCV2022’s activity is yielding results: “I think it’s a positive experience because, through informative activities carried out around design, a large part of citizens has become aware of its role and the number of designers there are in the city. I trust that all this will leave its mark and help Valencia to take even more care of design as a city. Even though, to feel the real effect of this capital status, we need to be keep in mind that things take time.”
“Through the informative activities that are being carried out, a large part of citizens has become aware of its role and the number of designers there are in the city”
These are Cristina Chumillas’ suggestions:
Play with design (Centro del Carmen, Sala Carlos Pérez. Until the 23rd of October)
“Curated by Juan José Oller, from Milimbo studio, this is an exhibition aimed at the general public, but especially children, with an attractive educational and playful side which shows us how design is present in our lives since we’re born. The selected pieces are landmarks at a national and international level: Bruno Munari, Antonio Vitali, Patrick Rylands, Cruz Novillo, Isidro Ferrer, Pep Carrió, Héctor Serrano, or Raquel Fanjul, who is half of Cachete Jack —who updated the Burger King logo—, among others. Many of the pieces have been made deliberately for the exhibition, whose contents spans 50 years. Some pieces can be touched, and this makes the exhibit more enjoyable for children, who are invited to take part because there are no barriers. Natural materials are really present, especially wood, and the simplicity of shapes prevails throughout the selection. A proper use of colour can draw the attention of children and thus start to educate them on the topic of design.”
Design fruits (Centro del Carmen, Sala Zero. Until the 11th of September).
“Here, graphic design is the star. It’s a part of fruit labels, packaging, and wrappers. The room includes a wall featuring 250 tissue papers with different brands, almost all from oranges. There are also 120 boxes in piles and a selection of 300 stickers from all kinds of fruits. The selection focuses on designs created in the 1950s that, over time, have been updated organically. We can see how at the beginning, they were more based on the work of illustrators and now, the graphic side, typography, and colours prevail. Brand names sometimes come from the 1920s and 1930s, where freedom was absolute and that’s why we find some like Envidia, Actriz, La Deseada, Pillín, Éxito, Madremía, Playboy, Amable... The selection, curated by El Vivero —Florencia Grassi and Leandro Lattes—, includes a video explaining the process of the exhibition.”
Earth, a retrospective (Bombas Gens. Until the 4th of June 2023)
“A really interesting exhibition that is hard to explain. It has been developed by El Último Grito based on paintings, sculptures, and photographs from the collection Per amor a l’art, which provides content to the Bombas Gens centre. The works of Joan Cardells, Inma Femenia, Jonas Mekas, Tacita Dean, Bleda y Rosa, Koji Enokura, Aaron Siskind, Mathieu Mercier, or Juan Uslé are at the disposal of a completely innovative discourse: design becomes a narrative tool. We could say that the curator of this exhibition is design itself. It’s split into four episodes, four phases that immerse the visitor in the experience. A different route where photography, the most widely represented artistic discipline, becomes the link between present and future. A creative geography is established where the planet’s memory breaks, and the only link left are images with different meanings and signifiers to how we interpreted them up until now. It’s a magnificent experience that breaks the curatorial discourse and narrative moulds.”
Chumillas also recommends visiting Curtain Call, at La Marina del Puerto de Valencia until the 28th of August (from 9.30 p.m.). It’s “an 8-metre-high circular curtain created by Ron Arad where works from different video artists are shown, like Matt Collishaw, Greenaway & Greenaway, and Mariscal”. According to this arts manager specialist, this proposal has something in common with the aforementioned exhibitions: “An educational foundation, which means we leave having learnt something and with the possibility of generating critical thinking.”
Cristina Chumillas is a graduate in Art History and her professional career includes the artistic direction of art gallery Pepita Lumier, as well as the curation of exhibitions like Ocultas e ilustradas —devoted to Valencian female illustrators— or La anguila —painting exhibition of Paula Bonet with the same name as her first novel—. She also coordinates the exhibition project València se ilustra [Valencia illustrated], which this year is called València se ilustra y diseña [Valencia illustrated and designed], and oversees the art department of interior design and decoration consultancy My Artist Lab.