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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Towards the perfect design: a brief interview with Cuban designer Jorge Martell at FORMA 2017


Work at FORMA 2017 Design congress in Havana
Work at FORMA 2017 Design congress in Havana

"Graphic design is the most difficult among all the specialties of the visual arts because you can not be yourself. It is about getting a large mass of people to acquire or take a service, product or idea that we show, unlike a painter, for example, who is self-confident first when doing a work. A graphic designer has to achieve a consensus, pure technical creation, with the client, be it an individual, a state or a system of faith. It is a matter of satisfying that demand of others and that which the public may have. However, as with design, in general, this specialty is sometimes underestimated. "

And Jorge Martell, who spent 30 years in the United States making design his way of life, returned to Cuba to continue fostering greater study and design performance in the country. He keeps abreast of his training as a visual artist and, therefore, knows the codes of the visual arts so well. Now, during the international congress FORMA 2017, he presented 'Participation Design II', a concept that since the late 60's he has developed.

"The designer is not solely responsible for the decisions on design if the user of the product or service can also give their idea. In this way graphic design may not be so difficult. For example, if you are going to design the cover of a medical book, the student of that career can give his idea. It is a concept in which I have a lot of experience from the late 60's and early 70's. That would be real team work between specialists and recipients to achieve the perfect design. "

-What defines your work?

"I always try to make my work functional." I looked for years for the best design definition. For me it is all about creation that fulfills a human need. It is fundamental, in my opinion, to make its essential qualities of communication and beauty work, but above all to match criteria between the creator and the recipient.

"The important thing is to maintain a philosophy of life that allows us to be better every day. In my case I take as a starting point the Stanislasky System, managed by the theatristas. Everything I do from the inside out, things have to be sincere, even if it is to promote the publicity of a product or service that I personally do not care about.

- How can the work of Cuban designers be made more visible?

"There are institutions that have that mission; But I am personally interested in deploying all possible initiatives to contribute to the knowledge of the work of Cuban designers, including colleagues.

"I am President of the Graphic Design Section of the Association of Visual artists of UNEAC and together with the Vice President, Arnulfo Espinosa, we create spaces to show the work of professionals of the environment. We have the first Tuesday of each month, Porfolio, a meeting that presents the work of three designers. It is open to the public and with emphasis for students of the Higher Institute of Design.

"We recently created an emergency space to welcome an American designer, Casual Contact, and he will come back on similar occasions.

"In addition, we have a national visual arts hall called Team UNEAC, at the Teodoro Ramos Blanco art gallery, on Cerro, one block from the Latin American Stadium. Our aim is that all baseball lovers pass through the gallery, before or after a game, that would be an achievement.

"I also hold the meeting for Gourmet Design because I love to cook. There is added that unknown spice that is good design for all areas of society. "

Link to original article in spanish

International Congress of Design Form was a Congress organized by the Superior Institute of Design of Cuba, the Cuban Cultural Property Fund, the National Office of Industrial Design and the City Historian. Its themes focus on educational and didactic strategies in the training of professionals, their social responsibility, and contemporary theories of communication. Its 9th edition this June was attended by 400 delegates from 17 countries.

About Cuban designer Jorge Martell

BORN in Havana, December 19, 1948, Jorge Martell owes his training to Havana's San José Visual Arts College. In the 1960's he worked in the Plaza de la Catedral Experimental Graphics Workshop and founded the Hermanos Saíz young artists design group. His work appears on book covers and in the form of illustrations of more than 300 volumes.

Despite a long stay in the United States, he defends his national identity with pride. During the 30 years that he lived there, he was a member of the New York Art Directors Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Graphic Arts Guild and the Federation of Cuban Teachers of Fine Arts. He was responsible for the artistic direction of eminent publications and left his mark in large publicity agencies. In 1993, the Chicago Institute of Design distinguished Martell as one of the 100 best graphic designers in the country, and the only Hispanic in its selection.

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