From Argentina To The World

By Gianfranco Chicco

“Through design, we do not seek to transform and dominate nature, but to find ways to preserve fragile balances”

Today it’s widely understood that “design” goes well beyond the mere embellishment of objects, and that it can propel forward a country’s private and public sector especially in times of uncertainty. That’s why Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is betting on a big presence at London Design Festival 2022. They'll be showcasing the country’s innovative expertise and longstanding tradition of design, focusing on a variety of design practices including graphic design, textiles and fashion, musical instruments, architecture and immersive experiences.

Throughout its history, Argentina has relied on its rich natural and cultural resources, and the innate drive of its citizens to find creative ways to overcome all kinds of crises, and now it’s doubling down on the opportunity to become a leader in sectors where the rules are quickly changing. One key tenet of these private and public organisations is the pursuit of triple impact for people and the planet, where economic, social and environmental growth go hand in hand.

“Through design, we do not seek to transform and dominate nature, but to find ways to preserve fragile balances. We do this by generating dialogues between the present, the past and the future, visualising and creating spaces, paving the way for the reconfiguration of humans,” says Florencia Lovera, curator of Argentina’s participation in LDF22.

Design thinking, supported by a solid technological and scientific higher education system, has been changing the country’s efforts in two ways. First, local makers, companies and communities are rediscovering the value of native resources and coming up with new offerings that are attractive to a global audience. Second, several government institutions are implementing new public policies to support these companies and allow them to spread their wings.

Sustainability and new materials

Calling them 'new' might be a misnomer, as some of these materials have been in use by several Argentine communities for centuries, but only now are they being seen as an invaluable alternative to the kind of conventional resources that have accelerated the outcome of the current climate crisis.

From indigenous llama fibres and organic yarns to waste materials like eggshells and by-products from the oil, fashion and food industries, there’s a new crop of Argentine brands that have implemented transparent production systems, which aim to be kind both to the environment and the society they’re embedded in.

Innovative products and services

Not all design is rooted in tradition. The constant economic challenges that Latin American countries have been subjected to has fuelled a resilient creative class that moves forward no matter what. While in the 90s it was Argentine advertising professionals that were leading the way for other creative industries to follow, since the early 00s the baton has been passed onto areas like software development and, of course, design.

From added value services like interior design to blockchain- based marketplaces and the creation of immersive experiences to set foot in the metaverse.

New policies

One such initiative is the annual Sello Buen Diseño (literally, good design seal), an official distinction granted by the Ministry of Productive Development championing products that stand out for their innovation, participation in local sustainable production, and for their design quality. It seeks to encourage and empower Argentine SMEs and cooperatives to become more competitive by incorporating design strategies to their products and processes. Already over 2,000 products have received the Sello Buen Diseño recognition.

“We aim to create an exhibition that reflects the geography of our country and its cultural heritage, encompassing designs as heterogeneous as the diversity of each Argentine region. The exhibition has an interdisciplinary approach, embracing the various expressions of design,” explains the Argentine Ambassador, Javier E. Figueroa, who is opening the doors of the Ambassador’s Official Residence to present the works of Argentine design studios, companies and independent artists.

This project is possible thanks to the support of the Embassy of Argentina in the UK and the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.