IED Barcelona, Mauricio David Garcia Vargas

A workshop for the future

Just like ancient Renaissance schools, IED Barcelona Design University combines theoretical research with the real, many-sided dimension of the design profession.

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On the global design culture scene, there is a growing tendency to program complex educational contents that can intercept the key themes directing professional research and practice. An effective example of this trend is provided by IED Barcelona, an international design school (65% of students are from over 14 different countries), characterised by a vast-reaching learning potential, a plurality of languages and a multidisciplinary approach always on the lookout for innovation.

IED Barcelona,  Intensive Specialisation Course in Lighting Design of Spaces
Design created by the Intensive Specialisation Course in Lighting Design of Spaces and displayed in Barcelona at LLUM BCN, a festival of new technologies and lighting

The Design Area offers students the opportunity to work with teams from different disciplinary sectors (Interior Design, Product Design, Transportation Design), which propose an intermingling of objects, spaces, people and technologies. Design as a social value lies at the heart of all teaching: a tool for people and society able to contribute to building a more sustainable, conscientious and efficient future. The design stage unfolds by combining different methodologies (design thinking, learning by doing, personal educational experiences, progressive understanding, collaborating on real projects) with a practical approach marked by a high level of technology along with an understanding of the latest trends in design research. The majority of projects and, above all, the final course theses are conducted through collaborations with companies, thus giving students hands-on training with respect to a possible future career and helping them to foster relationships in the workplace. Some recent collaborations of great interest include those with prestigious international brands like GIRA by Smartclick, Médecins Sans Frontières, Seat, @IdeaSquare CERN, Vitra.

IED Barcelona, Workspace Revolution
One of the designs made for the Workspace Revolution project in collaboration with Vitra: Skär, by the student Desislava Danova

In fact, one of the most paradigmatic and significant joint projects was with Vitra. Aimed at the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design and Product Design students, the Workspace Revolution project strives to redefine the workplace for the present and the future: start-ups, smart offices, co-working spaces. The brief proposed to design a new product, a space or service that could motivate human interaction in workplaces and assist in the constant change that distinguishes contemporary practices in all kinds of professions.

The majority of projects and, above all, the final course theses are conducted through collaborations with companies, thus giving students hands-on training with respect to a possible future career

The creative process developed in three distinct stages. After an initial phase of reflecting on complex concepts – like the distance of nature from large cities, human relations between co-workers, increased work travel and the importance of the individual’s state of mind – students formulated their original proposals offering an alternative to existing models and based on the needs of each profession. Finally, in the last phase, they provided new solutions that could radically redefine workspaces. In particular, the students in the Undergraduate Degree in Product Design course compared the characters of emotional intelligence with the properties of workspaces, elaborating modular systems that can change their own function according to the needs of the moment as well as furnishings made by combining traditional technologies with 3D printing. Instead, the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design students put emphasis on the importance of contact with nature by proposing outdoor structures equipped with essential work tools (electricity and Wi-Fi): spaces inspired by trees and built on the roofs of hotels or hostels.

Nacho Vilanova, TRA desk, IED Barcelona
Even the design of the small desk Tra, by Nacho Vilanova, belongs to the programme developed by Vitra with the Advanced Diploma in Interior Design and Product Design students

Today, the Master’s in Interior Design for Hotels and Gastronomic Spaces, in particular, is experiencing great renewal, thanks to the appointment of the Coordinator, Natali Canas del Pozo, co-founder of the interior design studio El Equipo Creativo, located in Barcelona and specialised in designing commercial spaces, hotels and restaurants: first and foremost, the cocktail bar 41º of Ferran and Albert Adriá in 2010. “The design of these kinds of spaces,” states Natali, “must be developed with a very transversal approach: professionals with varying backgrounds in the fields of industrial and graphic design and even the world of communication interact today with the goal of creating multifaceted and original environments. It’s a sector in which disciplinary and operative limits have been greatly blurred”. In order to relate to such a complex design sector in full expansion, the Master’s unfolds across a vast and rich spectrum of topics, organised around five points: Design Tools, Technology, Management, Theory, Sustainability (made up of two subjects: Ecodesign and Wellbeing in Interior Spaces), all the while working on real projects with real clients.

For example, last year the Master’s worked on three projects with a single client for the entire course – the Hotel W: the hall, the bedroom and the bar-restaurant. This allowed students to understand three different intervention scales, with very diverse needs, while at the same time to get an “overall picture” of the food and beverage and culinary sectors that may open many doors to them in the future. As the Coordinator underlines: “Working with real clients allows students to come into contact with their real needs: a very important leap in quality, especially for students coming from a more academic world. The final presentation, therefore, must be convincing for the qualities of the proposal, not only regarding conceptual and aesthetic aspects, but also from a functional and financial point of view”.

On top: An image of the design created by Mauricio David Garcia Vargas as part of the Master’s in Interior Design (a.y. 2015/16, Client: Sercotel Amister Art Hotel)

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