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Utopia is possible. ICSID. Ibiza, 1971

  • Instant City, 1971. MACBA Collection. Centre d'Estudis i Documentació. Fons Xavier Miserachs

  • Vacuflex-3, 1971. Joan Antoni Blanc Archive

  • Ceremonial, 1971. Joan Antoni Blanc Archive

The 7th Congress of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), organised by the Agrupació de Disseny Industrial del Foment de les Arts Decoratives (ADI/FAD), was held in Eivissa (Ibiza) from 14–16 October 1971. What might have been a conventional professional meeting became, in the Spanish context, an unprecedented event. For three days, what the ICSID did in Ibiza was not just an open congress where professionals and students could meet and debate; it was a point of convergence between design and the most experimental forms of art and architecture at the time in Spain. This exhibition is an attempt to recreate that event and the ideas that are still relevant today: sustainability, participation, solidarity, new relations between industry and society, and the liberating powers of art. It includes documentary material, photographs and films, from various archives and from the MACBA Collection.

In 1971, the ICSID Congress was held at Cala de Sant Miquel, a bay on the north-west coast of Eivissa, away from the usual urban venues. In the context of Franco's dictatorship, dominated by repression, censorship and lack of freedom, Eivissa was still a relatively unspoilt environment, sparsely urbanised. Thanks to the intellectuals and artists who had settled there since the thirties (Hausmann, Benjamin or the architects from GATCPAC), avant-garde and transgression coexisted with a rural culture, very tolerant of visitors and capable of reconciling opposing aesthetic and social tendencies. Placing the event on a beach gave it the feeling of intimacy and camaraderie that the organisers had intended. Among their members were André Ricard, Joan Antoni Blanc, Enric Tous, Ferran Freixa, Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Francesc Pernas and the Grup Obert de Disseny Urquinaona (Urquinaona Open Design Group).

The Congress wanted to avoid any kind of programming on principle. It was structured in the form of 'speaking rooms' (in the two hotels on the bay), where presentations and discussions on design, urbanism, art, new technologies and ideas took place. Among the participants in these meetings were Xavier Rubert de Ventós, who spoke about puritanism in design; the artist José María Yturralde, together with members of the Centro de Cálculo from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who advocated the use of computers in design; Jordi Cerdà, a student at the Escola Massana at the time, who presented his study on the subject of time by using cinema as a means of communication; and a group of students from Escola Eina, led by Lluís Pau, who put forward a critique of the situation of design in our country.

In parallel to this, a series of events relating design to other media were also organised. One of the most successful was Instant City, a project based on current research on the use of new materials such as plastic, especially in inflatables. Although these materials had originally been used only for military purposes, by the sixties they were being applied to everyday life and leisure. Groups such as Archigram and Haus-Rucker-Co, or architects such Frei Otto and Hans Walter Müller, are good examples of it. Instant City was created to provide accommodation for students attending the Congress. José Miguel de Prada Poole, a professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and a specialist in inflatable architecture, provided the technical knowledge behind the project: an ephemeral city, made of plastic, and based on a simple construction system of geometrical figures. Interconnected cylinders and spheres that could be developed as needed. Technology became a liberating instrument, available to the layman. Instant City rejected, on ideological grounds, the city as a space that conditions the behaviour of its inhabitants. It was also in favour of collective work being inseparable from leisure, in order to create new forms of coexistence based on creativity.

The ICSID Congress in Eivissa was an experiment in socialisation, an example of how communal work, vitality, intellectual reflection and leisure can be used to promote dialogue, and of how imaginative proposals can be created to structure new models of behaviour. As Prada Poole said when referring to Instant City, the ICSID Congress in Eivissa was proof that 'utopia is possible'.

  • From 21 June to 20 January
  • MACBA Museo d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
  • Plaça dels Àngels, 1 08001 Barcelona
  • www.macba.cat