Regional Meeting Latin America 19—20 January 2017 Santiago Chile

The ico-D Regional Meeting Latin America (RM LATAM 2017) was conducted in Santiago, Chile on 19-20 January 2017 as a way to actively engage with Members in that region and the Latin American (LATAM) design community. ico-D Member Duoc UC and Chile Design Bienal hosted the event at the Estación Mapocho, a former train station located on the south bank of the Mapocho River near the central market of Santiago, Chile. Its current design lends itself as a venue for local Chilean concerts and art exhibitions as well as events of international scope, including the 2017 Chilean Design Biennale.


How it came about

In a series of Skype Meetings with Members from the South American design community, we realised that our Latin American colleagues share a lot more than just a common language: these design entities face common challenges from developing education curricula for their regional job market, to working in the context of emerging economies with various levels of government support, to the challenges of smaller institutions to fund, collaborate and publish design-related research, and that collaboration can be fostered within the ico-D framework. From these conversations a plan developed to hold an ico-D Regional Meeting (RM LATAM).

The objective of this meeting was to bring design entities (professional organisations, educational institutions and design promotion entities) from around Latin America together to discuss a variety of topics.

A preliminary discussion focused on the post-colonial context in LATAM and how this has created some challenges for design in this region. Some common challenges brought to the table included:

—  countering the idea that design is aesthetic, elitist
or superficial
—  valuing, promoting and encouraging local talent
—  working together rather than competing
—  language as a barrier to the rest of the world
—  colonial context as it a affects relationships between
the entities and to ico-D and the international
design community
—  finding a place for design in society through
— resource partners for design research and

To address the challenges faced by the region, five topics were discussed and summarised as following:

1— Resource partners for design research and collaboration

The issue of how universities can collaborate came down to: 

01 Researchers need a way to collectively identify and share possible research topics 
02 They need to be able to connect to each other to explore collaboration 
03 They need to identify and obtain sources of funding 

Mario Uribe (Member, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente Colombia) suggested an online directory to link ico-D Members more directly as beneficial as well as the promotion of visiting professors and faculty exchange as a good mechanism to provoke collaboration. Oscar Mas (Member, UCAL, Peru) recommended measuring and tracking key indicators (number of publications, number of researchers, funding obtained, etc.) while Piedad Gómez (Member, RAD, Colombia) remarked that research and official documentation gives legitimacy to the profession which, in turn, makes funding more readily available. 

2— Design and indigenous craft: understanding their interrelationships

Ana Masut (Managing Director, ico-D) and Frida Larios (INDIGO) presented the International Indigenous Design Network (INDIGO). An initiative of Icograda/ico-D, INDIGO is an open, global platform that connects both Indigenous and non-Indigenous designers worldwide to explore traditional design and its contemporary interpretations. INDIGO has started preparing best practice protocols of working with indigenous knowledge in communication design. The ethical challenges of engaging with indigenous iconography and imagery remain a challenging area to negotiate. In the discussions, two distinct forms of collaboration emerge: 

01 Co-creation between Indigenous craftsperson and a professional designer, where each contributes their expertise to create something new 
02 Professional support by the designer 

Marco Garrido (Member, UDEM, Mexico) shared two programmes initiated by UDEM which connect students with local artisans/entrepreneurs, including Proyecto Relieve and Proyecto Intervenciones. Soledad Hoces (Observer, Universidad Católica de Chile) emphasised the importance of rethinking terminology, noting that projects must be framed within the parameters of ‘inclusion’ and ‘collaboration/co-creation’. Frida Larios (INDIGO) conferred with a discussion on de-colonialising language, and Bárbara Pino (Observer, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) underlined how the construction of an identity is political and economic.


3— National Design Policy

Ana Masut (Managing Director, ico-D) presented the work of the ico-D Work Group on National Design Policy, including an analysis of the policies that exist and their effects on the design industry. Ana showed how a government’s level of involvement in the development process and enforcement of design policies will have an effect on how they are implemented. 

Manuel Figueroa (Observer, National Council of Arts and Culture, Design Sector, Chile) presented the process his department underwent to create the Chilean Design Policy, to be presented in June 2017 with research assistance from the Minister of Economics. Piedad Gómez (Member, RAD, Colombia) described how the Colombians are working with the Minister of Economy and Tourism to structure the design industry more strategically.  Guillermo Sánchez (Observer, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador) noted the importance of having a champion within government, a process of engagement which had been successful in Ecuador with the Sub-Secretary of the Minister of Culture. Marco Garrido (Member, UDEM, Mexico) described the public policy situation in Mexico which remains at an impasse at present due to political change. Bárbara Pino (Observer, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) added that, in Chile, the Bienal had been a motivating factor to create structures within the industry.

In discussions, organisations made it clear their preference to have an international body communicate directly to their governments rather than supporting regional efforts to communicate within their regions.


4— International exchange opportunities with Latin America and within Latin America

Marco Garrido (Member, UDEM, Mexico) presented ‘UDEM Centro,’ a project developed to promote international co-creation between UDEM, private foundations and design studios. Alexandra Faille (Member, Duoc UC, Chile) remarked on the importance, for students, to test themselves, learn new methodologies and also life skills. She reported that Duoc UC has a number of bilateral exchange agreements around the world and that they receive more students than they send abroad. Mario Uribe (Member, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente Colombia) remarked upon the difficulties for smaller schools like his in setting up these bilateral exchanges. He suggested ico-D could play a greater role to facilitate such exhanges. Angelina Vaccarella (Member, Duoc UC) added that incoming exchanges also carried great value. 


5— Curriculum development and professional accreditation

Mariana Amatullo (Member, ArtCenter College of Design, USA) presented some of the projects ArtCenter carries out through DesignMatters with partner schools in Latin America—the purpose of these interactions being social engagement. Bárbara Pino (Observer, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) framed the issue as one of self-reflection. She observed that Latin Americans are a very diverse group living over a vast territory. Knowing and understanding their own systems and challenges and also objectives and strategies for long-term success are key. Agustín Quiroga (Observer, Chile Diseño, Chile) represented the local professional association in Chile. The association had worked closely with the Minister of Culture and Arts to push through the Design Policy and presented national awards to recognise industry leaders. Former Icsid President Carlos Hinrichsen (Observer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) spoke to the challenges of federating the industry. 

Present at the Meeting were representatives of the following Member organisations:

01  Duoc UC (Chile)
02  Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (Colombia)
03  Asociación Colombiana Red Académica de Diseño (RAD) (Colombia)
04  Universidad De Monterrey (UDEM) (Mexico)
05  Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de América Latina (Perú)
06  ArtCenter College of Design (USA)


About Duoc UC
Duoc UC has almost 90 000 students distributed across Chile. Of that number, over 4500 students belong to the School of Design, comprised of 8 programs distributed across six campuses. The Duoc UC School of Design is considered one of the most important in the country, holding 25% of the academic offer in design. Duoc UC offers professional degrees in Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Interior Design and associate degrees in Illustration, Web Production, Graphic Design, Industrial Clothing Production. In 2015 all of these programs obtained the NASAD Substantial Equivalency status.

About the design Biennale of Chile
Chile—given its seismic and geographical position—is forced to face natural disasters that make the country a very concrete laboratory for design solutions. In Chile, there is a real opportunity for design to play a key role in preventing, mitigating and limiting the impact of disasters.

In its 6th iteration, the Design Biennale of Chile is a space for reflection about design through exhibitions, conferences and workshops. The theme of the 2017 Event is Design on Alert.