Ramón Aymerich, head of economy of “La Vanguardia”, of September 29, 2011, gave answer to the question: “can design help the economy?” in the Central Headquarters of GRUP IDEA Barcelona.
There are three ways of understanding design. On the one hand there are the firms that create design (for example Santa Cole, Escofet, Marset and so on). In themselves they do not bring about particularly important changes. They fit into a tradition in Catalonia which goes back to Modernisme, the Catalan branch of Art Nouveau. On the other hand there are clients. Normally large companies make better use of design. In general, and above all in Spain, companies find it hard to make a link between design and their profits. This is probably because designers do not explain themselves much. In the last three years and up to now, companies have gained in market share abroad, though now it is going down again. It has been almost like a miracle. Analysis of the examples available reveals that most of them have not used design as a driving force. Business people have difficulty in understanding it, probably because of an attitude problem. They see the Italians selling more thanks to design, but they cannot change their own way of thinking. Thirdly, there are the companies which use design to reinvent themselves. For example, Lékué. Its recent history goes back to 1990, when their plastic and silicon-moulded products began to be copied in Asia and they lost market share. They then decided to go for design, triple their prices and change the company’s positioning. The Spain brand works in some segments but not in others. Big events like winning the World Cup did help certain segments, but in general companies like Ferrovial or OHL say that the Spain brand does not benefit them. Assessment of this from the point of view of other countries reveals that there is no organisation to help abroad. The impression all of us have is that industrialists and business people go abroad alone with their briefcase. 58% of the turnover of the Corte Inglés department store in Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya is linked to tourists. Local shops have started to realise that their business has to revolve around tourism. They don’t like it but they are gradually understanding it and becoming more similar to cities like Paris or Amsterdam, where it would be unthinkable for shops to shut at weekends.