the need to design    The well-known architect and designer Juli Capella has taken time from her busy schedule to present her interesting book “Así nacen las cosas” (“That’s How Things are Created”) at Bilbao’s known Global design Centre.
It seems that design gets left in a second category in times of crisis. It’s taken to be “superficial” or “superfluous”. Do you agree with this perception of design?

Quite the opposite: in these difficult times ingenuity is needed, in fact it’s what can save you. When things are going well you can relax a bit and not design quite as well because everything will get sold anyhow. But in times of crisis people are more demanding and lower prices or wider choice have to be offered. And that’s why design is indispensable. Don’t let’s confuse design and superficial decoration. Clever business people have understood this and are taking on talent.

In this area, many economists say that “necessary cuts” are on the way. Does that include design? Is design necessary? Is art necessary? And aesthetics?

Eating and sleeping are the only necessary things. In the book “Así nacen las cosas” I discovered that humans have never created objects just for needs, never, and I too was surprised. We could still live in caves, go around naked, hunt for food and sit on stones. But humans need to improve and develop things and design is indispensable for doing that. So culture and aesthetics are indispensable. That creative action is, in fact, what distinguishes us from the other animals. They do the same things are we do, apart from developing and enjoying aesthetics. Humanity wouldn’t be humanity without that, so we do need design if we don’t want to go back to the caves.

For instance, furniture design pays more and more attention to recycling, sustainability, ergonomics and the ecological production ideas ... Is that they way forward for furniture and for design in general?

We could consider designers and companies without sustainable criteria to be delinquents. But there are no excuses, we know that it’s up to us not to destroy the planet, we can’t be as selfish as that. Design is either ecological or it isn’t.

In your book you talk about the design processes, some of which are peculiar and once-offs, but most of which are complex, difficult to put into practice, and tiring. Do most of us see design as being something frivolous? Is that perception justified?

People aren’t stupid, and if they think that design is frivolous, that’s because to a large extent it is, at least the colourful, whimsical, garish things they pass off as design in the media. But that’s just a tiny part of the world of design. When people are shown that all the things that surround them in everyday life and that help them to live their lives were designed by somebody, they start to be in favour of design. You only have to know it to love it.