History of design

07 Apr 2021

Our work focuses on improving the future and to do so it is essential to discover a past that has not yet been written. The history of design articulates a whole series of significant designs, designs that have changed our way of living and being in the world, but also our conception of design of course and of the human.


What do we call design? Design, in addition to solving a problem and providing us with a service, is aware of itself insofar as it generates knowledge through doing. This is why, beyond its use, all design includes a reflection on our relationship with the planet, our way of understanding social relations, production and consumption. And, of course, a reflection on form, since it is from form that design manifests itself in cultural, aesthetic, ideological terms… This is the true definition of design.

Human beings are born designing

The question of when and how design came into being is somewhat controversial. Technically, a widespread opinion is that it arose with the Industrial Revolution. Other voices try to recover the rich artistic tradition prior to the Industrial Revolution as part of design. After all, the working conditions, the complex relationship between use and meaning, sticking to a budget or the relationship with a client of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo or Serlio, to cite just three well-known cases, were not too different from those of a designer. But we can go even further. The concept of design refers, in essence, to arranging what is given to us in a different way, where there is a stone, discovering a tool for tanning skins, it is no exaggeration to say that human beings cease to be primates the moment they are able to cooperate with nature to create a more comfortable environment.

Studying design, a clear option for the future

There are very good reasons to study design. The most obvious one is its employment projection. The world is not a finished object, its transformation is constant and that means that it is always necessary to design it. Whatever the branch, communicating ideas, shaping new utensils, accommodating new types of spaces, accommodating technology to serve our needs, we will always need designers concerned with making our environment a more habitable place.

On the other hand, on a more experiential plane, of personal growth and broadening of knowledge, design studios offer a particular way of engaging with the future of the planet. Without renouncing theoretical speculation, they are a form of knowledge centred on pure doing. Looking at the world as a project in constant transformation that can always be improved.

For all these reasons, studying our Design Degree is a clear option for the future. At Elisava we provide you with all the tools you need to become a designer capable of solving problems and satisfying needs in the relationship between individuals and their environment, as well as using design as a tool for reflection and social positioning. If you would like more information about our design studies, please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be delighted to help you!

Article by Dr. Ramon Faura, Social and Experimental Sciences Area Coordinator.