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  • 05/02/2018

    Farewell to Anna Calvera

    On February 4, after a long illness, Anna Calvera (Barcelona, 1954) passed away. She was one of the most solid scholars and design thinkers in Spain.
    Gifted with brilliant intelligence, great memory and an unlimited work ability that allowed her to undertake any complex project, Calvera leaves an internationally recognized work in the field of theory, history and design criticism.
    In her youth she studied graphic design and philosophy in Barcelona and later moved to the University of Bologna where she met scholars such as Tomás Maldonado and Umberto Eco. Thanks to this extensive training Calvera produced a significant work in the form of articles and books. These include her original and little known PhD thesis on the breeding of Wiliam Morris’s thought (Destino, 1992); the three magnificent compilations of essays on the history of design in Barcelona that she edited between 2011 and 2017 at GRACMON; and her last, laborious book Shouts on the wall and visual poems. Josep Pla Narbona. Posters 1947-2004, published a few weeks ago by the Barcelona Museum of Design. For this museum she also curated the permanent exhibition Graphic design: from trade to profession (1940-1980).

    Much of her professional life was devoted to teaching design, mainly at the University of Barcelona. Her great concern was to provide scientific rigor to design and struggled to make it a discipline of equal status as any that was being taught at university. She achieved that by supervising a large number of doctoral theses and her stubborn involvement in the process that led to the introduction of specific degree studies in design in the curricula of Spanish university.

    Calvera firmly believed that design is a kind of humanism, for that, in addition to her work as a researcher and teacher, we must emphasize her institutional work since we find her at the forefront of crucial institutions in the field of profession and research: she was a member of the FAD and the ADP, one of the founders of the Research Group in History of Contemporary Art and Design (GRACMON) of the UB and also a founding member of the Design History Foundation. As a result of an international meeting that she organized in Barcelona in 1999, she managed to bring together a team of scholars that would become the International Committee of Design History and Studies (ICDHS): for twenty years she would closely follow ICDHS conferences.

    With great will and determination, already quite ill, in 2017 she intended to conclude, with FHD, an encyclopedic research on design at the Roca Sanitary Corporation, to finish the monograph of Pla Narbona, to direct the latest book by GRACMON, to write an article for the scientific magazine Arcos Design and to plan down to the very last detail the ICDHS conference Back to the Future that will be held in Barcelona in October 2018.

    A restless traveler, a lover of good cuisine and a great advocate of the Mediterranean lifestyle, we will all remember her around a well set table, anywhere in the world, where she displayed her critical sense with witty comments on design, culture, politics and life.

    Isabel Campi
    President of FHD