“It still has a lot to do”: The history of Uruguayan design and its slow and steady influence on the world

Imagining an unknown reader forces you to decide what and how you will say something. With an impressionist painting, for instance, the artist uses brief brushstrokes to show the composition, light and subject matter. When thinking about Uruguayan graphic design, perhaps it’s best to think of it as a story – the journey from craft to profession.
Since then, the industry has diversified. This has resulted in the creation of different careers in the private sphere as well as design: industrial, animation and video games, fashion, art and new technologies. This meant that design, at a private level, is now all about finding new possibilities. Together with the ORT Uruguay University, the Catholic University of Uruguay also presents some options related to visual communication and sound engineering.
Until about the 1970s, designers were not called designers. Then, when the 1980s hit, the profession took off academically and it was sustained by the market. 1985 was the last year of dictatorship in Uruguay and the return of a democratic government; the dictatorial period was lethargic. Without freedom, education worsened significantly and the country lacked progress. In 1988, almost immediately after the democratic recovery, the Industrial Design Center opened in an old prison building (former Miguelete prison) with the Italian Technical Cooperation. There were workshops for carpentry, metals, ceramics, textiles, models, serigraphic and offset printing, photography, jewellery and computers. Later, in 1995, the ORT Uruguay University founded the Bachelor of Graphic Design, and its university status was recognised in 1996. This was a first of the two origins: The Design Center was state-owned and the ORT Uruguay University was private.

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