Just a few months ago, the publication Crits a la paret i poemes visuals. Josep Pla-Narbona. Cartells 1947-2004, coordinated by the recently departed Professor Anna Calvera, was presented at the Barcelona Design Museum.
In the files in my study, I still have the preparatory dossier in Catalan for this book, with a different working title from that which become the aforementioned publication. Anna began the introductory preface by saying that ‘the preparation and final writing of this book has turned out to be a long, complicated and sometimes thankless job’. And she justified this difficulty by saying that ‘the first time I discussed this project with Pla-Narbona, we decided that the book should be scientific in nature, making the task of writing a text about the posters designed by Pla-Narbona a challenge that led me to long discussions with an extremely wide range of colleagues about the disciplinary and scientific feasibility of the discourse of design about itself’.
These words selected from the introductory text in the working dossier are dated 2009. Professor Calvera’s research would continue for another eight years.
All of us who had the good fortune to share moments and projects with her owe a debt of gratitude to Anna. The design profession in this country has her to thank for contributions of great interest and significance in our particular sphere. In the library in my study, I have a space dedicated exclusively to what I have titled ‘Pioneers’. This is material that I have been accumulating on the history of our design. And it has served, in addition to gain my interest in their wonderful work, to fuel my research about this extraordinary generation of designers in our country. Taking a quick glance at the variety of material which can be found in this corner of the office, I find many contributions from Professor Calvera: the complete works of Joan Perucho, published by Edicions 62; the script of her lecture ‘Gráfica versus plástica’, given in November 2010 at the Art and Advertising Exhibition in Madrid; her doctoral thesis on William Morris, which became the publication La formació del pensament de William Morris; a copy of Pioneros del Diseño Moderno by Nicolás Pevsner from Ediciones Infinito in Buenos Aires, and more.
Anna was an important person in the development of the profession in Spain during key years. Based on her experience and knowledge, she guided the work on preparation of the White Paper on Design Education in Spain. She supervised doctoral theses. She administered key donations, such as that of Joan Artigas archive to the School of Art at the University of Barcelona. She summarized the transformation of our activity perfectly with the phrase ‘from trade to profession’.
The images included in this post come not from the book, but from the preparatory dossier mentioned earlier, which for me represents a feeling of closeness to Anna Calvera of which I am proud: having shared with her projects and collaborations such as the wonderful foreword she wrote to the book Pioneros del Diseño Gráfico en España. Thank you, Anna my friend.