17 May 2022 -

Hidden Histories: Gender in Design interview: Francesco Guida

To attend the seminar on Thursday 19th May, please register for free via Eventbrite

To find out more, follow Francesco on social media:
Instagram: @francescoeguida

What is your background and how did you develop an interest in design history?

I have a Master’s degree in architecture, and my studies have always allowed me to deepen the relationships between history and the areas of design practice. It has been quite natural for me to continue to be interested in some historical issues. Since 2008 I’ve been involved in the Graphic Design Documentation Centre of AIAP, the Italian Association of Visual Communication Design, more than just an archive. That opportunity allowed me to study original sources, develop some new areas of research, and organise and manage activities and events related to the archives the Centre hosts. Since 2013, I have been an associate of A/I/S/Design, the Italian Association of Design Historians founded by Vanni Pasca, Enrico Morteo and Raimonda Riccini, and an editorial board member of the Journal published by the Association. In the two years 2019-2021, I’ve been one of the Associate Editors of the Journal.

What does your research focus on?

I am interested in deepening the history of Italian graphic design after the Second World War through a micro-history approach and this has developed in 3 main directions. The first one started more than 10 years ago and is about women pioneers. Another one is about minor or unknown personalities who have the right to be considered in “big histories” for the contribution they may have given in specific cases or areas. The latest one is about local and not-Milan-centred histories. My focus is on the South of Italy (where I was born). That is an area of research increasing recently, at least at a national level. My research is not only focused on history but also on some more contemporary issues related to branding, experience design, and the use of coding in visual communication design, issues strongly connected to my teaching activities.

Your talk is part of a wider seminar series on Hidden Histories: Gender in Design, how does this apply to your work?

It applies perfectly. It is a chance for me to share content and methodologies with colleagues from all over the world. To learn more and to have opportunities for new collaborations. As mentioned before, one of my areas of research in graphic design history is about the women pioneers. Not just to fill gaps and absences, but to re-write the history of the Italian professional practice in a more objective (and inclusive) way and to emphasise some of them as role models.

Please tell us about an interesting piece of design you have discovered as part of your research.

I choose a poster (Esso Extra Motor Oil, 1956) by Claudia Morgagni, a graphic designer active from the 50s to the early 80s. She designed it at the beginning of her career, managing her own studio (Studio Morgagni) and having clients of high profile in different fields (from heavy industries to chemical ones, music companies). At the same time, she was wife, mother, teacher and, from my point of view, is not only an interesting personality in terms of design quality but a true role model.


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