The emergence of design as a social phenomenon
In 1984, the Ministry of Education understood that the autonomy of schools in Madrid was a necessary condition in the process of modernization taking place in arts education. An order of February 27th, 1984, unfolded the Royal Decree 283.1984 of February 8th, which restructured the Centres of Applied Arts and Crafts in Madrid. The restructuring of schools occurred, according to the legal standard, “at the time that the Ministry of Education and Science considers the overall reorganization of the teachings under updating criteria and with views to adequate specialization of the schools”. So each of the sections became an independent autonomous school with its management bodies and a more differentiated educational offer. Each one of them specialized in an area that would allow maximum performance of facilities and infrastructure, promoting at “School No. 10, the Book Arts”.
At the same time, in the legislative field, implementation of an educational system born out of the Constitution and leading to the enactment of a series of laws was initiated: the Organic Law on the Right to Education in 1985, that materialized constitutional principles, and the General Organic Law of the Educational System in 1990, that restructured the whole Spanish teaching system. In terms of arts education, the first steps to reform the education system led to a series of experiences.
Under the regulation established by Royal Decree 799.1984 of May 28th, and then the Royal Decree 942.1986, the teachings of Applied Arts were extended with new common courses and new specialties of “experimental” nature. The new experimental specialties included “Industrial Design” published in the decree of June 5th, 1984, and “Design of Textiles and Fashion”, “Graphic Design”, “Interior Design” and ” Goldsmith Design and Jewellery “, published in the decree of October 20th, 1987.
It would be then that the School of Applied Arts and Crafts Number 10 focused its educational offerings in a number of fields related to the book: engraving, photography, graphic design and graphic document restoration. The latter discipline would leave the school in the late eighties, when the later to be School of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage was constituted.
The first director in this new period was Vicente Viñas, followed by Juan Barreto (1986), Manuel Santiago Ludeña (1987-1990), Julia Oliet (1990-1991), Damian Gravel (1991), Isabel Ivory (1991-1996) Juan Pablo Villalpando (1996-2004) and Eugenio Vega (2004-2013).
The changes in teaching offerings had led to a final transformation of the schools towards a more modern and integrated training method within the education system, away from the old idea that specialized courses had left in the public. This trend towards normalization of its teachings became obvious with the implementation, on an experimental basis, of the High School Diploma in Arts at Schools of Applied Arts and Crafts by Royal Decree of 1986. During the period after the establishment of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 and prior to the enactment of the General Law on the Education System of 1990, no general amendments were introduced, but, however, major changes occurred as a result of both the new legal framework stemming from the Constitution, and the start of a series of experiences in the context of the preparatory work for the reform of the education system.
Transformations in the constitutional legal framework included the transfer of responsibility for education to the Autonomous Communities, which affected these teachings by diversifying the administrations involved in the creation of their titles and in the organization and management thereof.
Unlike educational systems in other countries, in Spain the teaching of design was subjected to the peculiarities of the process of modernization that the Spanish society began in the late fifties. The arrival of European companies opening assembly plants and manufacturing was driven to some extent by the better conditions for companies accounted for the labour costs in Spain. Only belatedly education authorities realized the importance that should entail adequate training of professionals in these disciplines. This awareness was related to the difficulties that the Spanish industrial production started having to compete in Europe once labour costs ceased to be advantageous.
But it was not until the late eighties when necessary modernization of arts and design teachings came to be seen as a priority in the new educational system. Organic Law 1.1990 of October 3rd on the General Organisation of the Education System, LOGSE [by its Spanish acronym] established for arts education the titles of Medium Grade Cycle [similar to the BritishVocational Education and Training], Higher Grade Cycle [similar to the British Certificate of Higher Education], Advanced Studies [equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree] in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and Advanced Studies in Design, and it enabled the creation, under its Article 49, of the Advanced Studies in Ceramics and Glass. However, despite the obvious urgency that design education needed, it was not until nine years later when the legal provision that allowed the incorporation of a degree in Design is finally drafted. By Royal Decree 1496.1999 of September 24th, the foundation curriculum was established and an entrance exam to higher education in design was regulated. This order ended a prolonged effort of public and private sectors in these fields to obtain official recognition of the higher education on Visual Arts and Design.
The desire to anticipate the possible reform of the education system led to a new experimentation in 1991 in the training courses, which were subsequently regulated by the LOGSE [Organic Law of General Arrangement of the Educational System by its Spanish acronym]. Academic structural characteristics can be summarized in that the duration is generally two years, although some intermediate level is only one-year long. The curriculum of the Higher Grade Cycles includes a phase of practical training in companies, studios or workshops and a Final Project. After overcoming the studies, the student would get a diploma of Technician or Technical Specialist in Visual Arts and Design in the corresponding specialty, for intermediate vocational and higher vocational education respectively. The diploma is official.
By Royal Decree 389.1992 of April 15th, it is given the name of School of Arts, to the institutions providing the training courses of Art and Design, and of College [Escuela Superior] to those providing the Advanced Courses of Visual Arts and Design. It is from that time that the official name of the centre becomes the School of Art Number 10.
In the Spanish education system, the State is responsible for issuing certificates and the general determination of the curriculum, to be completed by the respective autonomous communities, which are responsible for the management of the centres. Competences, in education matters, are divided between the central government and the autonomous regions, while the State has legal authority for regulating the conditions for obtaining, issuing and recognizing academic and professional qualifications and the establishment of basic standards for development of Article 27 of the Spanish Constitution, thus ensuring compliance with the obligations of public authorities in this matter.
The culmination of the process for transferring competences from central government to the various autonomous communities, led in January 2000 the School of Art 10 to be transferred to the Autonomous Community of Madrid, becoming dependent on its County Council Department of Education. This new situation has allowed schools to adapt more effectively to the needs of each of the regions, although it has hindered the development of curricula that facilitate the transfer of students.
In 2001 the Madrid regional government drafted the curriculum of Vocational Training in Art and Design that would be taught in art schools under its jurisdiction. In July 2002, it wrote the curriculum for the Advanced Studies in Design and decided the provisional implementation of the specialty in Interior Design at the School of Art 4. A year later it was the School of Art 10’ turn to initiate the delivery of Graphic design specialty. Finally, design education had a legal framework more intune with the country’s needs and it allowed students to have training with greater possibilities of integration in the future Europe.
In 1999 in the Italian city of Bologna, the education ministers of the European Union signed a joint declaration that would start the so-called “convergence process”, which aimed to facilitate effective exchange of graduates and to adapt the content of university studies to social demands. All this led to the creation of the European Higher Education Area, an area which countries joined even from outside the European Union and serves as a framework for educational reforms that many countries should start in the early years of this new century.
The convergence process, or Bologna process, finally affected the artistic education to the extent that, as higher teachings that had been defined in the Spanish system should be integrated into a transnational level that would allow an education more in compliance to social transformations.
The new European space aims to facilitate the exchange of students and teachers and create a new community for higher education that meets the needs of the entire European Union.
Meanwhile, the latest reform of the Spanish education system embodied in the Education Act of 2006 was an integration of art education in the European Higher Education Area [EHEA]. Current diplomas or qualifications would be equivalent to the corresponding degree titles.