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António Modesto Nunes

Magazine Design Interviews | 23 Nov 2016



Characterised by the proximity to artistic disciplines and processes, the teaching of Design at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto [FBAUP] also stands out for the quality of the faculty that, thanks to the fact that it consists both of professionals working in the market and scholars engaged in research, provides students with an intervention capacity in society due to the expressiveness that motivates them.
António Modesto Nunes, director of the FBAUP design department, believes that a university should promote criticism and argues that design exceeds the previous concept of business strategy or extension of marketing to assert itself as a discipline that "works with our experiences and our environment, aiming at what we can call `improvement`. "

Created in the 70s and then taught at the Higher School of Fine Arts of Porto, the first design course (at the time Communication Design) quickly gained recognition. What led to this success?

The design course starts thanks to the Revolution of 25 April. Until 1974, there were no official design courses. There was only a private university in Lisbon, IADE, which, since the late 60s, had this task. In turn, in Porto, there has long been a cultural tradition linked to the graphic arts. This tradition originated, as soon as there was freedom to, the claim made by some teachers attached to it who were then already designing book covers, posters, illustrations or were connected to studios and print shops. Hence, the course opened with the designation Communication Design/Graphic Arts. It began operating in the academic year 1976/77 and only in the field of graphic communication. The opening of the country to modernity and abroad made design more visible, the need for it started to be felt and its recognition imposed itself naturally.

What distinguishes the teaching of design at FBAUP from other institutions that also teach the discipline or set of disciplines?

There are different attitudes toward the practice of design, to its teaching and learning. There is one that I find that is gaugeable by the very nature of FBAUP – it always had close proximity to the arts. There are design schools, of applied arts, created as an alternative to the arts. In FBAUP that is not the case. Part of the curriculum of the design degree course taught here is common to the visual arts courses.
I understand that we can say that design is an art, that it is an applied art, or say that design is worse when it is artistic, authorial. I consider this openness to various interpretations as advantageous. If we understand that design is more of a service we are situated in a kind of interface between the order, the client and the public. But if we understand design more as a means of expression, even if through utilitarian artefacts, I also see no harm in that. I think that the school reflects some of this range.

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Text: Paula Monteiro
Photos: Orlando Fonseca and provided by the Department of Design of FBAUP 

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