Issue no. 0 of ON DISEÑO magazine saw the light on 31 December 1978.

Three basic principles inspired the creation of ON DISEÑO and have made it into a benchmark of the culture of Spanish design in the past thirty years.

  • Its critical independence
  • Its almost exclusive dedication to projects in this country
  • Its determination to analyse in a global and integrating manner the combination of actions that configure the way of life of people, from architecture to interior design, object and graphic design, and which determine the contemporary culture of our surroundings, which we call design.


On Diseño was founded in 1978, promoted by a group of professionals of independent views who were completely disassociated from the pressure groups that are so commonly found both in publishing and in the field of architecture. Their purpose was to fill this country’s existing void in publications dedicated to architecture and design.

There are three basic principles that inspired the creation of On Diseño and that have marked more than twenty-five years of its history.

Firstly, the will to analyse, globally and in an integrating way, the complex situation that surrounds the “design of our surroundings”, understood as the set of actions that tend to configure and systematise the everyday surroundings of people. In this sense, On Diseño does not exclude any of the disciplinary fields of planning, whether they be architecture, interior design, object design or graphics, given that in the opinion of its editors this classification is a mere question of methodology and does not result from the true and real dimension of designing the environment. In some ways it could be said that On Diseño defends the culture of the project understood in its total magnitude: the contemporary culture of the environment we call Design.

Secondly, On Diseño has been characterised by the almost exclusive dedication to subject matter planned and developed by the professionals of this country. Though from a publishing point of view it would be greatly tempting to publish material produced abroad, On Diseño’s publishers thought it was indispensable to give priority to the activities developed within the country, understanding that foreign planners already have their own publishing channels. Nevertheless, and from an essentially pragmatic point of view, this has not represented an obstacle to the publication of subject matter produced outside our territory when the purpose was to provide better information for its readers or to contribute to a certain “pedagogical” diffusion of design, as occurs with novelty products by internationally renowned designers.

Lastly, it is necessary to refer to what is undoubtedly the most characteristic feature of On Diseño: its critical independence. At no time has the publication given in to pressures from groups of professionals, company interests or any other attempt at external pressure. In times like ours, when certain publications, both in our country and abroad, become mere mouthpieces for particular cliques or trends, On Diseño can proclaim its complete and absolute freedom of opinion. This circumstance has allowed the magazine to devote its attention to works that found it difficult, because they were situated outside the coordinates of “official architectural culture”, to obtain recognition in the specialised press.

In spite of the global nature of the concept of environment design defended by On Diseño, there is a logical trend towards publishing reports on object design. This results from the conviction that the country already has a certain number of publications dedicated on a monographic basis to architecture, something that cannot be said of design. We must remember that in 1978, when On Diseño was first published, the design of objects in this country was an incipient professional practice, lacking in any cultural, industrial and social relevance.

And in this field, On Diseño adopts a very clear and decided ideological position that situates the magazine in a pragmatic line that has been little divulged in our publishing context: design is not formal and culturalist speculation but rather an activity that involves a large number of agents and affects not only planning but also social, cultural, economic and productive aspects. Design understood, therefore, not as a fashion for the consumption of elitist cliques but as a proposal for the improvement of the quality of life of the human environment through a new approach in the design, production and use of the object.

The defence of this line of thought, which sits perfectly with the publishing policy of the magazine, leads On Diseño to overcome strict publishing limits in order to promote the works that show themselves to be the most appropriate and efficient for each situation and for each moment in time. It is in this approach where we must situate the exhibitions organised by the magazine in several of the country’s cities and, of course, the SIDI.

The SIDI (International Show for the Design of Fittings for the Habitat) is a creation of On Diseño devoted to making known, promoting and facilitating the marketing of design productions; domestic and office and installation furniture, lighting and textiles. Twenty years of history, over a hundred editions celebrated to date and a long list of cities – Valencia, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, Cologne, London, Madrid, Barcelona – make the SIDI the most efficient mouthpiece for our design abroad and one of the decisive factors in the consolidation of the domestic market.

This innovative platform, which brings together almost 70 companies producing good design in this country, could not have been possible without the support and the credibility conferred by the professional rigour of the On Diseño team.

The transcendence of this initiative, which gave rise to the creation of an independent company, and an unequivocal publishing trajectory that is fully involved in this culture, give it a different dimension that transforms On Diseño into something more than a pioneering review: it is a benchmark in the culture of Spanish design of the last twenty-five years.


Carme Ferrer and Carmen Llopis