Design Month in Buenos Aires

A good excuse to go shopping.

Marcelo Imbellone /FST
Buenos Aires has triumphed in design after consecrating itself in contemporary art. In 2005 it was designated as the first City of Design within the UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity’s Creative Cities Network, created in 2004. It now shares this distinction with Berlin, Montreal and Kobe. The cities that receive this honor are those that have made creativity part of their development strategy.
The Argentine capital is the third largest city in Latin America. It has a cosmopolitan population, thanks to the arrival of many European and Middle Eastern immigrants during the 20th century. The cultural sector provides 4% of local jobs. Public and private investments have encouraged the development of modern architecture, new urban design, and public spaces. Different groups of designers contribute to a constant renovation of creativity, and several design-related events take place in the city every year.

In response to the distinction awarded by the UNESCO, the Buenos Aires city government’s Metropolitan Design Center (CMD) has declared October a “Design Month.” The program includes more than 100 activities, among which are lectures, workshops, shows, open studios and presentations of new products for people in the business.
The part of the program that appeals to tourists is the “Shop Windows Circuit” of the businesses that sell creative clothing, footwear, jewelry, objects and graphic design in the neighborhoods of San Telmo-Barracas, Recoleta and Palermo. How do you know which is which? The program member exhibits a CMD logo. The products and prototypes displayed in shop windows are “responsible design” items made with recycled, environment-friendly materials. The best shop window will receive a 5,000-peso prize.

With a single exception, the design shops that appear on the CMD’s “Circuito de Vidrieras” map are not on the big commercial avenues, but rather on the side streets where there are a lot of small businesses. The 12 listed for Palermo are on Gurruchaga, Armenia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Humboldt and Thames streets; the five in Recoleta appear on Uruguay, Quintana and Juncal streets; and the seven mentioned in San Telmo are on Defensa, Balcarce, Perú, Carlos Calvo and Humberto Iº streets. The only one in Barracas is on Av. Montes de Oca. You can’t get the map off, however; you have to stumble on a shop with the logo in its window and ask the clerk for one.
But those who are interested in shopping in San Telmo can get a map off the Internet by visiting the neighborhood website and clicking on “Guía.” There they will see a list of 25 participants that is much longer and more representative than the one in the CMD folder.

PHOTO CREDIT: Interior and display window of one of the L'Ago art and design shops in San Telmo Marcelo Imbellone.