Form and Expression: Books by David Consuegra. Josep Maria Pujol

David Consuegra dedicated his half century of professional life not only to the realization of graphic design projects, but also in a very special way, to teaching at various universities a series of courses and seminars that were always informed by research. The other half of his research activities was channelled through various publishing projects that were mostly edited, designed, and financed by himself. His work in book design was limited, with just a few exceptions, to those that he also wrote, compiled, or occasionally commissioned himself. A study of the books that he conceived and designed with complete autonomy illuminates his ideas regarding the approach to teaching design subjects.


As well as being an enthusiastic lecturer, he was also a stern rationalist, rigorous and uncompromising when it came to judging his own work and that of others. It was his rationalism which led him in the first place to practising graphic design, and within this profession, to focus on teaching and research.


Regarding the illustrated book David designed some interesting educational books for children. Some examples are Las veintiséis letras (1964), and Educación musical by Graciela Ordóñez (1972), with poems and illustrations by himself. El mundo de los colores (first part) and Una vez, tres veces (1983a y 1983b, respectively) were intended to introduce colour and shapes to children.


The ideas that led David to create these projects can be found in an article he wrote, titled «Towards a more creative pedagogy» (n. 4 Nova, 1966). David believed that contemporary child pedagogy wrongly relied on memory; it was passive, and neglected the active faculties that every child has of relating, selecting, and inferring. His proposal was the adoption of «visual methods», and the need to re-structure the elements of communication to encourage the child to incorporate knowledge in his world and games, and relate to this knowledge very intimately. He also proposed a change in child pedagogy promoting the use of simple images and short descriptive passages of text in order to re-direct the learning process under spontaneous guides which the child is familiar with.


The book El libro de las figuras planas (1966) was aimed at helping the child to decide. In the revised edition [titled Una vez, tres veces (1983)] the purpose was to led the child to familiarize himself with a few basic flat shapes and colours (circle, semicircle, triangle, square, rectangle), to encourage him or her to create more complex shapes, in the same way that with a small number of letters it is possible to establish an unlimited varied discourse.


The book En busca del cuadrado (1992) follows the same line of interests as El libro de las figuras planas, but it belongs to the field of research and higher education of graphic design. The theory that underlies these books coincides with a tradition that formed the birth of design education at the Bauhaus. In En busca del cuadrado David contemplates this geometric figure as a «standardizing element», and the introduction contains a short but dense and rich synthesis of its various readings and uses.


With regard to the books that Consuegra dedicated to the typographic letter, it is worth noting American Type Design and Designers (2004). Up until the publication of this book there was no other work that dealt with American typography specializing in its designers. This book represents the most ambitious project by David Consuegra and it is the highest testimony of his knowledge and capacity of work.


David was not only an excellent designer, pioneer of Colombian graphic design; he was also, and above all, an authentic thinker who never dealt with any subject of the broad world of graphic design without leaving an imprint on it of his powerful personality.