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Research Center for Industrial Design (CIDI)

Conceived by Horacio Durán as a project honoring the human creativity, the school for design in the National University properly called Research Center for Industrial Design (abbreviated as "CIDI" in Spanish) has reached its forty-eighth’s birthday and continues to be a seminal part of the growth and evolution of Mexican design. Durán has been considered a paragon in the field of industrial design research;

[H]is path was traced based on quest, not on following the paths previously walked. He focused his lifework in Mexico’s material culture, in the objects that identified humans, in those companions created by men and for men to extend its body and capacities in order to benefit from nature and be able of accomplishing its rites.1

Su camino se trazó por la búsqueda, sin seguir caminos anteriormente recorridos. Centró su obra en el material cultural mexicano, en los objetos que identifican a los humanos, en los compañeros creados por los hombres y para extender el cuerpo y las capacidades con el fin de beneficiarse de la naturaleza y se capaces de realizar sus ritos.1

—Carlos Soto

When the CIDI was established, both Mexico and Mexico City were experiencing the consequences of an industrial boom. At this time, there was no intellectual school of thought that addressed the humanitarian and cultural problems brought about by the country’s industrialization. Then came Duran, whose “formation, as well as his accumulation of knowledge and experience, were driven by a yearning for cultivating youth’s spirit with this shared passion.”2 Duran gathered a group of architects and artists to initiate a technical career of design formation at the Universidad Iberoamericana, where it became an undergraduate major degree three years later. However, the formation as it was envisioned by Duran and his group proposed an even more ambitious scale; in 1964, as a teacher in the Faculty of Architecture in the National University, Duran began to devise a space dedicated to the formation of professionals focused exclusively on industrial design. It wasn’t until 1969 that the new head of the University, Pablo González Casanova, in collaboration with the Principal of the National School of Arts, Ramón Torres, endorsed Duran’s project and initiated its pilot in the Faculty of Architecture. The first generation of attendants had only 17 students; today, the school has dramatically grown in both size and importance as its alumni continue to shape the field of industrial design in Mexico.3

Fotografía: cortesía CIDI
Fotografía: cortesía CIDI

The goal of CIDI is to “observe the object as an entity that synthesizes the values of the human[, as a] reflection of needs and desires of the individual and the society [and] as a demonstration of knowledge and the act of unravelling the nature accrued in them by history.”4 Industrial design is a tangible expression of emotions and an explicit care for the beauty found in the roots of a community. It was according to these principles that the Syllabus for Design in UNAM was created, reflecting the same search for balance between science and arts as the CIDI.

The CIDI has posited itself as a space of openness between teachers and students and is widely considered a place of open dialogue that had not been present in any university at the time of its creation. A community of active researchers have emerged from the Center’s teachings, all united by a vision for a society in which design can be caring and considerate of its fellow community members.

Project name Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo Industrial CIDI
Period 1969
Author Horacio Durán, Clara Porset, Douglas Scott, Ulrich Scharer
Location Circuito Escolar s/n, Cd. Universitaria, 04510, CDMX
  1. Carlos Soto, “Homenaje a Horacio Durán, fundador de la Licenciatura de Diseño Industrial de la UNAM”, YouTube, May 3, 2011,
  2. Ibid
  3. Historia, Centro de Investigaciones de Diseño Industrial, Facultad de Arquitectura,
  4. Ibid