Tomas Maldonado | i |
last name: Maldonado
first name: Tomas
birth-place: Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Tomas Maldonado, is a painter, industrial designer, teacher and design theoritician who has been highly influential on design thinking and practice since the 1960’s.

Maldonado advocated a systematic and scientific approach towards the design process. He is best remembered as one of the radical educators at the hochschule für gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, who shifted the focus away from its Bauhaus-based beginnings towards an approach that was felt to be appropriate to deal with the complexities of post-Second World War living.

Maldonado’s ideas on design were expressed in the 1970 book ‘la speranza progettuale’,the english translation of which is entitled ‘design, nature and revolution: towards a critical ecology’.

The text focussed on the human environment, which he characterized as “one of the many subsystems that compose the vast ecological system of nature.”

Following a systems theory model, he claimed that among subsystems, “only ours possesses today the virtual and real capacity of provoking substantial – that is irreversible
-disturbances in the equilibrium of other subsystems

Maldonado’s own practice has included the design of medical apparatus, office equipment, precision instruments as well as aspects of the urban environment.


1938 Studied at the ‘Academia Nacional De Bellas Artes’, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1941 Traveled to Uruguay, visited Joaquín Torres-García’s montevideo studio.
1945 Collaboratively formed the ‘Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención’ and co-wrote ‘The Manifiesto Invencionista’.
1948 Met Max Bill (swiss concrete artist) in Europe.
1954 Invited to teach design at the hochschule für gestaltung in Ulm, Germany by Max Bill.
1958 Featured as a key speaker at the Brussels World Fair, International debate on design and new industrial perspectives, spoke on the role of industrial design and society.
Introduced the new curriculum at the HfG, Ulm.
1960 Published an essay ‘Science and Design’ in collaboration with Giu Bonsiepe (design thinker at the HfG, Ulm).
1964 to 66 Rector of the hochschule für gestaltung in Ulm, Germany.
1965 Lethaby Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London.
1966 to 67 Visiting Senior Fellow of the Council of Humanities. ??
1968 Awarded the Design Medal by the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (Chartered Society of Designers).
1967 to 70 Chaired the ‘Class of 1913’ at the School of Architecture at Princeton University, New Jersey,USA.
1976 to 84 Professorship in environmental planning at The School of Philosophy and Letters,University of Bologna, Italy.
Served as an editor of a leading Italian design periodical, Casabella (1978-81).
1984 Professorship in environmental planning to the Faculty of Architecture, Milan Polytechnic,Italy.
1993 Co-ordinator of the doctoral research programme in Industrial design, established the first Italian degree course in Industrial Design.
Member of institutions
enter new comment
Please, be adviced that you are entering your text into a database, not into a social network! By entering a comment, you add to the database. We much appreciate comments making us aware of errors or deficiencies.