Puerto Rico's Duncan Del Toro (1919–1950) and Peripheral Modernity



Asseo Garcia, Arthur L

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This thesis studies the work of Duncan del Toro (1919–1950), the first industrial designer of Puerto Rico. After completing his undergraduate studies at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1942, del Toro returned to Puerto Rico to launch a design practice at a time when the island was on the verge of modernization. Del Toro was part of a generation dedicated to transforming Puerto Rico. To understand del Toro’s design work and his achievements it is essential to understand his context. Using a center/periphery approach, this thesis describes the milieus that influenced him growing up and in his career. I will attempt to show how del Toro’s carer was defined by the political, cultural and social dynamics between periphery and center. I seek to provide an understanding of the reality of a modernist designer who trained in the center—–the United States—but lived and worked in the periphery—Puerto Rico—and highlight the influences that defined his context. Del Toro’s work is looked at through a set of design principles that guided his career: the use of local materials, training of the workforce, the belief in local industry, the embrace of the values of modernity and the transculturation of such values through a unique local expression.



Industrial design, Transculturation, Peripheral modernity, Puerto Rico