Category Archives: issue 10

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Farm Cultural Park

Farm Cultural Park is a Contemporary Cultural Urban Park and Tourist attraction. 
It is located in the heart of Sicily, in the historical center of Favara and 6 km from the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento.
 Farm Cultural Park promote the cultural and touristic development of Favara through captivating cultual exhibitions from artists, architects, designers but also graphic designers, musicians, writers, master chefs and creative individuals from diverse fields.

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Ahimsa: Showing Kindness to Dresses

Abstract: A recent conceptual fashion design exhibition Ahimsa has been displayed as a critical response against the rapacious growth of the fast fashion system through its means of production, design and consumption. The exhibition’s importance comes not only from positioning ethical fashion within the conceptual fashion design practice, but also from its status as the first critical fashion design exhibition in Turkey, which has been conceived and curated by academic and designer Şölen Kipöz in Izmir Ahmet Adnan Saygun Art Center, Izmir, Turkey, from 18 October to12 November 2012.

The word Ahimsa, which gives an important clue about the Kipöz’s design approach and methodology, refers to an attitude of  kindness and non-violence towards all living things.By adopting the concepts of recycling and do-it-yourself method in her sustainable design journey, Kipöz aims to transform and deconstruct the fragments of garments, and at the same time, avoiding harming them. She describes her production process as ‘articulation’ and ‘grafting’. Instead of using scissors to take the pieces apart, she makes use of an extractor manually, ripping off the pieces and re-stitching them together. In this way, the sartorial method of the designer emphasizes utilization of the inactive/ waste materials and garments. She describes these materials as ‘surprise materials’, and working with them gives the creator an opportunity to design innovative forms, and embark on a journey into unknown territory.

Kipöz cultivates traditional arts and craftsmanship by enhancing both the authentic and the sustainable characteristics of dresses in her designs. It is easy to understand the sensibility and responsibility in this design process, which allows the building of a transparent and confidential relation between user, designer, and producer.

When entering the exhibition, you will be delighted by the seemingly familiar traces which reflect the designer’s memories. Each of these designs clearly conveys their own unique and personal stories. Kipöz’s initial inspiration for this project was her grandmother’s cotton dress, dating back to 1940’s, which was passed down to her. The designer has transformed this valuable, but inactive piece into a new dress, by creating a collage which includes other mementos from the grandmother, and also a more recent garment, a torn shirt belonging to the designer ; she states  “I have immortalized these dresses by giving them a second life”. Thus the dress is at the beginning of a cycle in which various surplus and waste fabric can be used in later creative designs.

The structure of the exhibition has been created in conjunction with three experimental approaches, named as Nearest Things, The Old News and De-structured. The first of these, Nearest Things were more related with the possibility of the creative design solutions within the reality of daily life practices.  In this section, the designer showed how an ordinary object can be transformed into a monumental piece, through the use of cotton string market bags, a symbol of  a nostalgia in Turkish culture, and creating a structure by tying hundreds of bags to each other. Thus, thanks to its permeability, she not only ingeniously created a perfect visual texture, but also has given a new meaning to this  ordinary object.

In contrast, The Old News was very similar to the hybridization of the beauty of the natural, and the seduction of the imperfection. These dresses recall natural aging, imperfection, and aesthetics of recycled waste materials. Moreover, they are embedded with fragments of memories of the past. On the other hand, De-structured dresses reflect both a rather reductionist design approach, and re-interpretations of the memories associated with the clothes. Kipöz deconstructs the pieces through  a process of draping the fabrics around the body, morphing them to create new layers between body and space. Through these layers, the memory of the previous form of the dress is retained through its incorporation into a new design experience, for example a previously  invisible pocket suddenly becomes visible through hand stitches, or the absence of the collar recalls its former presence;  In the process of extracting the structural map of the dress, the designer highlights the relation between the dress and its memory. Thus, the dress becomes a document housing for the previously lost memory, which is now recovered.

During the exhibition, Kipöz shared her own personal memories with the audience, and presented the other lives of dresses. Sometimes she embarked on a sartorial journeys , with a flamboyant shirt from 1970’s harboring so many memories, or with another worn-out shirt turned into a skirt. The symbolic use of her grandmother’s sewing machine as a mythic object was the protagonist of one the installations of the exhibition entitled Next. In this exhibit the random patchwork of the unused fabrics and parts of the garments which had been produced during the design process represented an ironic imagery, set in contrast to the linear mechanization of the fashion industry.

Kipöz has taken great pleasure in displaying controversial designs highlighting the corrupting system of fashion. Her rebellion is against stereotypical and spiritless production and consumption of industrial and mass fashion system. She asserts “I wanted to produce dresses that leave something behind; […] Like us, they have also memory and resistance to something. Design can be a solution to the conformist, extravagant world of fashion. Perhaps it is possible to engage in seduction, luxury, the new, and ecology at the same time”.

The exhibition stresses the potential of slow fashion rituals to humanize fast fashion. Kipöz absorbs the viewer in  a time warp to encourage the recall of social memory, and to forces us  to find our own displaced roots. As far as possible he tries to keep her process transparent and open to interpretation, which involves the production of  open-ended designs. In her designs, new lives and experiences of old and meaningful dresses are encoded. In addition, both  the unworn and unused,  and also the damaged, and stained dresses destined to be thrown away, are transformed into  a ceremonial design experience, through the  revitalization of  the memory of the traces remaining from real life experiences.This process of revitalizing the design experience creates an empathy between the audience and the designer, by incorporating the concepts of the philosophy of Ahimsa.

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Corque Design: a New World Branding for Cork

Abstract: In April 2009, a new sustainable design brand based on cork – a Mediterranean, sustainable and eco-efficient proved material – was internationally launched during the Milan Design Week. The brand was baptized as Corque Design (Mestre, 2006). The originality of Corque Design remains for being the first–ever launched brand exclusively dedicated to cork and to its application in eco-design products. Hence, it offers a range of high quality furnishing products and accessories carefully designed by prestigious Portuguese designers for people who most value creativity, quality and eco-efficient design (Corque, 2009). The brand has already accomplished several small series production, which have been exhibited and commercialized in the European, American and Asian Markets. Corque Design brand resulted from an applied design research project – Design Cork (Mestre, 2008, 2013) – with a focus on the search for new applications and design solutions based on cork materials and technologies and on strategies and processes that championed the use of creativity and conceptual development towards sustainable product design innovation.

1. Design as a research-driven opportunity for Cork

Portugal has one of the largest cork oak forest areas in the world, to the point that cork oak forests (Fig. 1) have traditionally been a social and economic vital element playing a decisive role in economic and cultural activities. It remains to this day one of the greatest and most important Portuguese natural resources. Cork is a natural material with exceptional environmental qualities: it is a renewable, recyclable, non-toxic and durable resource, with excellent physical and mechanical properties. Cork extraction doesn’t require that trees be cut down in that cork is naturally renewable, as it grows back in the bark of the cork oak (about 1 cm per year). The cork bark is harvested every nine years through a careful manual process, without harming the cork oak or the environment (Mestre and Gil, 2011).

The Portuguese cork industry has a large technological capacity in terms of materials and processes (APCOR, 2009), however this capacity is not being fully exploited nor does it take advantage of the eco-efficient aspects of cork (Mestre and Gil, 2011). It is still mainly oriented to the traditional products and applications (stoppers, flooring and insulation construction materials), which in the majority of the cases, no longer represent competitiveness and differentiation. Natural cork, granulates, composite agglomerates and expanded agglomerates are four of the most noteworthy groups of cork materials available in the industry (Mestre and Gil, 2011). However, the scarcity of technologies suited to design and a certain lack of information on this matter shed light on the need for developing a systematic work that could field the knowledge of cork as a material for product design (Mestre, 2008; Mestre et al, 2009; Mestre, 2013).

Emerged from this thriving context and anticipating the launch of Corque Design brand, the Cork Design project (designated as Design Cork for Future, Innovation and Sustainability)(Mestre, 2008) has been implemented in the Portuguese Cork Industry for the period of 2006-2009 by Lisbon based Susdesign studio in collaboration with the Delft University of Technology with the following goals (Mestre, 2008; Mestre et al, 2009; Mestre, 2013):

a) Incorporate Sustainable Product Design Innovation as a strategic factor in the Portuguese cork industry;

b) Explore the application of potential uses of cork materials and technologies in Design, through research and development of new added-value and proved eco-efficient cork products and solutions, thus stimulating companies to innovate with cork and at the same time, motivate designers to work with this material;

c) Create awareness to foster strategies and implement activities to promote sustainable product innovation amongst a broad audience (academia, industry, designers and consumers).

To meet the three-presented goals, a Design Cork Intervention Approach to stimulate the cork sector to open the horizons for advanced product design, was formulated based upon the conceptual framework of Sustainable Product Innovation, Action Research and Design Methods (Mestre, 2013). This combination revealed to be an optimal approach to cork product innovation, generating a great product portfolio and potential market directions that could “openly” inspire the next generation of cork products and those contributing to rethink the future of the greatest material sector in Portugal. This is the subject of a detailed article submitted to the Journal of Design Research (Mestre, 2013).

Within this Design Cork Intervention Approach, new thirty-eight cork product-prototypes of different market categories (from furniture to technological devices) were presented for the first time. Speak of a team of 50 designers (Mestre, 2008) who joined the Design Cork Project Exhibition, presented in Lisbon, in May 2008 at the Berardo Museum (located at Belém Cultural Centre) (Fig. 2) which received 13 000 visitors (in the first 10 days). The successful results of the Design Cork Exhibition defined the rising moment of CORQUE DESIGN foundation.

2. Corque Design: Vision & Strategy

Corque Design founder Ana Mestre together with co-founder Gonçalo Riscado, introduces a new brand concept: “Designing Living Objects”, which refers to the design of new exclusive and differentiated products made from cork with unique sensorial properties and exceptional environmental characteristics (Corque, 2009). From the Mediterranean forest to the world most well-known design stores, as MoMA retail store, Corque early succeed as a recognized world brand and a trendsetter in the field of sustainable product design (Vilar, 2013).

The vision of Corque Design is to promote eco-efficient and sustainable ways of production and consumption while positioning cork in a worldwide sustainable development movement (Mestre, 2008). As recently quoted in the International Direct Arts International Magazine, Issue 4 (2013) “this is a Portuguese brand with its own seal of quality. Environmental awareness, a vision of sustainability, the questioning of established paradigms and a search for new solutions. Any challenge worth undertaking involves a good deal of irreverence along the way (…) This is the spirit in which Corque Design was created, a project that offers design objects made from cork that is proud of being entirely Portuguese, from the raw material used to the talent that works it. Like any good venture, it has already secured its place in the market” (Vilar, 2013).

Along these lines, the mission of Corque Design is to commercialize new creative products and solutions based on cork materials and technologies, ensuring the use of eco-efficient principles in product development and presenting exclusive and quality cork products while satisfying the economical, environmental and socio-culture concerns of a contemporary sustainable driven society (Mestre, 2008). In this, Corque Design offers quality and creative eco-efficient cork products for the home environment – furniture and accessories, targeting a medium to high-income adult audience that prizes creativity, differentiation and sustainable conscious design.

Anticipating the brand’s mission, Dowdy (2007) wrote in the Financial Times weekend edition of December 8-9, 2007 that “in the hands of young Portuguese Designers vying to save one of their country’s biggest export industries, the material is being transformed into something rather more creative and contemporary”. In 2010, the international Monocle Issue 37 (Monocle, 2010) dedicated to the theme of “Global Style Survey” with a guide of the brands, business trends and buyers of 2010 stated that “the material has now catched the attention of the country’s designers, eager to find sustainable ways to make product for daily living. Since 2006, Lisbon based Corque Design has used the natural, non-polluting and renewable material”. In November 2011, international Wired Magazine selected Corque Design as one of the Sustainability Icons of the year, showing-case the brand product collection at the largest Wired store ever, in New York Times Square, attended by 566,500 visitors (Millner, 2011).

Though it is a design brand with a distinct identity rooted in the Mediterranean cultural region, Corque Design’s impact grows internationally achieving, in a short amount of time, a global diffusion. From Lisbon Design studio headquarters and strategically implemented in several international destinations, the brand is managed from a creative (science based) entrepreneurial point of view. The brand’s plan and communication strategy is permanently enriched by external advice of strategists, marketers, designers, production engineers and commercial managers. Four brand concept-values defined the Corque Design strategy (Mestre, 2008):

i. Design & Innovation – Design experimentation is a relevant drive to innovation in Corque Design generating different types of product characteristics, visual features and functions. It implies the study and implementation of new concepts for cork and advanced materials research & development which are combined with both traditional production capabilities and 3D advanced technologies using cork agglomerates and composites.

ii. Creativity and Cultural Identity – while Design is nowadays considered one of the greatest influential marketing innovation tools, creativity through design is the most powerful tool for differentiation in product design. Accordingly, this is one of the most recognized values of Corque Design, which counts with a group of diverse designers, who are encouraged to explore and translate their own individual and social-cultural identities into their design work.

iii. Sustainability & Eco-efficiency – the natural and renewable characteristics of cork, its transformation process with little waste and low usage of resources and the high eco-efficient results that it generates, present not only acknowledged environmental benefits but a high social-economic value when compared with similar products made of other conventional materials. Specific LCA studies, based on Eco-efficient value creation are made for Corque Design products (Mestre and Vogtlander, 2013).

iv. Quality & Exclusivity – Corque Design works on a small-scale production with both technological and handmade processes, having a rigorous material selection and a precise control system. The overall production criteria, account for the brand’s values of quality and exclusivity. These values stand side by side with customers’ trust and loyalty. The sustainable, physical and sensorial characteristics of cork, highly contribute to label Corque Design as an exquisite and eco-trendy brand.

Corque Design brand logo (Fig. 3) was design to be a graphical easy recognition of those concepts. According to the brand’s graphic identity designer (Oliveira, 2009) “the brand identity concept combines cork and sustainability perception with a sophisticated and contemporary aesthetics yet using organic differentiated elements target to an urban eco-exclusive driven audience”.

3.Product Design Portfolio

Corque Design explores the diversity of cork materials, composites and technologies as expressed by the brand’s Design portfolio (Corque 2009, 2011, 2013). The products created by Corque Design meet the characteristics of sustainability, creativity, aesthetics, playfulness, sophistication, eco-friendliness, uniqueness and quality; and they are targeted to a public who values these aspects (Pires, 2011). Corque Design product portfolio includes innovative furniture pieces and accessories, with fifteen products designed by a team of professionals that includes names such as Fernando Brízio, Sofia Dias, Pedro Silva Dias, Luis Pessanha, Toni Grilo and Ana Mestre (also the brand´s creative director). “Corque Design began by focusing on objects such as ‘puf fups’ (seats made of spheres), chairs, candlesticks or ice buckets. In four years, it has diversified, expanded and triumphed” (Vilar, 2013).

Puf-Fup design by Mestre (2005) (Corque, 2009) (Fig. 4) is the most iconic piece of Corque and it is the brand’s first creation with the purpose of exploring the sensorial characteristics of cork through the application of 2500 natural cork spheres, thus providing a sensorial experience as a result of the body’s direct contact with the material. The structure of the string that links the spheres turns this piece into a malleable seat, challenging the user’s creativity to adapt it to his needs and self-comfort

Lagarta design by Mestre (2011) (Corque, 2011-12) (Fig. 5) is a playful and very flexible and multifunctional modular seat. It is produced from black expanded agglomerate, which is one of the most eco-efficient cork composites, for it only uses one boiling process at high temperatures, allowing the cellular structure of cork to expand. This process allows for a small quantity of material to increase its volume. In addition, it changes the natural colour of cork to a darker tone, without the introduction of any synthetic pigments.

Mestre has also designed a seat named Puf String (2008) (Corque, 2011-12) (Fig. 6), a playful seat taking to the limit the plastic and visual possibilities of rubber cork (a special cork composite with natural rubber). The Puf String is made of a single rubber cork belt strip, which is fixed by joint screws. The wavy movement creates the final aesthetic language of this object, which can be used as a single unit or as separable modules.

Vinco design by Grilo (2008) (Corque, 2011-12) (Fig. 7) is a sophisticated chair with a natural feel, produced from a combination of cork agglomerate and rubber cork. This chair is named after its aesthetic form, which results from the creases produced in a cork composite slab and that enable a volumetric installation on top of a polished steel structure.

Wallcork design by Dias (2008) (Corque, 2011-12) (Fig. 8) is an innovative and unique wall covering that brings the texture of natural cork produced in rolls with vibrant visual patterns. This ‘wallpaper’ has low environmental impact coloration, due to the water-based printing processes that are used. In addition, the use of natural cork adds acoustic and thermal insulating characteristics, which fulfills an advantage point in relation to similar products made of other materials.

Corque Design collection also includes ten additional pieces launched in 2009 for the debuted catalogue of the brand. This is the case of Vine wine cooler design by Mestre and team (2009) (Corque, 2009), one of the brand’s designs selected by MoMA retail store in New York and Tokyo.  All of the abovementioned creations have been presented in exhibitions in several world cities and they can be better appreciated on the website and on the current catalogue of the brand (Corque, 2013).

4. Internationalization

Soon after the launch of Corque Design in 2009 (Fig. 9), the brand met its first approach to international markets. The first year results were significant and the brand soon started to be represented in European cities such as Oporto, London, Berlin, Milan, Madrid, Helsinki and Lisbon (Fig. 10). Outside of the European context, the brand was one of the selected brands for “Destination Portugal”, a MoMA retail store initiative taking place in New York and Tokyo. At the same time, Corque was being represented in Los Angeles at Touch studio. Later in 2009, Corque Design was invited to be represented in Shangai World Fair, at the Portuguese Pavilion (Fig. 11). “Early on, it crossed the border and has already reached dozens of destinations in four continents. Although Oceania does not feature in its curriculum vitae, having a loyal international public is a source of pride” (Vilar, 2013).

In 2011-12, a second internationalization phase began, taking Corque Design to East and West: it reached the US market with the brand’s largest international exhibition at New York Design Week (Fig. 12); in Hong-Kong (China) it was for the first time represented in commercial design stores, followed by Tokyo (Japan) and Dubai (Emirates) retail stores; in 2012, CORQUE DESIGN was showcased in Belo Horizonte, at the fourth Brazilian Design Biennale and soon in 2013, arrived in São Paulo Design stores and Rio de Janeiro galleries (Fig. 13). Along the way, international retailers and design galleries purchased small series productions and started to sell pieces from the brand’s collection (Fig. 14). Thousands of contacts have been made with a professional audience (mostly architects and interior designers) who is now the main follower and largest buyer of Corque Design, while international groups as Microsoft, Google and BMW are in the list of earlier adopters of Corque Design.

The world exhibition portfolio of Corque Design (Fig. 15) includes some of the most relevant world design events such as ‘Tortona Milan Design Week’ (2009), ‘Helsinki Design Week’ (2009), ‘Lisbon Design Show’ (2009), ‘Shanghai World Fair’ (2009), ‘New York Meatpacking Design Week’ (2010 and 2011), ‘Biennale International de Liége’ (2010), ‘Portugal Criativo Barcelona’ (2011), ‘Experimenta Lisbon Design Biennale’ (2011), ‘Most Salone Milan Design Week’ (2012), ‘Interior Life Style Tokyo’ (2012), ‘IV Brazilian Design Biennale’ (2012), ‘Portugal-Brazil Year’ (2013).

Additionally, a series of lectures and seminars have been given by the Corque´s founder and creative director to promote the scientific content related to the new cork products development and cork innovation. These included, amongst others, the Ecodesign conference in Japan, the Creative Industries conference in Helsinki or the Brazilian Design Biennale conference (Fig. 16). Participation in both exhibitions and seminars target potential international markets for Corque Design and have been decisive in terms of the brand international recognition, gathering media attention, public discussion and international dissemination.
There is a loyal audience movement that has been following the brand in different world locations, strengthening the proximity of Corque´s founders and designers to its audience. Ultimately, the global design networks used to promote design value and local cultural identity enhancement are contributing to achieve a stronger social design democracy. These design principles have been gaining force since the first introduced ‘Design technology for a better life’ Bauhaus doctrine and Ulm design philosophy by Maldonado (1953), who saw the design process as ‘a system embodying both scientific-based and intuitive-based thinking’, and finally by the social-ecological Design approach of theorists as Papanek (1972), Bonsiepe, (1978) and Manzini (1990).
Corque Design is today recognized as a scientific research-based sustainable design brand. Its involvement both in academic research and design practice (as a commercial operation) reveals to be an original and successful approach for the future of Sustainable Product Design. “Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures” (Papanek, 1972).


APCOR, (2009). APCOR Year Book 2009, Portuguese Cork Association, Santa Maria de Lamas.

Corque, (2009). Corque Design 2009: Designing living objects, Corque design, Lisbon.

Corque, (2011). Corque Design 2011-12: Designing living objects, Corque design, Lisbon.

Corque, (2013). Corque Design 2013: Designing living objects, Corque design, Lisbon, also available at:

Dowdy, C., (2007). Put a cork in it. Financial Times weekend edition. December 8-9. European Edition.

Maldonado, T., (1958). New developments in the training industry in product, Ulm.

Manzini, E., (1992). Prometheus of the Everyday: the ecology of the artificial and the designer‟s responsibility, Design Issues, vol.9, no.1, pp.5-20.

Mestre A., (2005). SM DESIGN – Significados da Matéria no Design,  Lisbon: Susdesign.

Mestre, A., (2006). Corque PT Design Brand ®. National Institute of Industrial Property. National Trademark nº 406513, filed 26 September 2006, issued 28 January 2008, also available at:

Mestre A., (2008). Design Cork for Future, Innovation and Sustainability, 1St Edition. Lisbon: Susdesign.

Mestre A., Brezet H., Christiaans H., (2009). A Material-based Design Intervention Model (Mb- DIM) for Sustainable Product Innovation: The case of the Design Cork Project. Ecodesign 2009, 6th Inter. Symposium on Env. Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing, Union of Eco designers and AIST, Sapporo.

Mestre A., Gil L., (2011). Cork for Sustainable Product Design, Sc. & Technol. of Mater. nº 23, 52-63.

Mestre A., (2013). Sustainable Product Innovation with Cork: A Design Action Intervention Approach, Journal of Design Research (submited).

Mestre A., Vogtlander, J., (2013). Eco-efficient value creation of Cork Products: an LCA-based method for Design Intervention. Journal of Cleaner Production,

.Millner, R., (2011). Largest Wired store ever hits Times Square. November 9, 2011, also available at:

Monocle, (2010). Inventory nº 37, Monocle Issue 37, Vol. 4, October 2010, 73, also available at:

Papanek, V., (1972). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, New York: Pantheon Books.

Pires, S., (2011). Design, Cortiça e Sustentabilidade. Casas & Negócios, Issue 46, Oct – Nov, 60-68.

Vilar, C., (2013). Making History with CORQUE. Direct Arts International Magazine, Issue 4, (pp. 76-80), also available at:

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Interview with Vincenzo Castellana

Abstract: Vincenzo Castellana is an architect, designer, lecturer and co-founder, together with the executive committee of ADI Sicily, the regional delegation of ADI (Association for Italian industrial design).  For several years, he has been conducting activities aimed at the exploitation of local, territorial resources, both as an architect, through works of architectural recovery and as a designer committed to modernizing outdated productions in the territory. Current President of ADI Sicily, Castellana endeavors to establish communication between the world of little production companies and craftsmanship with the young designers from the schools of art and design.

Alessandra Fazio: Where did the idea for ADI Sicily come from?
Vincenzo Castellana: The story of the Sicilian delegation is almost an anecdote.
ADI has existed since 1956. The delegations were established under directorate of Gianni Forcolini in the early years of 2000. A process began of convening in regional areas, from which the delegations sprung out. The Sicilian delegation was among the last to be formed.
In 2007, designOrientity, a business related to my professional activity, was selected for publication in the volume ADI Design Index, which is in fact a nomination for the Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass award). DesignOrientity is a permanent laboratory that connects designers and craftsmen, and over the years has developed a collection of objects (about 15).
In the same year, during the Salone del Mobile (Furniture Showroom) in Milan, I was invited to form the delegation ADI Sicily by former President Forcolini.
In parallel, Professor Vanni Pasca, in a predominantly academic ambit, was already working on the birth of ADI Sicily, so I contacted Pasca informing him of my intention to establish the delegation and we were both happy to join forces to come to the establishment of the Sicilian delegation.

What kind of path is ADI Sicily pursuing?
Since its foundation, the delegation is carrying on the initiative “Ferri di richiamo” (Iron tools) with which this year we were guests in Milan at ADI, during the Salone del Mobile. This is a series of meetings aimed at deepening the knowledge and value of some instances of high-quality design and production in the history or modern affairs of our region.
“Ferri di richiamo” in building tradition serve to continue construction over time; in this sense, the meetings proposed by the delegation serve to strengthen that process of signification which not always in the past in Sicily has made its quality and culture recognizable.
With this goal in mind, the delegation has also launched collaborations with the artistic school of Caltagirone, specializing in ceramic production, with design schools of territorial excellence such as the the Abadir Academy and with small and medium production realities.

What prospects are there for design in Sicily?
It is a very difficult question that is almost impossible to answer today, as it does not depend only from ADI and the variables or the combinations necessary so that we can envisage design as the path to value in Sicily are several. The process at the core is one that depends on training. In this regard, we are confident Academies will open to design, in conjunction with the transformation of course curriculums in schools of art and the growth of university courses with a more pragmatic approach and workshops, as well as that of Abadir where young designers may learn how to become themselves entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is necessary that organizations that no longer operate only on a regional level decide to take advantage of design and to be representatives of this culture. I care in this regard to point out the example of Moak, a producer of coffee, which is set to revolutionize its image entrusting to Bob Noorda the restyling of its logo, the aim being to assert itself as a company that believes in quality. It therefore is a problem of companies maturing and becoming aware that to be active quality planners means promoting a new way of doing business, of communicating and also of manufacturing new products. For some weeks now, the Sicilian delegation of ADI has formalized a partnership with MOAK. The cooperation includes the establishment of a biannual research project which attempts to simulate the project of a Corporate Museum for the company.

So its a matter of business strategy?
Yes, that’s correct! Strategy allows you to reach into new markets and to assert your business. Strategy must be planned out and as such, includes design. Obviously, product innovation is only one of the ramifications of the course of innovation chartered within the company.
Sicilian companies must understand that the only possibility in this situation of economic crisis that we are living is innovation through design.

In this regard, how is ADI Sicily going about the process of spreading awareness among businesses?
I have already spoken of “Ferri di richiamo” which is one of the activities of cultural promotion in which we present case histories that tell more of the collaboration of companies and designers in an event within one showroom in Sicilian territory.
Among other initiatives organized is the event “The product of the ceramic design”, periodically scheduled in Caltagirone in the secondary school of the arts for ceramic design with the aid of various supporters. The initiative provides for the creation of workshops and design exhibitions.
Last year, the first edition of the event saw a partnership with Bitossi, the company that produces ceramics designed by Ettore Sottsass, in addition to those of Karim Rachid and Luisa Bocchietto. This year will feature guest appearance by Alessi, whose ceramic creations are the focus of an exhibition inaugurated on May 18 and the designer workshop of 3 days on the theme: “Tea and Coffee”. The latter involves the best 5 students of 5th year classes of the secondary school, associated with 5 students and 5 craft enterprises chosen on in the Calatino territory, so as to constitute 5 groups of 2 students and a craftsman.
These activities are expected to bring two types of results: the first is to encourage collaboration between young designers and artisans through training activities, in an effort to understand that design must promote a circular process that involves the planning and design stage, production, sale and consumption. If this process is interrupted, the project dies before it even starts; this is the problem that we have been dragging for ages in Sicily.
Moreover, now ADI Sicily is one of the promoters of the III International Competition “Mediterranean Design”, launched every two years by PAD journal for the design of new scenarios of Mediterranean design.

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New design geographies. International workshops in Sicily

Abstract: 2012 seems to have been a relevant year for design in Sicily. From Giulio Iacchetti to Giovanni Levanti, the island has witnessed numerous designers who have been invited by different institutions for various projects, thereby bringing to it their own experience. What is actually going on? Why are designers starting to spend time in Sicily not only for their holidays but also for the purposes of design? Is there a new wave that is inverting general trends and the usual geography of design dynamics? Who promotes design on the island and why do they do it? The most active side has certainly been the education sector. Since 2000 the Design courses of the Faculty of Architecture in Palermo have promoted a lot of activities connected to the world of design and now other institutions have taken the initiative of starting to call designers to teach on the island. One of these institutions is Abadir Academy, a private institution authorized by the Education Ministry.

In 2010 the Academy launched Abadir Design, a new department aimed at training designers to design our contemporaneity and to develop new ideas able to shape the future and the time in which we are living.

Last year among the department special activities hosted two of the most active designers of the current panorama in Italy and Europe: Giulio Iacchetti, a designer based in Milan, awarded with the Compasso d’oro in 2001, together with Matteo Ragni for the Moscardino project, and lagranja design, an Italian-Spanish studio based in Barcelona, designer of several products for Foscarini, Poltrone Frau, Metalco, Palucco and others.

Both workshops were inaugurated with an open lecture held by the designers who outlined their professional path by talking with students, architects, teachers and other designers. These have proved to be very important didactic occasions as well as opportunities to raise the public’s awareness regarding issues of design, as well as to convey the value of the synergy between the designer and companies.

Secondo imbrunire was the title Giulio Iacchetti gave to his workshop, in homage to the homonymous song by Franco Battiato. Out [of the] Door was one of the Master’s activities in product design and it aimed to explore the possibilities of volcanic material and to experiment with its features in the production of objects. The choice to work on the material of the volcano strongly rooted the workshop to the identity of the place, its nature and its uniqueness. As in the Franco Battiato song whose lyrics enhance the charm, the colors, smells and sounds related to Mount Etna and its landscape, the workshop with Iacchetti sought to explore these places starting from the quarries, where the material is stripped from the volcano, to the craftsmen, the industrial process, the production companies and the supply chain.

In July, the activities of the design department of the Academy moved to the coast and its beaches. Vamos a la Playa was the workshop conducted by Gabriele Schiavon and José Manuel Fernandez from Lagranja Design; for Abadir they proposed a new workshop once again linked to the nature of the Sicilian territory that has become a testing ground for the design of devices for the beach, the shore and the sea.

Istanze di design was the name of the workshop curated by the Foundation Fiumara d’arte and Antonio Presti in collaboration with AIAC and Press/T factory, which was held in Tusa at the Museum Hotel Atelier sul Mare.

The topic of the international workshop was the development of a hotel room for the Atelier Sul Mare according to the wishes expressed by the Foundation: to create a permanent laboratory which combines the artistic processes with the production of everyday objects, through the mutual exchange between local artisan and the design skills of the artist-designer.

The workshop, which lasted a week, was led by Giovanni Levanti, Mario Trimarchi, Chris Kabel from Droog Design, Michael Obrist from feld-72 and Wyssem Nochi from Lebanon. Tutors assisted students between project activities and theoretical meetings, rethinking the spaces of the Tusa museum and the surrounding park, dotted with important sculptures that over the years, Antonio Presti has commissioned from artists such as Tano Festa or Pietro Consagra.

The workshop held in Caltagirone with Luisa Bocchietto and Vanni Pasca was devoted to ceramics and the tradition of some major Italian companies.

Entitled Il design del prodotto ceramico, the event was organized by the Sicilian Delegation of ADI together with LADEC and it was developed on two levels: a laboratory itself and an exhibition dedicated to Bitossi ceramics through 20 artifacts produced by the company since 60s to today, with pieces by Ettore Sottsass, Karim Rashid, Mario Ferraini and the same Luisa Bocchietto. After the workshop, molds were shaped at the Montelupo factory and then again prototypes were created in Caltagirone. Therefore, a new series of ceramic products for Bitossi took life thanks to this experience and they will be presented soon in Milan along with a special event.

In December, Giulio Iacchetti returned yet again as he was called by the Kore University of Enna, where he held a one-week workshop entitled S/Tools. Once again, it was an active laboratory that involved local craftsmen, which produced 10 real stool prototypes according to the main theme of the workshop: the stool and how to sit down.

Iacchetti and the city of Enna had already met a few months earlier. The castle of the Sicilian city hosted the show Cruciale last June. Curated by Beppe Finessi, the exhibition showed 21 crosses the famous designer has created starting from the assumption that contemporary design is no longer only related to the material sphere of our existence but also to emotional, sentimental and spiritual functions.

It is the same Iacchetti who has announced new possible geographies for design. The radical change of economic processes and the new dynamics of the market, accompanied by technology and new communication systems, have deeply upset the model in which design was related only to large industrial systems based in the north of the world. Today it is possible to produce design with few elements: a good designer and a skilled artisan or small business with technology on one side, and small-scale production on demand, web as a showcase to the whole world and powerful means of transport for shipments on the other side.

It’s already an on-going phenomenon that has given an opportunity for growth to peripheral regions unable to deal with industrial dynamics.

In this sense, Sicily, if able to acquire virtuous designers capable of creating value from its territory, could without question generate new projects and new economies. This is the mission of design schools and laboratories spread around the island: to train designers and raise awareness among entrepreneurs. Events and facts recounted here may indeed be a sign of this trend.

Lucy Giuliano is an architect and director of Accademia Abadir in Catania. She studied at the Faculty of Architecture in Palermo and at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona (ETSAB), obtaining a MA degree of Historia, arquitectura, arte y ciudad, and DEA degree (Diploma de Estudios Avanzados) in the Projects Department. From 2000 to 2011 she worked at the Arata Isozaki office in Barcelona, as architect in concept and design buildings. She participated to several project developed between Barcelona and Tokyo. Beyond architecture, she also collaborated to several publications. During her period at AIA office she broadened her interests in intersection between architecture, contemporary culture, territory and current issues in society. Since 2010 she is full time engaged as director of ABADIR Academy (Arts Between Architecture Design & Interdisciplinary Research) in Catania.


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Design and new processes between culture and service

Abstract: Places and services in Palermo are abuzz with new activities and processes. A territory almost devoid of industries, marked at the beginning of the 20th century by the Workshops Ducrot, seems to now have grasped the value of the word design and has begun to experiment with its various forms. The word Design (project) in the city candidate as 'European Capital of Culture 2019', is not only cool, fashion or for a few but has been transformed into: lab, creative industries, self-generation, service design, co-design.

Companies and cultural associations are linking their activities with the world of design, sometimes unconsciously, other times in an almost natural way they turn into companies that are able to provide goods and services in an innovative way. Let’s see who are the actors and places where this change is occurring.
We will start from Addiopizzo, a voluntary association spontaneously born to support the fight against the racket of Mafioso blackmail, producing goods and activities with brand name Addiopizzo. The association publishes the lists of the names of the professionals and companies that take position against Mafia and organises the Party of critic Consumption “I will pay those who won’t pay” that is based on the idea of “common good”, example of shared management aiming at overcoming the Mafioso system. Through its services Addiopizzo Travel, a rich calendar of trips to the places symbol of the struggle against Mafia through the discovery of a territory that is resisting blackmail money, the association is turning into social enterprise, thus attaining the world of design of services with a project of ethical tourism. Since 2005 the visual communication of Addiopizzo has been looked after by Fausto Gristina, member of the Committee Addiopizzo and visual communication expert for FAI, Federation of Italian Antiracket Associations.
NEXT | New Energies for the Territory is an association dealing with development strategies and interventions for the innovation and sustainability of the organisations and the social contexts. It has carried out some research on “artefacts of history within the internationalisation processes of Palermo” realised with the support of the Foundation Banco di Sicilia. Starting from a mapping of the architectural places and goods turned into multi-purpose museums and urban parks, the association has developed the app Urban City Guide Palermo, a guide that tells about Palermo as a different city, that is to say a city that has been transformed, with the recovering of the ex-industrial areas, new generation urban parks and public spaces, co-working, design hotels, bars and shops.
Aware of mixing together cultural practices and design, RE FEDERICO co-work is a project by CLAC (Lab Centre of Contemporary Arts), a cultural enterprise engaged in Palermo since 2003. The aims of its project are: to test new practices of social innovation, to support the emerging lifestyles of the creative young people, to create a virtuous example of participatory economy based on new themes that put together designers and architects of sustainability sharing the same aims and projects. Some of the co-work activities propose mappings for young people (Use-it), practices of co-distribution of products of the territory and research and project tables about agrindustrial design.
Accommodation places in the city turn into places for experimenting new cultural processes. N38E13 “micro hotel” and association of social promotion within a historical building of Maqueda street, becomes a place of creation, use and connection between arts. The space devoted to visual and sound arts and to design will house residences, laboratories, exhibitions and meetings about culture, tourism and territory in an innovative way.
With the aim to carry out some good practices and a conscious design, between training and meeting, sensibiliambienti, puts in practice new forms of co-production. It is an agency of exhibit design of sustainable creative spaces and it deals with logistic support, training, distribution and design for a new ethic system of out-fitting.
New forms of design-handicraft, in a little lab in the historical centre, draw inspiration from the local materials that are poor and typical and turn into miniminimondi (Miniworlds). Narrow-gauge boxes and postcards that can be sent by mail, contain tiny alternative spaces. The delicate paper works come from the common passion for poor or waste materials of Carmela and Nina, two non-Sicilian women arrived in Palermo a few years ago.
A store that becomes the meeting point between the customer and the stylist. Rizzo Manufacture studio is a crossing between a creative space and a handicraft laboratory where the tailor-made product becomes a service. A place where the creative/manufacturing process followed out in details takes place along with the customer and the realisation of shoes and bags is carried out through hand-crafted processes within the laboratories of Scius.
Sartoria Maqueda is also an experimental Laboratory and co–design along with customers. It is a place where territoriality, design, dressmaking tradition of pret-à-porter with the brand Mitzica give birth to street-dressmaking and creative recycling. Inside the shop it is also possible to ask for stylistic consulting and trend research through the project b-plan.
Artes, an association dealing with the diffusion and promotion of textile art in all its shapes is the result of Giulietta Salmeri’s research and experimentation. Rugs, scarves, wool decorating textiles and cloths, cotton and linen are contaminated by other materials, such as paper and copper through the use of looms with 2, 4 and 8 heddles.
Pradlab is a system of services dedicated to design and manufacturing, belonging to the design and rapid prototyping study of the same name, able to provide support and consulting in every stage of the creative, design and manufacturing process: from the concept to the final product.
Whereas cultural enterprises and associations with the attitude of creative operators are transforming the concept of enterprise, there is also someone who has made their own design work turn into a brand, as in the case of the brand OJI, set up by the designer Giuseppe Pulvirenti together with the cabinet-maker Carlo Caruso Jr. This brand produces and markets the products that arise from the confrontation with other cultures, characterised by a fusion of ideas, shapes, atmospheres and colours, according to a will expressed by the brand itself: for Oji is the name of a metro-station of Tokyo, while in Italian the pronunciation is ‘oi’ that means ‘today’ in the ancient Sicilian dialect. Oji products are marketed by Spaziodeep, a special concept-store promoting design on the island through its own magazine and blog.
Maribelle 615 designed and produced by two young designers, Francesco Belvisi and Vito Pavia, is an innovative sailing boat, 6,15 m long, characterised by tube-shaped tires that make it a mix between a sailing boat and a rubber boat. Pointed out in the adi index 2011, the first model of the boat has been self-manufactured by YAM, a company born thanks to the company start up of the University of Palermo and assisted by the Consortium Arca.
The reuse of spaces with new modalities and the restart of old handicrafts seem to be the key-point of studio427, born in Palermo in a space of industrial archeology in Brancaccio, that has moved to an old carpentry in Alloro street. Founded by the Swiss designer Alfred von Escher with the cooperation of Raffaella Guidobono as advisor of the study in the communication strategy, it is an atelier/studio of co-design, where old furniture is recovered: wooden platforms, pallet, no longer used scaffolding boards, no longer used cloths and equipment of theatre sets are employed for new purposes, with simple forms suitable for daily uses, such as the furniture line Leftover, presented in the last Milan Design Week.
Pivviccì products originate from the same passion for design and attention to the eco-sustainability of manufacturing. They are totally hand-made with materials recycled by local artisans.
The first project developed by the group Snap, made up of very young designers of the island is Metroquadro proget, a series of furniture pieces to be put together, thought to be within a plywood sheet, whose dimensions are multiple or sub-multiple of the square meter. Easy to be assembled and stored, they express the will to limit the production wastage.
cut&paste  is the studio of three young designers that deal with the topic of “self project”, projects animated by games and creative activities to be shared with those who buy them: Patella is a lampshade made up of several ribbons of notched paper to be self-assembled and Wally is a vinyl sticker to be self-applied, both self-manufactured by the studio that works above all in the field of visual and exhibition design.
Freelance designer, Gandolfo David without forgetting or referring to traditions (as in the products designed by him for the brand OJI together with Giuseppe Pulvirenti), mixes together shape, material and colour in an interesting collection of “illumination” tiles. Designed for the Studio Le Nid, an atelier created in the mid-sixties that is still working between tradition and experimentation.
Designer of exterior and interior furniture, Roberto Serio has some important partnership with leader companies within the national and international panorama. He designs exterior furniture collections for Talenti, luxury collections or the legendary company Turri and for Visionnaire.
The “germ” of design in Palermo has a long history. Since the eighties, there have been many designers and companies at international level that have been spreading the germ of the “project” within the design courses with several moments of high training, information and experimentation.
From the sustainable awareness to the research of new recipes anti-crisis: reuse of spaces with new modalities, restart of old crafts, employment of new technologies, experimentation of new cultural processes, services for the territory, that is how design shapes itself in Palermo.

It’s no coincidence that within the Cultural Yards of Palermo, the idea of a start up of creative enterprises becomes a new incubator. Cre-zi, managed by the Consortium Arca, already coordinator of the incubator of the University of Palermo, in collaboration with the innovation lab Catamiati, aims at encouraging the birth of new enterprises in the fields of the economy of knowledge, such as show, fashion, design, audiovisual and editorial production.

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Paolo Zaami. The flow of things

Abstract: Paolo is an illustrator, graphic and product designer, born in Palermo in 1986 and currently based in Milan. Graduated in Industrial Design at University of Palermo, then he moved to Milan to follow a master’s degree in Design Innovation. In 2011 he collaborated with Marco Piva office, being part of several design projects for Vitrum, KME, Unopiù. In 2012 he worked at Total Tool studio, dealing with research and graphic design for A2A, Expo 2015, Barbanera. Currently he works at DINN! Design Innovation Studio in Milan where he brings his knowledge of graphic and product design, his vision and his aim of “doing it right”. Discreet, accurate and determined; keen about art, illustrations and plasticine. Moving around a multicultural and multidisciplinary planning dimension, he has learned that design is fusion of knowledge.

Il flusso delle cose project

Everyday we are exposed to a huge amount of data and media content. We are inside a constant stream of experiences. Every action and relation is recorded beyond our will: we are always tracked. The aim of this thesis is to understand the process of tracking and how it can turn into an useful mean for designers. I have started this path asking myself the following questions: how can we understand our relationship with things? Can we realize useful tools to understand this relationship? Through these tools, can a designer analyze the value of things he/she lives with? Can a self-tracking path helps a designer to understand his/her personality and subconsciously hidden relationship with things? The thesis starts with a research which deals with different subjects starting from the analysis of the human behavior related to things: from the need to remember and memorize, to the complexity of data to deal with, ending with the self tracking. Then, there is the concept and the metaproject sections where I have recorded my own tracks. Hence the sofware “Designmapps” is developed. This software/app is created to catch and memorize technical and sensitive details. Day by day, designer enrich his/her personal archive which becomes a resource of studying and planning.

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Interview with Vincent

Vincent, or Vincenzo Billeci, born in 1988 is a fashion designer native of Palermo. Despite his young age, Vincent is already showing his talent at high levels. Recently, in fact, his collection fall winter 13-14 has been mentioned on in the new talents section. Great sensitivity for Sicilian tradition impoverished by every overdone stereotype and accompanied by a focus on the contemporary. A work of research that takes its cue from religious and anthropological symbolism of Sicily processed carefully observing the figurative arts of our times and structuring a good theoretical research on performance art and body art giving rise to a style that is consistent and adequate. We get to know Vincent better in this interview.

Giuseppe Mendolia Calella: Vincent… tells us more about yourself. Why are you involved in Fashion design?
Vincent: As a child I always wanted to be the stylist; i dreamed the haute couture in Paris. Fashion was not only a passion but a reason for living, a constant commitment that has brought me where I am today. I am involved in fashion because among the visual arts, it is the one I express best, narrating the tale of my land, my aesthetic taste through fashion collections.

A Sicilian soul with no overstatements, tradition and innovation. In your concept and in your stylistic search they seem to be recurring staples… wouldn’t you agree?
Yes! in my collections, there is a very strong bond with Sicily, its traditions and all that religious symbolism so dear to me. At the same time, I always try to reformulate the whole in new aesthetic codes, expressing something extremely contemporary.

You studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo; you have presented a thesis on sculpture as vestment with curator and art historian Laura Barreca. It seems to me that visual arts make a strong impression on you, don’t they?
The Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo was a very important time in my life. The Academy has allowed me to develop a critical conscience and offered and opportunity to experience; as in my work on the thesis: “Art, fashion and technology between XX and XXI century”.
Starting with the first experimentations in the 20th century, the fluxus and the birth of the performance art , together with Emanuela Graci I created a video-installation where through costume, the body is deformed and changes shape, always creating new solutions. Contemporary art is essential in my creative process, in particular those artistic disciplines where the body becomes the instrument of research.

Was there an encounter, a significant moment in your career that you recall as being decisive?
No, there was no precise moment, but many small moments that day after day have allowed me to grow and made me known to a wider public. The publication of the collection fall winter 13_14 on surely represents a very important starting point.

In Sicily, what is the role of haute couture? Is there a system, are there any points of reference?
Someone before me has said: “ The Sicilian women know how to dress well without lacking taste. ” I believe that Sicilian women are truly among the most careful and sophisticated, but at the same time, I think that the role of fashion in Sicily has lost a once known privilege. I would like to mention Donna Florio; she was considered to be the most elegant woman in all of Europe [ … ]. So it is the new generation of Sicilian stylists who have the task of spurring a new stylistic renaissance.

What are you going to be doing in coming months? What are your goals?
I’m already working on the Spring Summer 2014 commuting between Milan and Palermo, and I hope to continue my work to the fullest, and always give more credibility to my brand.

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Alessandro Squatrito. New reality for old locations

Born on a warm day of November, in Palermo, he grew up surrounded by the beauty of his city. He studied in Palermo, A Coruña and Venice where he concluded the master degree in product design at the Iuav University in 2012 with the project “Nuove realtà per vecchie località” (New reality for old lacations).

He has worked between Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom, after a collaboration with Cibicworkshop, he is currently collaborating with the studio Chris Kabel in Rotterdam.

He works in product and graphic design.

New reality for old locations

So what makes any place a nice place? Probably the people who live there and the relationships that are established between them, but if at some point these people abandon it and forget it, then it loses not only its beauty, but also loses its sense of place.

This thesis talks about Sicily, small towns built sixty or more years ago, and talks about reactivation, new forms of tourism, paths, nature and new proposals.

The work is divided into two key moments: the first comprehensive research on the meaning of abandonment and how to reactivate existing in Europe. In a second time, the idea focuses on the villages farm built in Sicily between 1920 and 1960, during the Fascist period for the plan nicknamed “piano di colonizzazione del latifondo siciliano“, between fifty and more villages built, four were chosen for their geographical and morphological switches and have proven potential for a large and complex project reflection. It is given initial impression of use for each of the four villages, each village subsist thanks to a resident community through agriculture produced in the adjacent fields in turn occupies the management and operation of the entire service; of the four villages then for their characteristics is intended for specific uses: a joint tourism, a centre for art and crafts, a centre for research and agricultural production and a small alb ergo diffuse.

The project focuses on the path of one hundred and eleven kilometres that connects the four villages, the latter to be made on foot, on horseback or by bike, through not only the villages as well as areas of natural beauty, try to reactivate areas normally excluded from traditional tourism markets such as the agricultural areas of the Sicilian countryside. They were finally designed a series of artifacts of use and communication artifacts such as microstructures for day and night stop, reporting structures, multimedia application and a website that try to make the tourist experience a moment of discovery and lived. In its complexity the project does not want to be the point of arrival or the solution to the problem of abandonment, but identifies it as an opportunity to undertake a process of reflection on the potential of the existing.

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Andrea Sciarrino. rEvolution

Andrea was born on February ’86 and raised in Palermo.  Awarded a Bachelor degree in Industrial Design, he decided to move to Milan with other fellow students, enrolling at the Master’s degree (Product Design for Innovation) at the Politecnico di Milano. In December 2012 he graduated  with a thesis, which aims to combine two great passions: music and design. With this thesis he has the opportunity to work in an important field where coexist music and design. The most meaningful professional partnership takes place with Noah guitars, a company that helps him during the development of the thesis project, and with which builds the foundation for a new concept of acoustic guitar, with a new material: aluminum. The thesis project is just the first step in a long way project. Today he is dedicating himself to the research and analysis to identifying new ways of understanding and thinking about the  world musical instruments.

rEvolution. Material metamorphosis of a sounding board for acoustic guitar

The project idea born from cooperation with Noahguitars, a company in Milan that realizes electric guitars with aluminum,using a CNC milling machine for the guitar’s body.
The common will is to create a new way to thinking about acoustic guitar. This research thesis has as ultimate goal,to realize a concept resulting from a material metamorphosis, from wood to alluminum.
The design object is an acoustic guitar soundboard. The metamorphosis has been divided in three phases: A,B,C.
“Metamorphosis A” explains the way in which the linings are incorporated in the sounding board.
“Metamorhposis B”consists of the transposition of the concept of grain in wood in a material such as aluminum.
“Metamorphosis C” concerns the structural point of view, and portrayed the bracing role in a hypothetical soundboard made of aluminum.
Revolution is a word game that adds two important concepts: revolution and evolution. The revolution is given by material Metamorphosis to aluminum. The evolution is given by research and from the design behind the three stages of processing of the concept. The way I see it is that only the union of these two spects can give an innovation as a result.

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Carla Piazza. TuneUp

Carla gained her first degree in Industrial Design, at Palermo University in october 2008. She spent an Erasmus semester at A Coruña University, Spain, and she was a video editor intern at the Palermo audiovisual production Studio Forward. In April 2012 she graduated full marks cum laude in Visual and Multimedia Communication, specializing in Interaction Design, at Iuav University of Venice. Two of her projects were semi-finalist in the 2010 and 2011 Adobe Design Achievement Awards for the Mobile Device Category. She was a visual and interaction designer intern at ICON Worldwide, a design and techonology agency in Bühler (Switzerland). She worked as freelancer for the agencies Log607 and Digital Accademia (H-Farm) in Roncade (TV). She now lives in Madrid, where she is engaged in a new work experience at the international firm Fjord.


TuneUp is an application for mobile devices that helps diabetic teenagers with the technical and emotional management of their condition by creating a sound image represents the collected glucose data with an educational purpose. The application collects data about the blood glucose levels and translates them into sound distortions applied to an audio track chosen by the user: the duration of the sound track represents the user’s day; the distortion is applied to the portion of the track  connected to the part of the day in which the testing values are out of the normal range. The collected data can be edited and brought back within the optimal glycemic range through an interaction with the app that aims to increase knowledge about the daily management of diabetes and emphasizes, through sound, the importance of proper self-management.

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Fabrizia Parisi. Cooltour

Fabrizia (Palermo, 1985) is a designer and freelance photographer. After the degree in Industrial Design in Palermo, she specialized in arts and design at the University IUAV of Venice, with a thesis on services design. His work ranges from design, illustration and photography.
In 2011, participates in the architecture Biennale in Venice with a project in collaboration with Fondazione Claudio Buziol and Kist-scious and Kigali Institute of Technology in Hall Rwanda. Also in 2011, exposes some of her personal shots at the space A + A Public Center for Contemporary Art in Venice. Now works at La Claque, a collective founded in 2012 that work about communication, design and lifestyle. At the same time she is working on a photographic project about some institutions volunteer for children of Palermo.


Cooltour is a project of hospitality widespread in the territory, that upgrading three rural villages abandoned in the province of Messina. The project will protect the historic heritage lower, keeping the memory alive, and urging the historical and cultural recovery of these picturesque places, renewing the economy of the inland areas, bringing new tourists who travel to Sicily most degraded through responsible tourism and non-seasonal.
The project configures the experience, through a new kind of tourist accommodations, closer to the products, culture and the environment, the project generates a place in complete harmony and balance with nature. The project offers a way of life and the quality of the rural villages, places to live by reversing the hospitality vertical, the hotel facilities, to horizontal.
The idea is to make the hospitality of a widespread pattern of tourism development compatible and able to exploit the resources of the territory, with particular attention to the promotion of the products and culture, stimulating initiatives and involving local producers generating networks and supply chains between the small farmers, land owners and guests of the service.

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Dorotea Panzarella. Emmo

Dorotea Panzarella was born in Palermo in 1985 and grew up in Cefalù. In 2004 she enrolled at the University of Palermo and in 2008 completed her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design with a visual identity project for the Mandralisca Cultural Foundation. She also partecipate in Erasmus programme, attending the FHNW – Hochshule fuer Gestaltung und Kunst in Aarau (Switzerland). In 2008 she enrolled at the IUAV University of Venice and moved from Palermo to Treviso for attending product design classes. In 2011 she completed her Master’s degree in Product Design with a degree project named “Emmo – An interactive toy for visually impaired children”. Now she still live in Treviso working as freelance and collaborating with other design studios, mainly in the consumer electronics  design field.

Emmo. Interactive toy for visually impaired children

The project has been developed after visiting some rehabilitation centers (in Padova, Trieste and Bolzano) and interviewing families of low vision children. Emmo is especially meant to motivate spatial exploration and helping children to develop the capability of creating mental topological maps. The toy includes lighting and sounding elements for a kind of “treasure hunt” and space-related “memory game” and it’s based on RFID technology. Shape, materials and colours (black and white) has been studied in order to meet low vision children needs. A first prototype has been realized in rapid prototyping; it works thanks to the Arduino UNO microcontroller and other electronics elements (audioshield, RFID readers). Emmo was presented at the Arduino Day 2011 in Rome and an article about Emmo was posted on the Arduino official blog.

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Fabio Nucatolo. Cooking Naturally

Fabio Nucatolo was born in Palermo, and took his Bachelors degree in Industrial Design at Palermo University. In Palermo he did a 3-month internship at yacht designers Acom and freelanced as furniture designer for Mediterranean Engineering. In 2010 he and Simona La Torre won the ComON national design competition, following which they were invited for a month as guest designers of furniture manufacturers Lema (Brianza, between Milan and Como). In 2010 he also started his first year of the Masters in Product Design at the Faculty of Design and Arts, Iuav University of Venice. His projects have been exhibited in Rome, Milan, Verona, and published in the journals Interni, Interni On Board and Ottagono. His thesis master degree investigates the possible development of special purpose devices for kitchen.

Cooking Naturally

Cooking Naturally aims to change people’s use of food resources, reducing waste by creating a direct channel between people and the information cloud surrounding the theme. All, a kitchen device that allows a better exploitation of this information, is both a display appliance and a filter which adapts its behaviour according to the user’s habits.

It is designed for people living in shared accommodation or alone. Due to their living conditions and lifestyles, and to how food is currently distributed and sold, these are the categories most exposed to food waste. Through All, such people can receive advice on grocery shopping and food conservation, preparation and consumption. As it is used, All learns to recognize its users, improving the advice depending on each individual’s behaviour.

All is used in the kitchen during food preparation and consumption. It can recognize the person using it and understand words and gestures. All integrates itself in the habitual dynamics of this environment. Making people concentrate on normal tasks, like preparing a recipe or conserving food, it becomes a tool that improves the experience of responsible cooking, not the focus of the experience.

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Claudia Miliziano. Lexis

Claudia (b. 1986, Palermo) took her first degree in Industrial Design at Palermo University, designing a social network that allows users to access informations which may be of interest in professional field. In 2009 she worked for three months as graphic designer at the Agrigento advertising agency Stand Up and in 2012 she was an interaction and graphic design intern at the Roberto Fazio Studio, Bologna. In April 2013 she gained her second degree in the Master programme in Visual and Multimedia Communication at the Faculty of Design and Arts, Iuav University of Venice. Her specialism is interaction design and her main interests are graphic and product design, art and new technologies.

Lexis. Il mostro

Lexis il mostro is an interactive game for dyslexic children which aims to support the processes of reading, memorizing and association in a kinestethic, ludic and amusing way. It is designed for Sifteo Cubes, a new game platform with mini-screen and proximity sensors.

Inside Lexis are mini-games that allow the testing and development of specific skills. Furthermore, to encourage the dyslexic subject to test with regularity, the game has been designed with a captivating character. The child has to keep a monster through three different areas: feeding, cleaning and fun. The mini-games are included in this contest and only at the end of the game is it possible to unlock some bonus, useful for the character’s needs. Last but not least, this instrument allow teachers and parents to check the progress of the child, thanks to the data saved on the associate site.

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Eleonora Majorana. conDUCImi

Eleonora was born in Catania in 1984. After graduating in International Communication at the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of the University of Catania with an experimental thesis titled “Graphic Design: between art and communication”, she has continued her studies in Barcelona at the University Elisava where she has obtained a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Design, specializing in Graphic Design. The Erasmus scholarship has given to her the chance to study in Paris, and after gratuating she has attended the Master in Branding and Packaging at BAU University (Barcelona).

She did an internship in Javier Mariscal’s design studio in Spain and moved to Mexico City in 2012 where she has joined the design team of the global branding consultancy Interbrand. In Mexico she actually works as freelance Graphic Designer for countries like Spain, Italy and U.S.A. under the name of branDept. – Branding little brands, creating and developing little brands with an international team.

From January 2014 she will start teaching at the Colegio Mexicano de Diseño – COLMED in Mexico City with the courses of Corporate Identity, Branding Methodology and Personal Branding.

During her experiences abroad she loves to do research about the design working process, its multidisciplinary aspect and the chance to know new methods.
When people ask her if she will ever go back to Sicily, she answers with a Sicilian saying “A iaddinedda ca camina tunn’ a casa ca urza china” (The little hen that walks comes back home with a full bag).


conDUCImi® is a fashion and souvenirs brand for (Sicilian) girls and tourists, created by Eleonora Majorana in 2005 and made it known through exhibitions of creatives and artisans.

conDUCImi has been defined as: glamorous, romantic, elegant, pop & folk.
The Sicilian word ‘duci’ literally means sweet. In the island it is almost a way of being. It is perfect to describe a person who is special, sweet, sensitive, delicate and unique. It is ‘duci’ everything that produces tenderness and what the heart likes. The creations of this brand are ‘driven’ by the user. Girl and accessory are united by the awareness of being different from all others.

The brand is represented by a Sicilian handcart. That’s because the brand means ‘take me’, ‘guide me’. In fact this symbol is both a container and a mode of transportation that perfectly conveys an idea of Sicilian folk. Reinterpretation is given by the color of the symbol, sometimes put in old pink, very unusual for a handcart, but adapted to the concept of tenderness and sweetness that characterizes this brand.

The brand will be launched again on Spring 2014 with a recall of the places where its designer has lived: the French elegance of Paris, the Mexican folk, the impact of Spanish visual communication, the perfect work of an American brand, everything based on the world apart of Sicily’s inspiration.

Made in Sicily for pride and for the difference that Sicilians represent.

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Simona La Torre. The daily show

Born in Palermo, Simona is 26 year old. Her training is heterogeneous and transversal her approach to the project. She worked as a product, footwear and fashion designer. She started her training in Palermo where obtained her bachelor degrees in industrial design. Her first approach to the fashion design world is a Polo Ralph Lauren project, about fashion trends and a footwear collection. An initial three-month internship in Italy Lotto sport (where she developed her thesis) extended for a one year full in this company.
In 2010, she and Fabio Nucatolo won the ComON national design competition, following which they were invited for a month as guest designers of furniture manufacturers Lema (Brianza, between Milan and Como). The project, “Comera” table was showed in Como, during the creativity week , November 2010.

In 2010 he also started her first year of the Masters in Product Design at the Faculty of Design and Arts, attending the pattern course, the fashion laboratories , male tailoring and knitting. On july her knitting collection was selected and showed in Giacomelli building during the “fashion at Iuav”.
 To improve her tecnical skills attend the Short Course of Fashion “from shapes to dress, creative pattern for designers”.
She took her masters degree on April 2013 with a thesis and projects of a male and female capsule collection  named “Lo Spettacolo del quotidiano”.

The Daily Show

The focus of this thesis was to develop a collection composed of pieces that also live individually, The design process of the dissertation begins from a personal interpretation of photographic portraits; they act as filter and synthesis of people chosen , each outfit is the sartorial portrait of the person, who inspired the author.
“Lo spettacolo del quotidiano” is a fashion collection of men’ s and women’s clothing designed from photographic portraits taken from the Inta Ruka’s series “My country people”.
The sartorial portraits proposed are independent items of clothing which create a collection through three unifying features: the chosen source of inspiration to draw people’ profiles from, the clothing items’ construction criterion and the textile printing technique.
Experiences and life events lived by each character, described in the book are evoked and imprinted on the surface of the clothes through a process printing.
This precise choice pursues a concept of tailoring understood as the design process slow and ad personam, prints fact are made according to a manual technique, which impresses the fabric as if it were a photographic film, through exposure to sunlight.
Patterns and prints placing talk to each other, to enrich of the sense the result and to shy away from a trivializing relationship between them. Making sure that one is not mere support and the other does not go along with logic purely decorative.

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La Claque

La Claque is a collective of four young design from Sicily – Alessandro Arena, Maura Messina, Fabrizia Parisi e Salvatore Portella – that deals involved in with design, graphics and communication with a focus in offering suggesting contemporary style, making thus promoter promoting a taste of a trend dictated by the analysis of different realities that surround us. Its purpose is to generate a contagious “start at a round of applause contagious” is his intent. Sensitivity and rationality are the basic philosophy of La Claque, not to mention a sense of humor, fun and gratification that follow the design.

“La Claque collides with enthusiasm with the reality of Palermo, a periphery of Europe and the center of the Mediterranean, which therefore possesses at the same time the heart divalent soul divalent heart and the border. Why Palermo is what has been but it is also one that still is not, and then you have to discover, to experiment, to risk” (la Claque, 2013).

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d/storto design project

d/storto is a group of four Sicilian designers: Gaetano Crivello, Vincenzo di Stefano, Daniele Grande e Paolo Zaami. The mission is to become an active subject promoting design through the introduction of innovative processes into local craftsmanships. d/storto works on two parallel project lines: one answers to external requests (e.g. local authorities, cultural organizations, private persons) while the other one is an internal method of research which fosters the emergence and spread of design products starting from local firms.
d/storto is already working locally with the product “Frank”, a folding chair totally made out of cardboard, which has been showed at exhibitions like Vinitaly (client: Tasca d’Almerita) and local events like the “Earth Day” and “Domenica in cantina” (client: Planeta).

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Manuela Bentivegna. Autisme

Manuela was born in Palermo 26 years ago. Once adult she went to Rome where she worked and, at the same time, got her bachelor degree in Industrial Design at La Sapienza University of Rome. This experience improved her capacity to interact with people of different backgrounf, and power of her ideas. Between Rome and Palermo she collaborated as graphic designer for many studios/publishing house/ companies. She worked with inespaoluccidesign for the university and for famous design companies; for a small roman editing house Socrates Edizioni; with Archicom she managed SposiMagazine; for Aikon she designed a capsule collection; with and for il Filo dalla Torre onlus she developed an app for children with autism.


Trough a depth research and sperimentation Manuela studied the way to manage, playing, children with autism and what can be the control/verification/help instruments for them. Thanks to many esperts and psychologists helps, she designed a computer appliance capable to adeguate with any children need: Autisme is a tablet videogame studied and worked out for children with autism and mental retardation from two years of age.

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that occurs within the first 3 years and accompanies the subject for all his life. Recent cognitive theories identify in the distortion of interpersonal relationship the fundamental characteristic of autism, impinging in all areas of children’s relationship.

The game, unique in its genre, consists creating animated stories that reproduce routine, often for children with autism difficult to understand and to play.

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Laura Bagnera. Auxiliary mimesis

Laura Bagnera (1987) was born and raised in Palermo. After high school, she decides to attend a course in Industrial Design in Palermo. At 22 years old she moved to Milan to attend a course for a Master’s degree in industrial design at the Politecnico while cultivating an interest in illustration. In 2012 she finishes her studies with a thesis that analyzes the relationship between the object-aid and the elderly. She did a three month long internship in a snail farm in Greece. Right now she’s trying to carry on personal projects.

Auxiliary mimesis: design for autonomy

A change that today can not fall through the net is the increasing in the average age of the population. This means that the number of people over 65 years of age may be even more numerous. My thesis comes from the desire to meet these new needs by taking a look at which are our daily habits that at a certain age may become difficult. I have thoroughly investigated the relationship between elder and object through a careful analysis of the products: there are objects that scream our disease, so we refuse to use them, we are ashamed, others with whom we can live together peacefully. Through the hand we can make the simplest gestures, making thus independent. Simultaneously with an analysis of the problem related to the hands movement I place my attention on what it means to be elderly today. My intention is therefore to make sure that there is a peaceful coexistence, without too much effort and without shame, with the object.

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Vittorio Venezia. un/coordinated

Vittorio Venezia is a product designer. He graduated in Architecture at the University of Palermo in 2005. He has devoted himself to the design products since 2004, after winning the Bombay Sapphire Martini Collection Award. In 2006, his final university paper won the Lucky Strike Junior Award. In 2007 he moved to Milan and started collaborating with various international designers. Meanwhile he continued his research on design, cultivating an increasingly personal approach. In 2008 he was selected for the Triennial Prime Cup and included in the International exhibition New Italian Design. Through his career Vittorio Venezia has won various major international awards, including: Grand Prixe Emile Hermes 2008; Promosedia 2012; Cristalplant 2013. Some of his works have been exhibited at the Triennale di Milano, the Louvre and the MAXXI. In 2012 he became co-director of the master “Out of the door” from the Abadir Academy in Catania. He lives and works between Milan and Palermo, where he collaborates with many companies, such as Alcantara, Falper, Meritalia.

un/coordinated. Notes, drawings and models for the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Paris

Once upon a time Grand Tour used to bring people all the way throughout Italy to the deep South, Sicily. To this regard those are her words: “Nowadays, I’d like to think that I have done a similar journey but pointing north, all the way to Paris. My aim in fact is to draw and design and sometimes event to craft objects myself. I much prefer the ones that can be used for some purpose and thus I am called a designer.”

During his residence in Paris at the Italian Institute of culture he was asked to design an Italian merchandising family. He started his research trying to define a project with a strong and direct link to Italy, to Italian culture, so that he could be a synthesis of the Bel Paese. “The project here presented is the un-coordinated array of objects inspired by Italy. Rather than finished items I like to describe them as travel notes. I conceived them as un-coordinated as they are born from different methodologies: some are formal quotation, others come from simple sensations, perception of different materials or the manipulation of familiar objects. I like to design working on indirect memories such as the roll while moving on the Lagoon in Venice; the chimneys in a painting by Giorgio De Chirico; the big domes in Turin, Florence and Rome; a moka coffee maker; wood grain; a clothes peg and the list could continue forever. Travel notes. The focus of this project was to steal symbol of the Italian culture re interpret them and transform them into simple object that try to convey a memory, a distant echo of belonging somewhere.”

Some of the objects he designed have been developed with craftsmen and artisans in different Italian cities and with different expressions. The glass, for instance, is made in Vicenza, the toll in Palermo, the sun glasses in Sorrento, marble is from Comiso. Other objects have been rapid prototyped, they create undefined forms, representative of one single idea.

This approach wich he loves define s/coordinated as it attempts to harness and metabolize all the slight differences and sensations of such unique a culture that can only be described as Italian. Assistent of the project, with Vittorio Venezia, was Giorgio Laboratore.

Young Sicilian design

This section presents an overview of the youngest generation of Sicilian designers.
These designers, who share the same origin and the same interest in the world, work all around Italy and Europe, dealing with social, interaction, visual and fashion design.
It’s a generation experiencing a phenomenon occurring for years, that is to say globalization, with the abolishment of frontiers and the shortening of distances: such a condition leads to the exploration of new destinations, to the comparison with other realities in order to enhance one’s cultural knowledge, experiences and insights.
For all those who have left and live elsewhere, the comparison is direct; for those who leave and then come back, the web net allows to keep in touch easily, to work remotely with other people, to be always up-to-date, thus activating a virtuous circle that fosters the creation of a network of intelligences and professionals.
Culture of the project, contemporary languages and sensitivity towards beauty, always of great importance in Sicily: these are some of the qualities that characterise the projects of these young designers. The different working conditions of each of them, not only connected to the geographical context of Sicily, represent a sort of guarantee that keeps them far from any possible expression of regressive regionalism.
Instead, what emerges from their projects is often the wish to release their own home countries.
The young designers represent, along with the artists, the most surprising driving force for the cultural transformation of the territories. A cultural transformation that, without any imposition, can encourage the development of a consciousness, of a mental ecology based on the “being”, to be carried out in order to restore the balance between our individual and collective needs and the natural roof of our planet.
The new generation of young designers, an important human resource, represents the promise of a better future.

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The current art scene in Sicily

Abstract: How would you describe the creative identity of Sicilian art? Flexible, open, independent, free of local and provincial restrictions. Through its artists, Sicily nowadays confirms its role of primary importance in the world of contemporary art, thanks to an altogether new ability compared to the past to promote itself and gain a reputation, to frequently migrate to the centre of the action, to take up new challenges and arouse curiosity and interest. Artistic currents and forms of expression mingle and continuously blend, displaying an inquisitive spirit and designer orientation, often shared as part of a creative teamwork approach. From Palermo to Scicli, many young artists have devised no-profit platforms to exchange feedback, productive cells open to both local and international art, often acting as springboards for fruitful endeavours on the territory and innovative outreaches to the wider audience. So everything is OK, then? No, obviously not. The art system is still quite fragile. The result is a Sicily full of life but yet unable to manifest itself, promote art and grow.

In recent decades, an attempt has often been made to outline a profile of Sicilian art, striving to understand how this borderline territory, these Western outskirts on the margins of the art scene, have responded to trends and isms that were developing elsewhere. The question is which currents and movements have penetrated the island and how and when, which and how many artists have chosen the way of innovation over the continued establishment of solid tradition. The results of this evaluation, as you can imagine, have differed from decade to decade, but up to the end of the 90’s, we have surely witnessed mass migration of artists to the happening venues of “integrated” art, those cities in Italy, Europe and even Northern America, where the art system offered visibility, support, and advertising opportunities. Those who decided to leave have often also opted for a language of research and change, adding a number of stylistic currents to the system that have become the benchmark for scores of generations of artists. To name a few, consider the abstract signs of Forma Uno, with Carla Accardi and Pietro Consagra at the fore-front, the conceptualism of Emilio Isgrò with his essentialism, the environmental sculptures of Schiavocampo, the post-pop of Filippo Panseca with his eco-friendly machines, the dynamic monochromatic art of Pino Pinelli, the spatial art of Turi Simeti with his exterior vocation, the trans-vanguard of Mimmo Germanà, up to the decorative textures on wallpaper of Francesco Simeti, the audio-visual work of Seb Patanè, the video-art and photography of Domenico Mangano, the pictorial installations of Pietro Roccasalva and Francesco Lauretta, or the socio-political reflections with subversive incursions of Adalberto Abbate.

In the past two decades, we have witnessed a substantial change of course: the ultimate landings and an approach bridging to the future have changed. The immediateness of digital technology, in my opinion one of the most functional motivations to the decision to “stay on”, as also a bond with one’s homeland and the sweet savour of this Mediterranean latitude, have been the springboard that has driven certain artists to  return or stay on in Sicily, in spite of everything. Andrea di Marco, a talented painter from Palermo who died six months ago at the age of 42, had returned to his native city after the mafia’s terrorist attack on judge Falcone. In his own words, because “the thought of leaving the most cherished friendships and ties to themselves… and this gnawing sense of guilt” made him feel a part of the tragic political affairs that swept the entire nation. The expression “in spite of it all” continues to be as stereotypical as it is dramatically urgent, in light of the economic-political dynamics of recent years, the system’s idiosyncrasies, with the consequential setbacks for the territory and its cultural programmes.

Staying (Loredana Longo, Canecapovolto, Sebastiano Mortellaro, laboratorio Saccardi), returning (Alessandro Bazan, Francesco De Grandi and Fulvio Di Piazza) and arriving (Stefania Galegati, Aleksandra Mir) are verbs familiar to the latest generations of artists who work on the island; they have configured a new creative, flexible, open, independent identity, free of local and provincial restrictions. The scene appears as a stage walked by a broad number of actors, some of whom lead stars, others deuterogamists, in the sense of a conscientious and intriguing juxtaposition outside set patterns and trends in a land with a strong egocentric drive. Many struggle to break free of fashion trends that are in reality lacking conceptual and aesthetic soul, but many others are willing to reinvent themselves, to venture outside their home to seek dialogue with different and foreign realities, eager for artistic confrontation. Globalisation and localisation are two concepts we stumble upon continuously and, after all, the international landscape includes many artists who frame reality from a perspective tending to embrace broader topics, in Shanghai just as in New York, while not straying from the compass mark of local themes, with a glance on individual and collective memory.

Currents and forms of expression continue to blend, displaying curiosity and a designer mentality. If up to a few years ago, art here winked an eye to individual myths, a collective trend seems now to have the upper hand, one of consciously sharing and participating to collective projects with “team spirit”, one that often aims to share idealism, work, approach and an engagement of reality. “Cowork di Re Federico” in Palermo has embraced the communitarian concept, having for some years now webbed a network of young independent artists who share professional skills, creativity, experience to tackle together the touchy subject of work and the shifting job market. Coworkers are offered state of the art facilities with workstations and a common environment in which to share their work time. This programme has extended to the city at a time of occupation of the Zisa Cultural Construction Sites, “I Cantieri che vogliamo” (The construction sites we want), with round tables and workshops organised to discuss and plan with the community of citizens at large the fate of a symbolic place in local culture. The artistic project proposed by the scientific committee designated by the local Council to open the pavilion inside the Construction Sites, meant to become the new centre of contemporary art of the City of Palermo, is much in line with this teamwork approach. ZAC (Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee) opens to the city as an outdoor space whose “boundaries are constantly shaping” that welcomes all forms of contemporary artistic expression. A group of some 90 young artists and students of the Academy of Fine Arts have been selected and invited to contribute to the great nave of the ex-hangar, with the aim of jointly designing a think-lab, of pooling creative skill to condense inspiration and suggestions, the aim being to design the ZAC project as a team. Of the lab artists, the team Fare Ala, born in 2009 and comprising young artists from Palermo, Spain and France is the one that instantly managed to grasp the concept of the project.  Accustomed to exchanging “feedback on the relation between artistic practice and the social and urban dimension”, Fare Ala has attracted other artists, acting as a melting pot in a particularly new and complex situation. The themes tackled by ZAC have to do with memory, the weaving of past and present, construction site identity, the concept of databasing, topics in a variety of sub-installations, paintings, sound effects and video footage. However, there are also examples of relational/useful art, such as the “fertile zone” of Dessislava Minerva open to collaboration with Gabriella Ciancimino, or “the great theatre” of Andrea Mineo, a stand built with recycled materials from construction sites, transformed into a mutating structure that can adapt to different “settings”, art that opens to the arts. The idea of salvaging the city’s history in terms of artistic heritage thought of as a shared asset is at the base of the “Macerie” (Rubble) project. Now in its second edition, the event was held in the 14th century halls of Palazzo Barlotta di San Giuseppe and in the 18th century Giglio church, historical sites inaccessible to their state of total ruin. The project’s designer is once again the young artist Andrea Mineo, who has succeeded in bringing together a large number of artists who have worked on and with rubbles to create sceneries of sheer visual and emotional effect.

An exceptional observatory on contemporary research is Zelle, a busy and dynamic centre under the direction of artist Federico Lupo. Counting on the contribution of several international young artists, Zelle includes a collection of works on paper called “Sweet Sheets”, in a place where history, fragments of souls, a play on emotions come alive, thanks too to the lightness of the support and to the lingering trails. Palermo also hosts the A Project space designed by artists Giuseppe Buzzotta and Vincenzo Schillaci, a set of stands transformed into exhibition space, but also a residential area, where conceptual building artists create minimalist work, decorating the living space with sombre aplomb.

The no-profit cultural association Erbe Matte, the “artist-run space” Bocs and Parking 095 in Catania are central spots for promoting and organising urban action, site specific events, unconventional exhibitions in the city. On the Saracen coast between Capo d’Orlando and Brolo, the artistic scene is quite thriving and counts on the support of events sponsored by artist Massimo Ricciardo, who designed “Guardiola Contemporanea” (Contemporary Porter’s Lodge), artist residences and workshops, and the exhibition “La rincorsa della lepre” (The hare’s chase) jointly with Tothi Folisi of the Laboratorio Saccardi Group. The events welcomed contributions by Sicilian artists and a broad spectrum of international artists. South-eastern Sicily is preluding to a new horizon in contemporary research. The works of the Barbaragurrieri/group have attempted to analyse the social framework when compared to issues of local microeconomics and the global macro-economy. Clang in Scicli is a space of research, collaboration and innovation established by the artist Sasha Vinci, which will be presenting “Crossing over” in 2013, a series of events that encourage dialogue between different arts.

The Sicilian landscape becomes especially interesting when we touch on photography, in a variety of international spins: documentary, journalist, artistic, inventory snapshots of seemingly useless objects, imaginary landscapes, surreal inventions, an open language that is by now vital in contemporary routine. Young photographers touring the world express their vision in impactful, beautiful images whose theme is Sicily or India, China or Wall Street. The quality and modern vibe of the artistic offer from the latest generations is still lacking a sturdy system, institutionally and privately. But that is another story.

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Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo. Architecture

Abstract: Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo, a Sicilian born in Vittoria, receives the Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement at the Triennale di Milano. A life in the Sicily of the carob, the Western borderline of the Iblea area where boundaries between lands are marked by low, dry stonewalls. She grew professionally in Turin in the 80's, working alongside Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti, Pierpaolo Calzolari and other among the most innovative artists of the international scene.  Recently tributed one of the most prestigious career awards for an architect and hasting to move on to the next designer project.

In September 2012, Triennale di Milano awarded Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo the Gold Medal, a prestigious award that in the same edition went also to Vittorio Gregotti and Gae Aulenti, and in former editions to notable architects Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, Renzo Piano, Paolo Ricatti and Umberto Riva.

The award was instituted in collaboration with the Ministry for Cultural Affairs and MADE expo, and every three years “…wishes to promote and inspire reflections on the newest and most interesting building works in the Country and on the architects that made them possible and, more specifically, on contemporary architecture as a builder of environmental and civil quality”. (1)

The award most recently went to Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo, who had already received other national and international acknowledgments: the RIBA Awards/EU in the commercial section in 2005, an honorary tribue at the European Architectura Award Plaster in 2006, the Vaccarini award in 2009 and again the Riba Awards EU in 2012 for the construction of a home in Noto.

Architectural work, a field of much interest, attains mainstream status in the second half of the 80’s, when MGGC decides to return to Sicily, where she was born and lived before leaving the island to attend university in Rome. She graduates in 1974, after a brief stay in Turin between 1980 and 1986, where she has the privilege to work with key figures of contemporary art, one of her chiefest interests.

Sicily is where she designs and develops most of her architecural projects. The remote geographical location of the island has perhaps delayed (certainly not prevented) her work from receiving wide acclaim, in Italy and abroad.

In an article published in the magazine Casabella in July 1985 and quoted later in the introductory pages of the catalogue of the Architetti in Sicilia exhibition of spring 1986 (Pierre Alain Corset 1986, p. 8) posed the question as to how much a confined island condition was decisive in determining the success of an artist’s architectural production. Pasquale Culotta, the promoter of the exhibition and catalogue, some pages later was of the idea one should speak of ‘contemporary architecture in Sicily’, rather than of ‘Sicilian architecture’ (Culotta 1985, as quoted by Alain Croset in 1986, p. 10), underlining that the work of an architect in such a geographical context does not necessarily produce architecture that is an expression of regressive regionalism, but can give place to projects of top international status.

To which Sicily does Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo belong? In the geography of the Plural Island described by Gesualdo Bufalino (1997, p. 14), we find MGGC in Vittoria, in the Sicily of carob, on the Western frontier of the Iblean land, where territorial boundaries are marked by low, dry stone walls.

In the Sicily of architects, MGGC gains professional experience quite independently of the narrow-minded affairs of the Academy (2) and local orders.

From her hermitage accessible to a selected few and inhabited by cats, birds, dogs and contemporary artworks that migrate to be featured in international collections, MGGC in the limelight of her beautiful Sicilian country home, with tar-step staircases (an old technique in disuse), absorbs the confidence of the objects piled up by the parents and generations that came before her, feeding architectural schools of thought and a system of relations whose natural habitat is the international scene.

The home and studio are one and the same. MGGC attends to her projects, surrounded by a very small nucleus of assistants who seem like altar boys taking part in the same lithurgy (from the Greek leitourgia ‘public presentation’) because architecture, even when the project is for a private client, must nonetheless express an ethical and civil dimension of becoming shape accessible to the community, for the project beneficiaries who are part of a larger society.

In general, MGGC’s architectural work consists of projects to mould small-sized buildings, ‘miniature scale miracles of pride and humility’ (Irace, as quoted by Bono, 2012), and could have been much larger and extensive if she hadn’t turned down several project proposals, which she deemed incompatible with the intransigent rigour that has distinguished her professional career. There is no universal method in developing a project, if by that “we mean an approach that is identical from start to finish” (Russo, 2013). It also would seem impossible to separate the link between critique and project in MGGC’s work or, in other words, the expression of a method that adds more value to her architecture because, as Agamben believes (2009) “….a work of art [and in our case architecture] that does not have some critical value is fated to oblivion” (p. 14).

A project, at least in its first stages, does not grapple with formal aspects, it unfolds from inward to outward, it is not concerned with providing perspective solutions, but rather with ordering the elements of a given architectural problem to provide solid solutions and satisfy the client’s demands, as part of the specific conditions at hand which, as MGGC herself affirms, “…generate reasoning and lead to the identification of strategies for intervention” (as quoted by Russo, 2013).

Mies van der Roher had expressed himself along the same lines on the theme (quote from 2010): “We do not see a particular formal problem, but rather only constructional solutions. Form is not the end goal but rather the natural consequence of our work. Form as goal is formalism: and we reject it”. About Mies’ work (but the same could well apply to MGGC), Carlos Marti Artis has this to say (2002): “…shape is not the immediate objective of the architect’s work […]. The clear constructional expression of his work, the precision of syntactic rules, the clear interpretation of form are for Mies [and for MGGC] nothing more than a series of strategies which are meant to guide us to the expression of perfect beauty ” (p. 42). But it is the beauty that Adolf Loos (1982) attributed to the works of ancient Greece: “… in their work, the Greeks were only bothered with the practical aspect, without in the least thinking of beauty, without raising the issue of catering to an aesthetic constrigent. When their work achieved perfect practicality, they thought of it as being beautiful” (p. 43). This is also true of the architecture of Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo.

There are three factors that MGGC considers essential to her career and that we find in her architectural work.

The first concerns her experience at the University of Rome, where she took part in the 70’s to a course on renovation by Franco Minissi, who equipped her with the tools and gave her the opportunity to develop a special calling for comparative work with former building constructions. The course itself largely dealt with monuments. She now juxtaposes recently built artefacts that require structural changes.

The second has to do with her interest in contemporary art, whose origin is unclear, but that certainly received vital impulse from her stay in Turin from 1980 to 1986, when she was fortunate to make the acquaintance and hang out with Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti, Pierpaolo Calzolari and others among the most pioneering artists on the international scene. In those years, Turin attracted international operators and artists who met at exhibitions, events and private venues. More specifically, we think that the interest for conceptual art offered a useful paradigm in the field of architectural production: a project is first of all a concept, reflection before being a sign that takes on its own specific dimension when the conceptual solution, which is often time-consuming, appears convincing.

The third is her significant experience at Fiat Engineering in Turin. Industrial design followed strict codes that fit into a standardisation process that made it possible to replace the designer at any moment during the project.

MGGC’s architectural design is stripped down, minimalist and focused on the project aim, which is to serve as a tool to deliver information to other subjects who contribute to the work, with no concessions to caligraphy.

In a time of rendering and of the FX of a society geared to display and image, this method of representation gives the sign its original value of means to an end, rather than end in itself or, even worse, of phony graphic design. This was a concern prophetically prefigured by Adolf Loos (1982) who, already in the early 20th century, remarked “architecture has depreciated to graphic art, for which architects are to blame. It is not who knows how to build better that is most commissioned projects, but the architect who most skilfully presents a project on paper [….]. To the ancient masters, instead, the drawing was only a tool to communicate with the builder” (p. 246).

If on one hand the career achievement award is a tribute to her work, on the other it necessarily not coincides with the deposition of the pencil and sheets in the drawer which, instead, continue to happily occupy the tables of Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo, for whom we wish the same destiny of Frank Lloyd Wright, who approaching 90, still replied to the question of a reporter as to which was the most important feat of his career: the next one (as quoted by Costantino, 1991, p. 89).

(1) Excerpt from the website:

(2) There are three Faculties of architecture in Sicily: one at the University of Studies of Palermo, one belonging to the University of Catania and based in Siracusa and one at the Kore University of Enna.


Alain-Croset, P. (1986). Elogio dell’isola. In AA.VV.  Architetti in Sicilia. Catalogo della mostra, Cefalù: Edizioni Medina.

Agamben, G. (2009). Nudità. Rome: Edizioni Nottetempo.

Bono, M. (2012, September 13). La Repubblica.

Bufalino, G. (1997). La luce e il lutto. Palermo: Sellerio.

Costantino, M. (1991). Frank Lloyd Wright, New York: Crescent book.

Loos, A. (1982). Parole nel vuoto. Milan: Adelphi 1985

Martì Artìs, C. (2002). Silenzi eloquenti. Borges, Mies van der Rohe, Ozu, Rothko, Oteiza, Milan: Christian Marinotti Edizioni

Mies van der Rohe, L. (2010). Gli scritti e le parole. Torino: Einaudi

Russo, L. (2013). intervista a Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo. Incontri, 3.

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‘Sicilia’. One, no one and one hundred thousand Sicilies

Abstract: Sicilia is a magazine that still has much to tell and teach, in its absolute visionariness so constantly hovering between being a Sicilian, and even more viscerally a Palermitan magazine and being an international, contemporary, multilingual, experimental and forward- looking magazine. Sicilia, without fear of being accused of unnecessary and exaggerated local pride, deserves a much more in-depth study than has been done so far, through a careful analysis conducted in the different subjects involved in the folds of its pages. Here we will try to deepen its study, analyzing the magazine as a complex graphic artifact, through the lens of visual communication design, the discipline that will help us to investigate its concept, its development, its evolution and above all its constant experimentation.

It is kept on the bookshelves of the Sicilian families, in all the libraries of the districts of the island, on the stalls of flea markets and it is dusty on the shelves of the old and second-hand books retailers. It bears a name that you cannot forget because it is the same name of the island where it was born. It has a format that cannot be ignored because it stands out overwhelming the  near smaller publications. It was born modern and international because even today, thirty years after its publication, it has nothing that anchors it inextricably to its actual age.

It is Sicilia, the magazine that  keeps on living, not only through the action of eager collectors but of all those who having known it, continue to search it, and it’s not going to step aside.  Brave and indomitable, it could deal with new and glossy magazines and even more with that pale and fragile imitation, bearing the same name and features. For years the historical publisher has tried to distribute the last, but it lacks the strength, intelligence and the vital spirit that characterized the original periodical publication.

It’s amazing and inexplicable the theoretical void that accompanies the history of the magazine, and even more in the period following its closure, there are only articles scattered on various texts, but never a careful and organic research.  There aren’t any historical studies and criticism of Sicilia which try  to reconstruct the many different aspects that led to his birth in the womb of the Sicilian Regional Department for Tourism and Entertainment, as a tool that could tell inside but even more outside it, the various cultural fragments that make up the Sicilianess. A Sicilianess which has little of folklore and a lot of anthropology, a concept that must be first searched in the depth of the territories, where the roots of the people are deep, but then stand out from them, on the long and slender branches which look constantly further away.

I think it is important to emphasize the value of the magazine in the visual communication design, because it is an excellent example which  can tell more than others, in such a complete and concise way,  the visual culture of a country. It has ended up influencing inevitably those who, working with various qualifications in the design discipline, were born or grew up there, or were formed there. The issue of the cultural matrix of a territory, understood as a set of visual and material culture, then found in the graphic designers who work in that place or come from that place, is a concern with no easy solution. Not one but many are the factors that converge in the formation of a professional, but even a common hint can be found, to transcribe on a hypothetical map, common paths and points of convergence, capable of establishing between the many actors – even of different periods – the assonances. A genius loci that continues to survive in the territories, in spite of our difficulties to find out and to listen to it as we are overwhelmed by time, crushed and deprived of our permanence. Perhaps, and certainly it makes sense to continue to look for it, while recognizing that not so much the territories and their guide spirits as well as those who live in them, were deeply transformed and with them, their sense of belonging to one culture, one identity, in one single place. Of course the relationship sought is unlikely to be bijective, having to deal with a constant cultural contamination, but that does not mean that we have to disregard its knowledge.

Studying and learning Sicilia means going through – visually and conceptually – a graphic and iconographic heritage that tells, in a detailed and unusual  way, the island, its language, its expressions, its manner, its tone of voice. A heritage that fixes the past and throws itself like a sharp stone towards a future scenario. A valuable legacy worth knowing and sharing, as well as translating and betraying, as only an irreverent child can do.

But, before assessing the merits of an interesting and innovative graphic design  which will be traced as a volume through its main chapters, you first need to try to reconstruct the historical context, the political landscape, the many figures who have desired, designed and developed it.

Sicilia was born in 1953 as the official journal of the Sicilian Regional Department for  Tourism and Entertainment, and next to its name other names stand out in importance, because they granted its birth, growth and success. The first is undoubtedly Pino Orlandi, its director, even if it is simplistic to force him only in this definition. Orlandi is a man from the north, who landed on the coasts of Sicily at the end of the Second World War and never went away, who worked without interruption for a big, bright and ambitious cultural project. He was the only who made the editing, established the topics, directed the graphical structure, recruited photographers, illustrators, painters and engravers to collaborate in the design of the magazine, called historians, anthropologists, poets, writers, philosophers from different countries, asking them to write texts for the mostly monographic numbers of Sicilia.

The second is Salvatore Fausto Flaccovio, then just S.F. Flaccovio, as we are accustomed to see it written down, surmounted by a lithe gazelle in the logo of his publishing house, reproduced in the characteristic green flag color. Flaccovio was an intelligent and ambitious young man who changed in a short time his bookshop, located in the central Via Ruggero Settimo, in a prestigious cultural salon, a meeting place for the intellectuals of the time who lived or stayed in Palermo.

The third is that of Bruno Caruso, the famous Sicilian painter, who had the important task of structuring  the graphic design, giving to the magazine that imprinting that it will keep until the end, in a crescendo and an ability of continuous self-renewal that cannot be solely attributed to the artist, but it should be fairly distributed among those people who directed, paged and produced it.

Sicilia was a four-monthly magazine, distributed in Italy but addressed mainly to a foreign audience as emphasized in his speech, at the opening of the publishing business, Pietro Romani, honorable and representative of the High Commissioner for Tourism.

A magazine that represents not only the most beautiful aspects of the island and its culture, but also the truest, most unusual and most cultured aspects, collected in a photograph that can be merciless, able to capture the beauty even in the plots of abandonment and destruction, never yielding to pity or victimization, but proud and bold, as it emerges from a story told through the articles of both Sicilian authors and important exponents of national and international culture. But also illustrated with photographs, engravings, paintings, illustrations, chosen with great care from the historical and photographic archives of the island or made on purpose for the magazine.

But let’s get into the structure of Sicilia. This is based on a criterion of variability, which inserts itself into a system of invariants, it goes without saying that soon it became his stylistic signature. The journal keeps some constant elements, few indeed, and are those regarding: the size, rectangular top that always measures 24 x 32 cm; the font used for the layout of all the texts, a robust Bodoni that binds strongly with the printing on the paper; the layout of pagination of the articles in one, two, three or four columns; the material used, a coated paper or uncoated, white or colored, for specific sections of the magazine as the abstract. Another feature, not concerning the graphical structure, but concerning the concept of the publication and its being an international product, is the decision to publish the articles in their original language, without any full translation, only a summary of all the articles is translated into English, French, German and Spanish.

With regard to the variable elements, these are in a random order: the cover can be graphical, illustrated, photographic, different each time; the logotype of Sicilia that changes in size, in position, in the graphic processing on every cover, also working only for the subject of the monographic treaty; the back cover, completely white, that houses a fragment, a detail, an element related to the front cover; the summary also designed each time as a new element related only to the monographic theme, of which becomes a further interpretation; the head of each article, which is never processed in a rigid way, how could require the compliance with the layout, but more like a logotype, a sort of translation and graphical summary of the topic. The authors of the many graphic designs, but also of the unending experimentations, were at the time two young graphic artists, Santuzza Calì and Gabriella Saladino. They worked by establishing  and keeping over the years, an artistic collaboration with the director Pino Orlandi thanks to their ability to communicate and to have a good understanding with him.

Sicilia, with the number 89, was the last issue of the magazine, published in May 1982.

Sicilia: rivista trimestrale dell’Assessorato turismo e spettacolo della Regione siciliana, dal n. 1 (edito il 31 marzo 1953) al n. 89 (edito il 31 maggio 1982), Flaccovio, Palermo, 1953-1982

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Design and Entrepreneurship: Palermo in the Liberty age

Abstract: We are in Palermo, 1899, two relevant characters, such as Ernesto Basile and Vittorio Ducrot, at first glance belonging to distant working fields, meet and clash each other, creating the first partnership between a designer and an entrepreneur in Italy. Instead of the past stylish models, we have now the inspiration from Nature: the vegetable organic strength becomes the model for the development of the ornamental line.

Over the years, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Palermo lives an extraordinary period of cultural and economic development. Some families, such as the Florio and the Withaker are involved in entrepreneurial activities, but the city gives hospitality to other people belonging to the new cultural and economic tendency, like artists and scholars. Many artisans, decorators, craftsmen, mosaic workers, and master glaziers are hired to include their works inside the buildings following a new taste which soon will be adopted by architecture: the Liberty style (Art Noveau). Both the interior decoration elements and the furniture were demanded not only by the local aristocracy and the bourgeoisie of that time, but also by hotels and public buildings. With all that, we can even assert that the economic liveliness of Palermo at that time, is not only due to the presence of entrepreneurial personalities, but it is the result of an artistic incentive that supports the highest quality production of art objects.

Considering the increase and the differentiation of the client’s demand, together with the desire and the pleasure for the objects belonging to this new artistic Liberty tendency, we can confirm, between the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the proliferation of new artist/artisans workshops, that tend to a different production. Instead of being linked to the aristocratic and high-bourgeoisie elite demand, they are now ready to open out to the serial manufacturing production, which they were opposed to. For this reason the little laboratories need to create new bigger workshops to increase their productivity but, above all, to let some of the most important artistic and intellectual personalities of the time to work together. Over the years, this peculiar collaboration turns the artist into designer and the artisan, workshop foreman, into an entrepreneur.

The firm C. Golia & C. Studio – Ducrot in Palermo, is one of the first artist/artisan workshops to become a real business. It shares the new modern language for the furniture production, taking advantage of the collaboration of the famous architect Ernesto Basile but also of other well known artists of that period. The collaboration relationship we are about to discuss now is the one between Ernesto Basile, architect, and Vittorio Ducrot, heir of the above quoted C. Golia & C. Studio. This relationship is definitely established when Vittorio Ducrot becomes the only owner of the C. Golia & C. Studio. Through different steps of growth, Ducrot turns a little artisan workshop into a modern furnishing factory. The result of this relationship is also due to the strong personality of the two main characters and their experiences. In 1899, the firm C. Golia & C. Studio furnished the ‘Grand Hotel Villa Igea’ in Palermo, with Ernesto Basile, establishing a long-term collaboration with him. As said in a letter written by Basile himself in 1898, they had previously worked together on the fortuitous occasion of furnishing the house of the countess Francavilla.

This collaboration represents a new experience, according to whom both the design of furnishing and furniture and the production of decorative objects are strictly connected with the technological and stylish innovation, as well as the trade expansion.

Therefore the furnishing of the ‘Grand Hotel Villa Igiea’ can be considered as a ‘test bench’ for the couple Basile-Ducrot. You can notice a stylish innovation in the main areas of the hotel, designed by E. Basile, such as the hall or the dining room, where the furnishing stands out above a uniform view of the space; with regard to this, the frescoes by E. De Maria Bergler contribute to the unity of the space.

Villa Igiea is the most representative example of what could be defined ‘Grand Hotel’ at that time; many meetings and high-society parties, involving an oligarchic entourage of regular clients, took place there.

The quest for a stylistic integrity, in order to create the ‘total work of art’, making the domestic areas and the elements which compose the rooms as a whole, distinguishes the interior design of ‘Villino Florio’ by E. Basile. In regard to this, Basile has the opportunity to test the executive resources of the firm Ducrot: the factory, following the modern trends in the furnishing field, reveals a renewed way of producing in every field of practical arts. (Sessa,1981, p. 13)

Commissioned by Ignazio and Franca Florio in 1899, built and completed with internal and external decorative elements between 1900 and 1902, the building has a structure separated in different perspective levels. The inside is composed of individual rooms which seem to be connected each other. This particular arrangement reveals Basile’s intention to reach ‘unity’.

The furniture is similar to the models that Basile and Ducrot presented at the Turin Decorative Modern Art Exhibition in 1902 and the Venice International Art Exhibition in 1903.

According to Basile’s quest of a ‘new architecture system’, the organization of the spaces in ‘Villino Florio’, with its inclination for the variety giving a guarantee for the homogeneity, represents the first step towards a modern maturity. The building, in spite of the various arrangements of its four floors, doesn’t dissemble the logic of its geometrical structure, organized with a clear dimensional ratio, denying Raffaele Savarese’s opinion about the affinity of Basile’s art with an undefined late-Romantic trend, as he writes in his long essay ‘Arte Nuova Italiana’ about Villino Florio and Basile’s  programmatic objectives. (Sessa, 2002, p. 181)

As well as the Mirror Hall in Villa Igiea, Villino Florio represents a unique for its internal and external aesthetic shape which can’t be repeated or re-edited; for this reason it will be the starting point for all Basile’s future works.

With the presence in the Turin Exhibition in 1902, together with Vittorio Ducrot, also thanks to the industrial progress of the factory, you can notice a particular maturity in the furnishing culture.

In the following years, although there is a close relationship between Basile and Ducrot, the latter takes the liberty to make different choices from Basile’s ideas. Actually the fortune of the couple is due to Ducrot’s determination in regard to the selection of the best materials and the following well-advanced construction technique that allow the innovation and the expansion of the firm in the trade of Palermo.

As previously mentioned, Basile also looked after the graphic style of the firm and the arrangement of the exhibition/sale areas.

In 1903, at the Fifth International Art Exposition in Venice, he sets up the section ‘Napoli and Sicilia’ where exhibits the furniture designed and realized by himself with the collaboration of Ducrot. You can notice the transformation of the decorative elements, since there isn’t any similarity with the famous 1902 oaken working room; but the presence of naturalistic elements and the decorative exuberance derived from the nature, create a dynamic ‘organic unity’ which promotes the birth of the New Italian Art. (Sessa, 2002, p. 247)

Vittorio Ducrot, who is not a qualified technician, unable to design and realize what he actually produces, takes advantage of the participation and also the collaboration at the 1902 and 1903 Exhibitions. Thanks to these two events he gets hundreds of orders from all over Italy especially referring to the pieces exposed in Turin and Venice, which bring to quadruplicate the profit of the company.

Between 1905 and 1907 Basile formulates a new aesthetic combination, which is carried out with the design of the main façade of the International Exhibition building in Venice and the enlargement of the Cassa di Risparmio offices in Palermo. In the first building Basile displays the furniture designed by him, while in the second one, he deals with the architecture but also the interior furnishing, together with Ducrot. The work carried out in the Ducrot workshops, was integrated with parts produced by other Italian companies, such as Opificio San Leucio for fabrics, majolicas by the firm ‘Figulina Artistica Meridionale’ in Neaples, wrought-iron by Angiolo Grasso workshop in Neaples, in order to provide an appropriate framework for the paintings and the sculptures by G. Enea and E. De Maria Bergler.

The construction of ‘Casa Basile’ also known as ‘Villa Ida’, inspired by the name of the artist’s wife, is contemporary too. It was entirely designed by him and furnished by Ducrot’s firm.

Situated at the corner of via Siracusa and via Villafranca in Palermo, Villino Basile still reveals the principles of an homogeneity of style as well as of design also regards to the furniture which follows a concept of modern comfort, without replacing the main peculiarity of the Mediterranean way of life and the typical Sicilian use of the colors.

Inside Casa Basile you can notice a sense of sacredness in the disposition of the rooms as well as the furniture; this can be deduced by the position of the dining room in the most reserved part of the house. The furniture by Ducrot in this room is from the same series of the one exposed in Milan in 1906, with carvings of octopuses and crustaceans. The house also hosted the ‘working core’ of Basile, that is to say, his laboratories and the professional archives. All these room were furnished with drawing tables and high bookcases; the furniture belonged to the ‘Tipo Torino’ series.

Therefore the house suits to its own logic of functional division, with the basement reserved for the restrooms, in correspondence to the heart of the professional laboratory and the archives, and even the reception rooms overlooking the façade in via Siracusa; on the contrary the inner core with its courtyard hosts the dining room with relative vestibules and stairs leading to the second floor with its bedrooms.

In 1906-1907, there is another change concerning the furniture design and production for the Ducrot Company since Basile is called to realize the new Assembly Hall of the Parliament and to enlarge ‘Palazzo Montecitorio’ in Rome. The firm is selected as furniture manufacturer for Palazzo Montecitorio by the Italian Parliament Artistic Commission; they use a prestigious style appropriate to such an ‘important responsibility’.

In the same years, the Ducrot firm is awarded by the Agriculture Industry Commerce Ministry for the furniture of ‘Caffè Faraglia’ in Rome; this particular kind of furniture represents another new style created by the company, which is, for this reason, called Faraglia.

Using such a modern style, reconsidered in a ‘prestigious way’, in range of ‘institutional demands’ is for sure a significant success of the Basile-Ducrot couple.

As for the architecture and the furniture, Palazzo Montecitorio is the most representative example of the collaboration between Basile and Ducrot; it has a magnificent covering on the external front, with architraved windows; the interior with wood covering which underlines the geometrical tendency, and even the insertion of classical elements, such as the columns of the Assembly Hall, which, for their chromatic similarity, resemble the ones of the secondary galleries and the other meeting rooms of the building.

On 9 March 1907, the Ducrot company is officially registered in the Stock Exchange of Milano with the name of ‘Ducrot Mobili e Arti Decorative, Società Anonima per Azioni’. Among the first shareholders there were some old partners, like Antonio Ugo and Ettore de Maria Bergler.

Two years later, the couple Ducrot- Basile takes part to the 7th  Biennale di Venezia with the furniture of the hall ‘Bellezze Siciliane’. The classical style of Montecitorio can be observed in the refined carvings, the plating, the brass application, the lacquering and the painting ‘Vernis Marin’. Basile designs massive furniture where are inserted in a modern way: ornaments, volutes, mouldings, friezes and other details.

The aspect of this furniture could lead one to think about a return to the previous stylish concepts, but this misunderstanding comes out because of the Ducrot company designers, who receive in their own way the suggestions of Basile about the design intended as a severe superimposition of levels and volumes. That represents the decline of the Ducrot company and the end of the collaboration with Basile.

The couple breaks up since in the following years, the Ducrot workshops are about to become a large productive apparatus, which needs different plans of action and strategies, in relation to the new decadence of the city and the islander’s migratory flow, when the World War I was about to explode.

Between 1915 and 1918, Ducrot makes a renovation of his workshops, enhancing the wood warehouses, adding some structures, but confirming the productive organization so converting the factory located in via P. Gili into a seat of war airplanes production.

This ‘industrial adaptation’ phenomenon, accomplished by Ducrot, was possible thanks to its high technological possibilities and the advanced flexibility of organization.

When in the 1920s the demand for seaplanes run out, there was lust for the old furnishing production, but a lot of difficulties came out because of the leaving of the old partners and the change of the clients.

We can consider the end of the collaboration and its success as a result of the continuous movement of renovation regards to the habits and taste of the Western culture.

The couple Basile-Ducrot, in the years 1899-1909, establishes a new modern quality standard for furnishing and the all the works of art, together with the birth of specific applications in the early cycles of industrial production.

Sessa, E. (1981). Mobili e arredi di Ernesto Basile nella produzione Ducrot. Palermo, IT: Novecento.
Sessa, E. (1989). Ducrot: mobili e arti decorative. Palermo, IT: Novecento.
Sessa,E. (2002). Ernesto Basile: dall’eclettismo classicista al modernismo. Palermo, IT: Novecento.

Editorial #10: From Sicily notes about a changing reality

Number 10 of PAD is a special number. It is devoted to Sicily and, to those who, like us, come from this region of the Mediterranean or have spent there a part of their life; this number represents a moment of retrospective consideration, in the will of opening a “conversation” with the current situation, for a connection between seek of comprehension and real change of the practices.

After 10 numbers, PAD restarts from its origins. Born in Palermo in 2005, thanks to a group of researchers who have been working perpetually for the development of the design culture in Sicily, PAD has achieved an international reputation. It has left its original place in order to enter the web region, popular place that is being colonised by the Southern countries of the world, because of the possibilities of emancipation offered by the net. And nowadays PAD is immersed in a net of contacts that feed its Pages on Arts and Design.

After this premise, let’s go back to the question of this number. What is new in Sicily?

Back to the original places for a recognition of what is the current Sicilian scene of design and art, we cannot but highlight the fact that design, that until a few years ago was exclusively connected to the formation of the young at the Faculty of Architecture of Palermo, is now taking a full-bodied structure with branches in the whole region and several articulations. Industrial design courses are widespread in the Academies, with Palermo and Catania as driving forces, so are workshops, events, professional occasions, enterprises of new typology, whereas ADI Sicily, regional delegation of the Italian Association for the industrial Design, has become the reference point for the actions of design for the producing companies and the young professionals (as you will read in the interview of Alessandra Fazio to Vincenzo Castellana, President ADI Sicily).

There is also a flourishing of social enterprises (as written by Agnese Giglia) connected to creative activities linked to the territory resources, of art centres such as Farm Cultural Park of Favara (visible in Reportage) and Fiumara d’Arte in Tusa and of laboratories of ideas that help provide new ideas to the genius loci of whom Sicily is rich.

And then there is a young generation of artists and designers, born in the South but trained all around the world, that has left their home country in order to be fulfilled. They have learnt to travel, to be contaminated, they have achieved the right thinking necessary to be able to protest, to carry out a “cultural resistance”, thus spreading know-how and a new forma mentis. Willing to give a contribution to the future of their home community on location or at distance, this generation represents a new chance for a Sicily that is widespread, connected and global.
Also through their projects (as you will see in Young Sicilian design), Sicily becomes a place to be traversed and visited: destination for the cultural and enogastronomic tourism or for Pizzo-free tourism, with unique products that come in contact with their own environment, thus seeping authenticity. Moreover, one shouldn’t forget that there is also an image of Sicily that is conveyed by a product that has become global: the series Montalbano that Rai exports with the result that spectators have multiplied their visits to Sicily year after year.

In this overview that this number proposes, by presenting some case history of Sicilian design in order to reach modernity, we wish to prevent from exalting a reality that is still too complicated and contradictory. We will put our expectations into the hands of the young and of the strategic dimension of design within the Sicilian territory.
Design is a generative and epidemic activity.
The cultural tools of design and arts can give a substantial contribution to the creation of an “economy of culture”, the only economy that disposes of endless resources and potential, that can carry out projects for a sustainable and virtuous future.
Cover Photo by Sasha Vinci artist born in Modica in 1980. Today living and working in Scicli.

“Sicily…is the land where I came back voluntarily some years ago, the place where my instinct tells me to stay and work. Sicily is the centre, and it is like this that we have to imagine it. It is necessary to join forces against any kind of power obstructing the cultural evolution of this incredible territory. A real change can be triggered by the independent realities of art”. (S. V.)