Category Archives: italiano


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Product-Service Design for Immigrants


The paper analyzes the social landscapes that arise from the spontaneous configuration of groups that mingle with each other following the instinct of survival and a state of emergency, which configure no longer linear country borders but fluid ones.
In this context a form of widend multicultural social typology emerges, where the human dignity is founded on acts of solidarity that lead to radical changes.

The paper presents Product-Service Design for Immigrants case a product-services for immigrant populations that ensure the efficiency and widespread access to the healthcare system.
Through innovative strategies that have been able to peruse a new welfare concept based on the user’s active role in order to develop an integrated assistance in which the immigrant citizen becomes part of a healthcare course.
The project, for its development, requires the support of a new generation of services, products and communicative artifacts that play an important role in the Health Care System: prevention, monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
In the healthcare field the use of ICT can be a useful tool to improve accessibility, to share data and information, for the implementation of health services already existing online, and to upgrade the performance of the whole system hence obtaining better results with less resources.
The project has set up a civic space like a platform to enable a dialogue between migrants and local health facilities establishing a digital context to receive, analyze and offer alternative models for assistance.

1. Multicultural breach

New social landscapes arise by spontaneous configuration of groups that mingle in areas easily accessible and affordable, functional nodes on the routes of illegal migration.

These “fall back lands” used to shelter and to organize their lives for emergency purposes, regulated by international agreements, lack in basilar human necessities. The social landscapes that emerge are the mirror of contemporary life: environmental disasters, poverty and war are the leading causes, from which a new way of life is developed, therefore a new social organization.
The “invisible multitudes” recover waste from western society, they draw from it resources to face issues, mitigate the disadvantages and adapt to change.
The new geography comes up with a new Europe seen as a continent with undefined borders, a single, huge city that embraces all the differences, allocated in mingled area.
The geographical mingled space of “Europe City” works today as a device that filters and organizes the movement and passages of migrant populations. This image of the continent that expands embracing new directions leads us to a mediterranized Europe; according to the idea of multicultural landscape as a mind place, by the plural character, such as the descriptions of Fernand Braudel (1998) of the Mediterranean.
In fact, the space of the “Europe Mediterranean City” is willing to embrace human landscapes and traditions, shaped by its various protagonists. The enlargement of the space spreads in peripheral and marginal zones, far and disconnected, revealing the ability to self-organization by spontaneous social groups. It concerns relational rules re-created and re-adapted by people within cultural social differences.
A new business model is outlined, based on the development of human skills, overcoming the capitalist model based on the values of each individual.
According to André Gorz (2004) society must focuses on the individual development, “one of the priorities will be to identify people and groups conveyed values and knowledge necessary for companies and institutions transformation” (p. 21).
The comparison is made between knowledge, value and capital, elements that guide us to understand the huge development of the knowledge economy along time; “knowledge is a practical skill, a know-how that does not necessarily involves delineate knowledge […], nor even the practical knowledge isn’t easily codified and cannot be learnt if not by practice and apprenticeship” (p. 22). This process involves the emancipation of human capital by the capital, according to A. Gorz (2004), an example is represented by the “craftsmen of free software and networks”(p. 22), that as holders of knowledge of high-level technical support, in opposition to the privatization of the access tools to a shared knowledge.
These tools are essential for the individual development in the human evolution from the “workforce” in “independent force” (p. 22): the software allows to generate contents accessible to all that have in usage unique value, bypassing the exchange value.

2. Sharing in emergency case

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) observed that in 2013 there was the most massive migrants movement across the Mediterranean: thirty-two thousand people landed in Italy, coming from Syria and North Africa require better migration managing through the prevention, protection and solidarity coordinated actions.
In this social context design strategies can realize integration between sustainable practices and innovative technologies and methods.
The strategic and services design are the disciplinary traces through which develop collaborative systems and experiment cooperative models, envisioning the managing social innovation demand (Cipolla, 2009).
Thanks new community forms, the individuals involved in process became actors. They identify flexible solutions, personalized and appropriate to their capabilities, testing the results and developing a new form of welfare (Cipolla & Manzini, 2009).
The promotion of a welcoming society, characterized by intercultural dialogue, social mediation and by the right to health, is the precondition of the research project Product-Service Design for Immigrants (PSDFI).
The design approach proposes to experiment new creative processes able to highlight the social issues, identifying opportunities and formulating possible solutions.
The development of solidarity and participation forms is a necessary condition to implement the design thinking methodological approach in new models (Brown, 2009).
According to recommendations of European legislation, in particular, the principles of the European Handbook on Integration (Niessen & Schibel, 2007), PSDFI intends to promote an easy access to welfare facilities for migrant communities and minorities thanks to a product-service system.
The PSDFI project aims to provide health care for immigrants with the creation of a services system that managed, in a platform, the information on the health condition, monitoring assistance forms and remote healthcare.
The main action is to create a multitasking network that is enable to capture and process data, to examine medical records pursuing a connection between public health operators, local actors, NGOs and immigrant populations.
In 2009, the project Mighealtnet, information network on good practice in health care for migrants and minorities in Europe, spread in 16 countries, has pursued a similar goal: to provide a services system for health care of the multicultural European population. Another project about the theme is: Healthy and Wealthy Together, promote by Municipality of Milano, that establish a thematic exchange network of public and private local actors working with or for migrants on the health and poverty issues.
The PSDFI project provides an intangible service for healthcare, associated to a wearable product, organizing the individual’s health information with the managing of clinical data; using RFID it is able to send data directly to the database. The wearable product is connected to the service platform, will be distribute to local reception centers for immigrants.
The site, that offers healthcare expertise, is a place to share and receive the requests and experiences spreading in user’s forum. The medical staff can access clinical data and update them as well as patients can check their portfolio and interact with an online expert 24 h/day.
The project promotes and facilitates the encounter between immigrant populations and families residing in the countries of origin through the online service (an interactive web site) that will provide information on health condition, and will allow to better understand which are the available organizations and resources. Information accessibility is guaranteed by actions of communication and awareness rising, provided in different languages (the partner countries and the countries from where migration to Italy originates).
The challenge is to demonstrate that using product-service design it is possible to ensure the efficiency of the Health System, a more widespread access to it, and to minimize public health costs.

The paper was written by the authors on the basis of mutual agreement and extensive discussions. Are related to the two authors jointly sections:

1. Multicultural breach, this paragraph was written by Maria Antonietta Sbordone.

2. Sharing in emergency case, this paragraph was written by Rosanna Veneziano.


Braudel, F. (1998). Les mémoires de la Méditerranée. Paris: Editions de Fallois.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Cipolla, C., & Manzini E. (2009). Relational services. Knowledge. Technology & Policy. (pp. 22, 45-50).
Cipolla, C. (2009). Relational services: service design fostering sustainability and new welfare models. In Silva, J., Moura, M., & dos Santos A. (orgs.) Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Sustainable Design (II ISSD) Brazil Network on Sustainable Design – RBDS, São Paulo, Brazil. Disponibile presso
Gorz, A. (2004). Métamorphoses du travail. Critique de la raison économique. Paris: Editions de Fallois.
Niessen, J., & Schibel, Y. (2007). Manuale sull’integrazione per i responsabili delle politiche di integrazione e gli operatori del settore, Commissione europea (direzione generale della Giustizia, della libertà e della sicurezza). Pubblications Europa. Disponibile presso

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Design and new trends in temporary living for emergencies and nomadism


There is a long tradition of research, projects and experiments regarding the issue of temporary living. It is a very fertile field of reflection because it represents the intersection of practical needs with the aspiration, sometimes utopian, toward an extreme simplicity in living and an innate desire for freedom and exploration. Here, we will draw a quick historical overview exemplified by four design stories that are indicative of certain strategic and typological research lines, and then, we will present an updated overview of trends in contemporary design and production.

1. The Mediterranean area and forms of precariousness: the temporary dwelling

The Mediterranean area is a fragile and geologically unstable region due to its environmental, social and political ecosystems. It is a fluid territory in which the mobility of its people and cultures has become a part of its identity over the course of time; factors such as transience, mobility, insecurity, migration and nomadism are always present there, despite their opposition to the prevalent cultural model of permanence and long-lasting habitation. It is a vulnerable area in which the progressive inattention to environmental protection and proper management of the landscape has amplified the effects of natural disasters, and more and more, has transformed events during disasters.

In addition to these factors, we also should consider social problems related to fluctuations in the economy and politics that fuel migration and poverty.

In this context, an emergency can refer to many things: the need to respond quickly to sudden and unexpected cataclysms; the constant presence of social situations that are sometimes chronic and now increasing in size and number; and the hospitality management of large concentrations of people in a specific time and place (as in the case of major events).

The theme of the emergency is connected to the dwelling by a dialectic comparison of the sense of the precarious with the desire for stability, the insecurity of the situation with the security related to the concept of home, the relationship between the permanent and the temporary and between the fixed and the mobile.

This is an important topic in design culture, which is based on experimentation in military field and has expanded throughout the twentieth century through the research and solutions of distinguished interpreters: Le Corbusier’s early studies in Maison Voisin (1920) and in the Logis Provisoires Transitoires during the post-war period (1944), the Dymaxion Deployment Unit by Buckminster Fuller (1940), the Emergency Mobile Housing by P. Jeanneret and J. Prouvé (1945) and the Mobile Housing Unit by M. Zanuso and R. Sapper and the Mobile House by A. Rosselli and I. Hosoe, which are presented in the exhibition, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at MOMA, New York (Ambasz, 1972; Mango & Guida, 1988; Firrone, 2007).

Alongside many proposals that have been stimulated by real and often urgent needs, an ideological strand has led to the development of new models of mobile dwelling that culminated in the eradication of the static concept of the city form in the futurist Walking City by Archigram in 1964; it is a design aspiration that is aimed at lightness and fluidity in living, which has produced many visions and proposals (Ambasz, 1972; Schwartz-Clauss, 2002), that have anticipated the current changes in social life and are only now being viewed with interest by the world of production.

2. Case studies: a comparison of four experiences 

We will now return to real life situations, though not solely emergencies. They have stimulated many research studies and projects regarding the topic of temporary or mobile dwellings, which we will now discuss. Each of these design stories can be taken as emblematic of the different types of construction (prefabricated modules, tents, containers, modular systems, etc.) or sustainability approaches in the social and natural environment.

Paris, 1954. An exceptionally harsh winter drove the Abbe Pierre to promote a fundraiser for the construction of emergency housing for the homeless. The project was then entrusted to Jean Prouvé, who designed the Maison des Jours Meilleurs (Better Days House). An expert in precast construction, Prouvè tackled the problem from a technical and logistical point of view, but also devoted great care to the qualitative configuration of the inhabitable space, arousing comment from Le Corbusier, who called it “the perfect object to live, the most brilliant thing ever built”(1956). The house, which could be assembled in seven hours by a few men with simple equipment, was 57 square meters and included two bedrooms and a large living room in addition to the core technical and structural steel for the toilet facilities and for the kitchen. From the constructive point of view, it was constituted of a steel frame on a concrete base, with wooden sandwich prefabricated panels that include openings and fixtures as well as cover panels in wood and aluminium sheet that jutted out to form the entrance porch.

This system’s components, which are easily storable, transportable and mountable, combined certain basic requirements – lightweight, low cost, durability of materials and comfort – but, it was too innovative for its time and it did not result in the mass production that was anticipated. It represented, however, a model and a reference point for subsequent experiments in the field of lightweight precast. Recently, an original version of the Maison des Jours Meilleurs was restored and was exhibited in the Paris gallery of Patrick Seguin in 2012 and during the Design Miami Basel in 2013.[1]

Valley of Muna (Mecca), 1975. Every year, during the pilgrimage to Mecca, it is necessary to erect temporary shelters in a wide area covering approximately 25 kilometres for an extremely large concentration of pilgrims who arrive from all over the world (about 2-3 million). Since 1975, the architect Frei Otto, together with the Research Centre of the University of King Abdul Aziz in Jeddah, has been engaged in numerous studies aimed not only at streamlining the logic of the settlement by integrating it with facilities and equipment for collective services, but also aimed at providing temporary housing made of lightweight structures that can be assembled and disassembled quickly. In particular, Frei Otto has designed an innovative solution consisting of a multi-story tent that can be installed with ease and less environmental impact on the hillsides of the valley and that provides internal conditions with enhanced habitability and ventilation. The tents, which have a square base with sides measuring 4 meters, can have up to three levels. The structure is self-supporting, with a frame made of aluminium profiles and wooden panels for the planking level; the casing is based on the traditional spire roof, which is made of a single sheet of fabric, while other fabrics enclose the perimeter, so that the overlapping flaps ensure protection from the sun, but also provide ventilation and a view. The ground anchor consists of holes drilled straight into the rock, where the structure of the tent is secured with simple joints once it is calibrated at a horizontal level (Guida, 1992). It is a simple system, which rationalises the use of space and has minimal environmental impact.

Irpinia earthquake, 1980. In the long list of earthquakes that have taken place in Italy, from the event in Messina in 1908 to the quake in the Emilia Romagna region in 2012, the Irpinia earthquake is particularly significant. This is not only the result of the vastness of the area affected and the high number of displaced persons, but also the effect it has generated in terms of planning and subsequent research; this is in contrast to the formerly inadequate response of the Civil Defence and the resulting lengthy periods of reconstruction, which have led to extended stays, sometimes for years, in housing units – mostly containers – that were supposed to be temporary.

In particular, it is worth noting that the research carried out by the Course of Design in the Faculty of Architecture in Naples (prof. R. Mango and E. Guida), which was conducted from 1981 to 1987, through an agreement with the Commissioner Extraordinary Government for Reconstruction, has resulted in the implementation of a prototype of a housing module (Cecere, Guida & Mango, 1984; Mango & Guida, 1988; Guida, 1992).[2]

The innovative approach of the solution, which started with an observation of the critical issues in the management of the Irpinia emergency, was mainly due to its establishment as a system, rather than as individual units; in other words, it is made up of a set of technical modular elements that are configured as a continuous cover under which it is possible to situate multiple units. This approach allows the storage of the components in a much contracted form, easier transportation and a greater adaptability to each individual context and to the different compositions of households during the assembly phase. In addition, it allows flexibility in time and the possibility that they can be regenerated for future use. An additional aspect concerns the quality of living that, despite the reduction in space, is expressed in the study of possible configurations, in the relationship between interior and exterior spaces, between private and public spaces and in the definition of the home space. It is a technical solution that does not forget the real dynamics of everyday use and is careful to ensure living conditions that respect the dignity of people who have already been hit hard.[3]

Civil war in Rwanda, 1994. To accommodate more than 2 million refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided a supply of tents that were made of an aluminium structure and PVC sheets; however, they were soon dismantled by the refugees themselves, who sold the aluminium poles and replaced them with branches of trees that were cut on site. This was a procedure that aggravated the already critical level of deforestation. To resolve this problem, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designed an emergency shelter structure using paper tubes that were first tested for durability, cost and resistance to termites. The solution was effective because of the easy production of the paper tubes and the small size of the machinery used to produce them. This made it possible to establish their production on site, and in turn, reduced the transportation costs. In 1998, fifty such emergency shelters were built in Rwanda and they were monitored to assess their performance (McQuaid, 2003; King, 2001). Following this experience and a previous one following the Kobe earthquake in 1995, Shigeru Ban has applied the use of cardboard as a structural material in other emergency contexts. He has refined and adapted a system used in Japan, the Paper Log House (emergency housing of 18 square meters with load-bearing walls in cardboard tubes), to different environmental and cultural contexts, including Turkey (2000) and India (2011). A first aid system consisting of tents with a tubular cardboard structure was used again following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.[4]

These four stories document the variety and complexity of emergencies to which we can respond, from time to time, with the most typologically appropriate solutions and with an emphasis on strategic issues, timing, environmental balance, large numbers, duration, quality of life, and so on. The entire repertoire of projects is certainly much broader and you may refer to the specific literature on the subject for further study.

The selection of these examples also wants to highlight some major research themes for the Mediterranean area: the attention to the social critical issues in the big cities with the first experiments on lightweight precast by Jean Prouvé; the large-scale migrations and the study of flexible and reversible systems by Frei Otto; the awareness of the geomorphological instability and the idea of a technical ready-for-use kit, with an attention to the values of living under transient conditions, in the research of R. Mango and E. Guida;  the studies of new materials and forms of self-production to respond to natural emergencies in a sustainable way with the experiments in the use of cardboard by Shigeru Ban.

3. The contemporary research on temporary dwelling: from emergency to new trends.

Here, we would like to outline an updated picture of the contemporary lines of research in three areas: emergency disaster, social emergencies and new trends in mobile living.

Regarding the first area, we will describe the Refugee Housing Unit project, which was born from a partnership between the IKEA Foundation and the UNHCR. The Swedish company has been able to provide this project with its expertise in the optimisation of costs and its operations in packaging, shipping and installation by transferring them from the area of furnishings to that of an emergency house consisting of 18 square meters.

The modules are now being tested in a refugee camp in Ethiopia; they are the result of co-design activities involving universities in Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. They are designed to replace the tent systems that are predominantly used in these situations and to ensure better climate protection and greater durability (three years compared to an average of six months for tents).

The modules are structurally composed of an easy-mountable system of metal and lightweight panels composed of a particular polymeric material called Rhulite, which is resistant and insulating and is capable of filtering the sunlight inside, but not projecting internal shadows to the outside at night. On the panels that make up the roof, there is a special fabric cover that reflects heat during the day and returns it at night; the sheets are also equipped with solar panels that provide lighting and electricity inside. All the elements necessary for the construction of a module are contained in its packaging plans, which include, according to the Ikea philosophy, everything needed for its installation, which requires half a day. The experiment, which began with 13 units that were installed in August 2013, is designed to verify their technical performance and the response to them in terms of housing and comfort during use to aid in the development of a final version.[5]

Other interesting research that is currently in progress and still at an experimental stage concerns the on-site production of clay housing by large 3D printers. The Wasp, the World’s Advanced Saving Project, which is an experiment being conducted by the research centre of an Italian company together with ISIA design students, has led the innovative world of producers to deal with housing issues in the poorest areas of the world.[6]

There are numerous project proposals that address the issue of social emergencies in light of the increasing number of indigent and homeless people.

Among these, the project Pro.tetto by Andrea Paroli (2012) is particularly interesting because it is exactly halfway between the design of a sleeping bag and a tent. Developed as a thesis in Product Design at the University of Rome La Sapienza and reported in ADI Design Index 2013 – Targa Giovani[7], it is designed as a disposable kit to be provided by mobile units to offer shelter from the cold on the most critical nights to all those who refuse to take refuge in specific centres. The kit, which is much reduced in size and weight (only 270 gr.), is contained in a little bag; it makes an emergency shelter composed of an inflatable insulating material (metallic PET), a mattress and a pump.

Similar in its compactness and portability, but intended to be personal reusable equipment, is the project Less Homeless, which was designed by the Portuguese architects Filipe Magalhães and Ana Luisa Soares, who were awarded a special mention in a contest in Lisbon in February 2013. Inspired by the Ikea concept, it is a very compact mounting kit that allows a shelter to be erected for the night in only a few minutes and then to be dismantled in the morning. The shape was deliberately designed to be an icon of a house as a means of visually signalling and denouncing the growing number of homeless people.[8]

More poetic and utopian, and striking for its extreme lightness, simplicity and “pocketability”, is the project Basic House by the Basque designer Martin Azúa; it is a cubic enclosure of metallic polyester that is inflated with air by the heat of the sun or by the human body, and which then deflates slowly, providing protection against heat and cold (Richardson, 2001). It is a minimalist house, designed for a nomadic lifestyle without material ties; but, it is also a way to expose the futility of so many things around us and to return to the basic concept of home as a protective shelter that is available anywhere and at any time. Basic House has been a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York since 2007 and it introduces us to the third issue that, following the ideological trends of the avant-garde of the twentieth century, has revealed a renewed dimension of the nomadic life as a contemporary lifestyle.[9]

There are many projects that could be reported in this field. Among them is Diogene, a mini accommodation designed by Renzo Piano for Vitra: It is only six square meters and costs 20,000 euros. It features very sophisticated materials, technology and energy performance, and in addition, it is mobile and has completely self-sufficient systems for harvesting rainwater and for the utilisation of solar energy. It is a complex product designed for industrial mass production. Revealed on the Vitra Campus in June 2013, Diogene is not intended to be an emergency shelter, but rather, a voluntary choice for shelter: It is a housing solution reduced to the essentials that is inspired by the barrel used by the ancient philosopher from whom it takes its name and that operates in total autonomy, independently of its environment (Adam, 2013).

Two similar projects are also worth mentioning. The Smart Student Unit, designed by Swedish architects of the studio Tengom (2013), is made totally of wood, consists of 10 square meters and is partially a loft.[10]A few years earlier, and already in production, the Micro House M-ch was designed by a team of researchers and designers in London along with the Technical University of Monaco as a response to a growing demand for short-stay accommodation for students, business people, spectators of sports events and those enjoying weekend visits. M-ch was developed by a research university in 2001 and, inspired by a Japanese tea house, it is a cube of 2.66 meters per side that covers an area of about seven square meters with a folding top that allows its height to be extended. The module, similar to the previous cases, it is supplied fully furnished. In 2005, thanks to the sponsorship of a telecommunications company, six units were set up on the first university campus. Currently, M-ch is on the market at a cost of € 38,000.[11]

Solutions like these, which are even larger in size, but still easily transportable on wheels, already assembled and able to accommodate more people, are now very widespread; this reflects a real interest in the market and a cultural change in the idea of living. For example, consider the Portable Home ÁPH80 by the Spanish design studio Abaton, which is 27 square meters (in 2013, the cost is 32,000 Euros)[12], the mobile unit building Su-Si (42 square meters, which allows more complex configurations and spacious rooms when combined with other modules and was the winner of the IF Design Award 2000 in Hannover) and a more compact version called Fred[13](formed by two cubes of about 3 meters per side, one inside the other, that, in the installation phase, expand to form a living space of 16 square meters), both of which were designed by the Viennese architect J. Kaufmann between 1999 and 2000.

These proposals reflect the trends of new forms of tourism and dwellings that are more in touch with nature, but that are also in touch with practical temporary needs for accommodations for study or work. They are examples of useful and good quality experimental productions that we hope will inspire new basic solutions that can be applied in cases involving social and environmental emergencies.

4. Conclusions 

From this synthetic review of the contemporary design research, a complex framework emerges in the relationship between emergency situations and design approaches. We will try to summarize by highlighting the most interesting lines of experimentation for the Mediterranean area:

– The emergency solutions in case of disaster, in order to optimize the problems related to storage, transportation and manufacturing, are strategically oriented in two different directions: the study of durable lightweight modular elements, easy to carry and assemble, where the processes of prefabrication are closer to the world of furniture than to the building (the Refugees Housing Unit by Ikea and the concept of the “assembly kit”); or experimenting new ways of self-production of autochthonous forms with poor materials but with technologically advanced systems (like the 3D clay moulding), in line with the pilot project launched by Shigeru Ban with the cardboard tube.

– The solutions for social emergencies emphasize the idea of the minimum shelter as an extension of the body, as a basic protection or a provocative ideological manifesto of an essential dimension of dwelling. It focuses on the object scale, on his immediacy and his temporary use, to reiterate the need of addressing social emergencies to other scales (architecture and urban policy) and to other levels (social and economic policies).

– Finally, the new forms of social aggregation and the current needs of mobility and transience for job or leisure feed the mass production of micro-mobile homes, with an eco-friendly and energy efficient approach. A new reflection on the existenzminimum, supported by a growing market, which could affect the concept of urban development and the relationship between natural and built environments.


Adam, H. (2013). Diogene. A cabin designed by Renzo Piano and RPBW for Vitra, in Vitra Magazine,, [12 giugno 2013].

Ambasz, E. (a cura di). (1972). Italy: The New Domestic Landscape. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Cecere, T., Guida, E., & Mango, R. (1984). L’abitabilità transitoria: la ricerca architettonica per nuove strategie abitative. Napoli: F.lli Fiorentino.

Firrone, T. (2007). Sistemi abitativi di permanenza temporanea. Roma: Aracne.

Gentile, S. (1992), “Il Concorso Fantoni, nuove utilizzazioni del pannello MDF” in Guida, E. (a cura di). Sistemi abitativi di soccorso. Ricerche, esperienze didattiche (pp.23-24). Napoli: Officine Grafiche F. Giannini e Figli.

Guida, E. (a cura di). (1992). Sistemi abitativi di soccorso. Ricerche, esperienze didattiche. Napoli: Officine Grafiche F. Giannini e Figli.

King, L. (2001). Shigeru Ban. London: Princeton Architectural Press.

Mango, R., & Guida, E. (1988). Abitare l’emergenza. Studi e sperimentazioni progettuali. Napoli: Electa Napoli.

McQuaid, M. (2003). Shigeru Ban, New York: Phaidon.

Parente M. (1992), “La risposta al concorso. L’esperienza didattica” in Guida, E. (a cura di). Sistemi abitativi di soccorso. Ricerche, esperienze didattiche (pp.25-48). Napoli: Officine Grafiche F. Giannini e Figli.

Paroli, A. (2012). Protetto. Riparo per l’emergenza freddo, Tesi di Laurea Specialistica in Design del Prodotto, Facoltà di Architettura, Università degli Studi La Sapienza a.a. 2011-12, relatore prof. F. Dal Falco, correlatore arch. M. Ziliani. Disponibile anche in: [30 dicembre 2013].

Richardson, P. (2001). XS: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. London: Thames & Hudson.

Schwartz-Clauss, M. (a cura di). (2002). Living in Motion. Design and architecture for flexible dwelling. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. More information is available at See the video explaining the house restoration at [January 10, 2014]. 
  2. The research, with the collaboration of students and undergraduates in the Course of Design, has continued in the following years through other educational experiments coordinated by prof. E. Guida, including solutions presented in a competition sponsored by Fantoni Furniture Group (1989). These designs, which were awarded with a special mention, involve the innovative use of MDF for modular temporary housing systems that are easy to transport and assemble. (Gentile, 1992; Parente, 1992). 
  3. In 1984, the IRI group Italstat realised the SAPI project – Space Housing Primary Care – designed by Pierluigi Spadolini; it was based on an evolution of the concept of the container into extensible modules that can be combined with each other to allow different configurations. The 200 units that were produced remained unused for years and required a large area for storage. They were donated by the Italian government for the emergency created by Armenia earthquake of 1989, which led to the creation of the still existing Village Italy. (Firrone, 2007, pp. 116-119). 
  4. See more disaster relief projects at [January 8, 2014]. 
  5. See the video explaining the project at [December 11, 2013]. 
  6. Cf. and see the video at [December 28, 2013]. 
  7. Cf. [December 2, 2013]. 
  8. Cf. [January 10, 2014]. 
  9. Further information is available at [January 10, 2014]. 
  10. Cf. [December 9, 2013]. 
  11. Cf. [January 18, 2014]. 
  12. Cf. [January 20, 2014].
  13. The Fred project has been exhibited in the travelling exhibition, Living in Motion (2002-2007), in the “Folding +Unfolding” section, and has been published in the magazine DETAIL n.03/2001 as well as in its catalogue. 

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Mediterranean Great Conversation


The exit from the Mediterranean emergency requires rethinking its identity in a new perspective. This means recognizing its legitimate role as a “Great Sea in Between”, as a cultural interface able to connect all the citizens that address to it, in everyday life and as individuals, involving them in a real “great conversation” based on the design disciplines. Design, Brand, Visual Identity, Packaging, Social Media, Fashion, Food, Architecture, Music may be powerful antidotes to the immobility of those who mourn a lost Mediterranean harmony and also a viable alternative to the ethnic closure led by the proponents of the Clash of Civilizations.

1. Globalization of indifference
The media landscape shows everyday apocalyptic scenes of tragedy between a bank and the other of the Mediterranean Sea (Boldrini, 2010). The images of death and suffering have become so frequent that they inevitably look like ordinary, necessary evil which seems everyday less outrageous and indicative. Ordinary recurrence of such tragedies matches, in fact, a loss of interest and centrality of these same events for the general public. They end up to be swallowed up by the boredom and indifference of zapping between TV channels. This goes on as long as it does not happen a striking fact, capable to return death to its real, to reawake, as on cue, the “dormant consciences” from torpor. On one hand, bellicose positions against any feared invasion of migrants along our coasts get reactivated, on the other, so do radical acknowledgements of activism in struggle for the universal brotherhood. Both positions are strengthened due to the wave of emotions which the emergence demands. No need of saying that this kind of reactions, however legitimate, are ready to fall again into the ordinary apathy led by the so called “globalization of indifference”, once the clamor has been overcome.
At the borderline of this rhetoric, the problem of the Mediterranean Sea as a cultural and symbolic space remains untouched, keen far beyond the emergency and the necessary humanitarian responses that crisis requires. In this regard, it may be asked whether it is possible to recognize a specific placement in the social imaginary of this sea. The politicians who are called to deal with the arrival of migrants, for example, face the horror, in regret. They think of the Mediterranean Sea as the site of a lost civilization (Braudel, 1985; Matvejević, 1987), a place of harmony among people who share a common citizenship, obliata in the present in the name of petty reasons: religious differences, nationalisms, economic interests are reported to have denied this common root causing the crisis of our years. Every willing of intervention is focussed on how to restore this lost harmony, on promising a return to a mythical as well as elusive Mediterranean golden age. We can understand how this feeling of Mediterranean Community risks of presenting itself as “Invention of Tradition” (Hobsbawm & Ranger, 1983), atavistic longing for a timeless purity, hard to be recognized in a given historical horizon.

2. Mediterranean Nostalgia
In the memoirs of Sicilian emigrants to America between 800 and 900 (Pucci di Benisichi, 2003), an interesting metaphor can be found: the Atlantic ocean with the ship appointed to cross it was compared to a big belly able to swallow and digest passengers during the trip, then respit them on the docks of New York as completely transformed after a long digestion. The Mediterranean Sea, nowadays, rather than “sea in between”, works like an endless ocean: prevents communication between the two sides, takes the floor and acts as a large stomach constantly digesting everything that goes through it, reducing it to a pulp. That’s why crossing it, far more than stepping along a trajectory, looks like a transfiguration. What is returned by the waves does not look like what was shipped in the beginning: not objects but debris, not bodies but shreds are found. And this is what triggers melanchony: these crumbles demand to be considered as fragments, pieces of a puzzle original and lost that wants to be reassembled.

3. Design and the Mediterranean “Great Conversation”
Such an offer may perhaps profitably be rejected, avoiding the easy temptation to invent the overall picture when being not able to rebuild it. Trying, for once, to fold it, rejecting the vintage languor of the æsthetics of fragment. That is to stop regretting the past, debating genealogy of common roots, that is to do away with the endless discussions on how to share the legacy of the “great sea in between”. Then, to try to do new things. And design them together, between a bank and the other in the Mediterranean, promoting, even financially , activities which aim to repopulate the sea of people. Not of migrants in search of a misunderstood and increasingly evanescent Eldorado but of new citizens of a new coastal community that can come back to invest on their geographical proximity. Doing things together, with the right responsibilities and the necessary determination. In such an attitude, design skills, meant in a deep latourian perspective (Latour, 2009), may run a big part. Emergency exit may have a lot to do with branding, visual identity, packaging, social media, fashion, food, architecture, music, all of which require a high level of creativity and low costs of entry and are based on the use of real and virtual networks in order to link people in the flesh. The best way to the emergency exit of the Mediterranean, then, is to think of it as a cultural space; think this sea within what is called the Great Conversation, in the Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger, 2000), the famous book of online business. It is worth pointing out that obviously this has to do with the digital communications infrastructure but for sure it does not end up with the mere technological sphere. On the contrary, it concerns primarily the daily life. Changing perspective on the Mediterranean Sea means, first of all, abandoning the great theories, the notorious geopolitical and strategic talks, the clash of civilizations and the universal brotherhood to take a pragmatic perspective, tailor made for the citizen, that is the same as to say, revolutionary thing, for the individual.

3. Paypal and freedom of movement
From these fast considerations, new questions: when can we buy an item of Moroccan Design on paying with Paypal? When sending small correspondence between the countries of the Mediterranean will be possible without paying big bucks? When, and here comes the really fundamental question, citizens who want to trade, do business, learn, move into their Mediterranean scenery, which is their home, can do so, without incurring the heavy humiliations that the visa regime imposes with no difference to the travelers?


Boldrini, L. (2010). Tutti indietro. Milano: Rizzoli.
Braudel, F. (1985). La Méditerranée, les hommes et l’héritage. Paris: Flammarion.
Hobsbawm, E. & Ranger, T. (1983). The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Latour, B. (2009). A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk) in Hackney F., Glynne, J. & Minton V. (a cura di). Network of Design, Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of Design History Society (Uk) (pp.2-10). Boca Raton: Universal Publisher.
Levine, R., Locke, C., Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (2000). Cluetrain Manifesto. New York: Perseus Books.
Matvejević, P. (1987). Mediteranski brevijar. Zagreb: Grafički zavod Hrvatske.
Pucci di Benisichi, R. (2003). Prefazione. In Schiavelli V. Bruculinu America. Palermo: Sellerio.
Schiavelli, V. & Lipani, S. (2002). Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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Fig. 1 Standing man of Taksim Square, performance.

Mediterranean Emergency: Design Against Disasters (DAD!)

Social, political and economic turmoil appear to be an on-going agony for the Mediterranean region, ever since, perhaps, the emergence of “Mare Nostrum” in Roman times. The issues we face today have always been present. However they have come to the surface differently in recent years and demand urgent responses in accordance with their new characteristics.

We know that limited economic growth and unequal distribution of wealth are some of the reasons causing migration today, in addition to inadequate access to basic services and fundamental rights, which make people “vulnerable to extortion, violence, discrimination and marginalization”. As stated in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message:

Almost half of migrants are women; 1 in 10 is under the age of 15; 40 per cent live in developing countries. Poor and low-skilled migrants face the highest barriers to social mobility. The United Nations is acting to safeguard the rights of migrants, lower the social and economic costs of migration, and promote policies that maximize the benefits of mobility. Migrants should not be forced to risk lives and dignity seeking better lives.

Each year thousands of illegal migrants die in the Mediterranean, some under the wild waves of the cold sea, some in the hidden compartments of smugglers’ trucks and some God knows where…We will never forget the Lampedusa boat disaster, which claimed hundreds of emigrants’ lives last year in Italy.

A design response is vital in helping to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.

The problem of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in their country is another issue requiring an immediate answer. Millions of people live in tents, temporary shelters and container houses in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, for how long no one knows.

A design response is essential to raise the quality of these people’s lives.

The problems are complicated, social conditions are complex, and situations are chaotic in many Mediterranean states. Social unrest against long surviving regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria etc., was initially welcome by the West. The images of anti-governmental protests were presented to the global public as if these movements could be the beginning of a new era and even maybe the beginning of participatory democracy in these countries. However, the expectations of this so-called Arab Spring have faded quickly in this respect. At a glance, protests began with people’s demands for democratic rights. Nevertheless, while protestors were critical of the status quo, their demands were vaguely articulated and showed little unity of purpose as to what should replace it. This resulted in power vacuums following the fall of the various regimes, which various factions and extremist groups have sought to exploit. Al Qaeda increased their presence in Syria and Iraq and the ‘Arab Spring’ ricocheted off the Mediterranean glass ceiling.

A design response is crucial to define and defend universal values valid for all.

Each country has its own particularities and civil unrest in the Mediterranean reflects these differences clearly: what happened in Egypt or Tunisia cannot be comparable with that of Syria. Therefore an analytical and critical approach with substantial local knowledge is imperative to obtain a realistic understanding of social turbulence being experienced in these particular countries. For example, the Turkish state’s distinctive reaction to the Gezi Park or Taksim Square Protests in 2013 needs to be underlined.[1]

Unlike many other protests, participants’ creative reactions made a significant mark on the Taksim Square demonstrations. During and after the events, participants and contributors produced art works, composed and made music, performed dance, shot art pictures, made documentary films, wrote books, designed posters and objects and so on. Innovative performances such as the “standing man of Taksim Square” [Fig. 1] and a great sense of humour have burgeoned through slogans, jokes, and graphic works and so on. For instance gas masks became a symbol of the protests and were widely used in every circumstance and in all media [Fig. 2, 3, 4]. For instance, when Izmir Mediterranean Academy produced a series of posters to celebrate the World Industrial Design Day on 29 June 2013, the mask was used for one of the posters to indicate that it is an object of design, while at the same time making an implicit reference to the Gezi Park resistance [Fig. 5]. Design was an inseparable tool of communication in Taksim Square with which protestors gained public sympathy and conveyed their messages more efficiently.

No doubt, the Mediterranean Emergency requires an urgent design response for all kinds of disaster, including natural ones such as flood, tsunami or earthquake. The list may extend easily. We are aware that some of these listed are not specific to the Mediterranean but applicable in other cases and areas too. However, when priorities are concerned, the current problems of the Mediterranean, such as immigration and refugees cannot be postponed and must be resolved quickly. Design has limited direct power to effect change yet nevertheless can help alleviate victims’ suffering as well as accelerate a political and social solution to problems. Therefore, a call for design response concerning the Mediterranean Emergency is not a fantasy but a must.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

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Nefertiti with gas mask, designed by El Zeft, worn by women during a manifestation in Cairo, downtown

Editorial #11

PAD Issue #11 is online. This issue is completely dedicated to the Mediterranean design with interesting contributions coming from different authors living and working in the countries of this part of the world.

Why are we addressing the topic of Mediterranean Emergency and Activism?

Because the critical situation of the Mediterranean area, that in the last years run into an acute condition of emergency due to strong social conflicts and demonstrations of public dissidence against political and social repression, especially in the field of art and design practices.

Lampedusa Island, in the south of Italy, is afflicted by the continuous clandestine disembarking and by serious sea crashes that have caused the death of many immigrants. The Syrian civil war records an increasing number of refugees. To escape the violence, more than two million Syrian refugees [1] have fled their country to neighboring countries as Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey. Refugees experiencing extremely poor and unsafe life conditions have overpopulated Gaza strip, like other Palestinian territories, for a long time. Meanwhile, protest movements have broken out in different regions, like Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, or the occupy movements and the Gezi protests in Istanbul.

Facing these troubles, expression of long-term unsolved problems, civil society demonstrates its disagreement, during public events and by social media, also creating visual artifacts like Calligrafiti or masks (as shown on our cover), and generally using design practices, going beyond the conventional conception of design as a marketing or styling tool (T. Balcioglu). Furthermore, the advent of ICT has enabled rapid production and widespread distribution possibilities, urging activism and the potentiality of creative dissidence.

This issue starts with an article, as introduction, by Tevfik Balcioglu, a renowned scholar and design historian in Turkey, who proposes an overview of Mediterranean emergency. Tevfik Balcioglu launches DAD! (Design Against Disasters!), asking for a design response in order to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis as well as to give voice to civil society in the Mediterranean area.

In his text, the Italian semiotic scholar Francesco Mangiapane, appeals to a “great conversation”, between all the citizens of the Mediterranean area, founded on different design disciplines that could be able to rebuild a constructive social and cultural collaboration facing the emergencies.

Concerning immigrants stories, the paper by Marta Amorós Torró, PhD of the Universidad de Girona (Spain), brings us back almost a century ago, for a retrospective analysis of emigration, seen in an opposite direction than today, when part of Spanish, Italian and Maltese population moved towards colonial Algeria, with a consequent strong sense of belonging to European-origin communities.

The paper by Raquel Pelta, a Spanish historian from the Barcelona University, analyzes Mediterranean phenomena of activist design. The text describes socio-political activism in Spain since the 60s, and its relation with art and design movements, which came into view particularly in the 90s.

The paper by Andreas Sicklinger and Reham Mohsen, design professors in Cairo, concerns the intensive use of graffiti around the cities of Egypt during the events of the last years of revolution, and analyzes the new use of faces in Graffiti as protesting images. Authors say “This phenomenon has raised through a social and psychological background […] which is referring to a new identity for the Egyptians”.

In this situation of chronic emergency, politically active design could find several solutions for everyday life, in order to decrease emergency seriousness. Marina Parente offers an overview of design research on emergency housing and temporary living, which represents “the intersection of practical needs with the aspiration, sometimes utopian, toward an extreme simplicity in living and an innate desire for freedom and exploration”.

The paper by Maria Antonietta Sbordone and Rosanna Veneziano presents an example of product-service design project for immigrants, for a better access to the healthcare system by peoples in the emergency areas. The text highlights the role of design, which leverages on ICT as a useful tool to improve accessibility, to share data and information, in order to develop an integrated assistance in which the immigrant citizen becomes part of a healthcare system.

And also my article presents a number of projects where the social approach of design emerges transforming power relations into a new social order.

The closing text is the reportage by Ziad Zitoun, which focuses on the “Arab spring” in Tunisia, Lybia and Egypt, shown very powerful examples of visual design. The article, both emotional and personal, illustrates socio-political movements and their relationships with art practices in the Southern Mediterranean coast. In the mean time it describes the roles of network technologies as catalysts of activism phenomena in the public space.

Nowadays, Mediterranean emergency reality represents a primary challenge for designers toward a socio-cultural evolution and an economic renovation of this part of the world.

Cover photo: Nefertiti with gas mask, designed by El Zeft, worn by women during a manifestation in Cairo downtown. Photo by El Zeft (Egypth). The same mask was used during “Egypt : sexual assaults on women must stop” German protest.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. See 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.)

From Drop City to the African hackerspace

Abstract: The modernity of the 'ad-hoc’ approach enhanced by the American counter-culture of the Sixties is proved by the numerous events recently dedicated to the topic. If the adhocracy is the opposite of the strict hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations, adhocism represents the art of improvisation, of being able to find rapid solutions in critic situations, according to the typical  lifestyle attitude of the Southern parts of the world, where the Do It Yourself practises represent a necessary daily exercise, that nowadays is acquiring an important variable, represented by the democratisation of information technologies and of relation nets. Therefore, the long wave of community of makers has reached Africa as well, thus giving life to something extremely original.

The complete version of this article is available only in Italian.

What’s up? 15 young european architects

Fifteen firms of young European architects show their most relevant works and meditate on the current conditions of design production. While pragmatically anchored to the present, this generation confronts the transition to a different, more cooperative and social, existential situation: to an architecture that can overcome the obsession for individual self-representation and formal and stylistic research in order to contribute to an ecology of interaction.

WHAT’S UP? is a call to attention. An invitation to look at what is happening in the European architectural scene.
Young people’s slang is used to describe a new generation of talented architects who know how to turn the tables on prejudice and reticence.
The book was designed to arouse curiosity and stimulate architectural critique by channeling it towards the results achieved by young generations of designers; the goal is to document and testify to the organizational capabilities and cultural training of younger firms in the context of an equal and not rash comparison with colleagues who have been active for a long time, through the tools of ideas and work procedures.
The selection involves 15 European firms whose members range between 30 and 40 years of age, described with a text and the publication of two of their projects, the first one they developed and the one they consider most significant. The selection was based on anagraphical aspects but also on the firms’ contribution to the current debate on the state of architecture.
Among the various selection criteria was the number of works carried out in connection with years of activity, as well as the will to identify projects with different functions, from which heterogeneous shapes, inspirations, intentions, results, materials and colors emerge. For some States, in cases where content was equal, another selection factor was a studio’s presence in the media.
While different educational backgrounds, project methodologies and action ranges emerge from the interviews (some plan mainly sport or religious buildings, others work in the poorest areas of the world), all firms equally highlight the importance of architectural research, interdisciplinarity, professional collaboration and context.
To listen to professionals who will try to plan future cities is as interesting as recording the experience of well-known architects.
I hope it will be evident that what caused this book to develop is my belief in freedom of expression and in the enthusiasm of young generations, in their ability to change predominant values, in the sacrifices made in the name of the passion for their job, and in the courage and recklessness of so many professional choices that characterize the beginning of one’s career.
Despite the unpromising economic and political situation we face today, I believe that tenacity and talent always provide astonishing results, and that listening to inexperienced architects’ original voices and ideas can be a winning weapon to create varied and more stimulating places.

Salvatore Spataro

The same music

Every time I hear the echo of Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd from my son’s headphones the familiarity of recognition merges with the surprise of an unexpected continuity of taste between generations. If they had told me forty years ago I wouldn’t have ever believed it: rock music was revolutionary form, ideological belonging, affirmation of identity and opposition to the old: simply unthinkable to share aesthetic pleasure with one’s parents. Broadening the gaze, one notices the same musical phenomenons of duration, or of postmodern copy and paste, cross the most varied forms of expression, and architecture isn’t an exception. But we can’t say that general or specific conditions have remained the same. This volume, dedicated to fifteen young architecture firms, gives voice to the first generation of digital natives, fully fluent in radically new languages, comfortable in a change comparable, for its explosive potential, to the one produced by Alberti and Brunelleschi. And it’s not just a matter of tools for specific disciplines, but of a total transformation of social interactions and forms of communication. The fact that all of this hasn’t (yet?) produced a recognizable space aesthetic is an unexpected as well as significant phenomenon. Some people sense in the characteristics of the web, in the extreme precision with which search engines return exactly what you look for, in the progressive isolation in social networks constructed by “likes”, the disappearance of the fuel for innovation, of the casual collisions with the unexpected to which the pre-digital epoch constantly exposed us. Others assign an important role to the consequences of the numerous crises (environmental, economic, ideological, demographic…) and to the just as many fall backs that ensued: especially in project-based disciplines, for which the “new” is less and less a socially recognized and shared value.
These reasons being true or not, it is evident that we are in a transition phase and the best way to understand it is to listen to its protagonists. A first fact that emerges from reading this book is precisely a certain marginality of the generational issue, as if the Freudian need to eliminate fathers has all of a sudden disappeared. Perhaps the early engagement with the concreteness of construction played a role in orienting the various approaches here collected towards a healthy proactive pragmatism, for which the expression of a specific position doesn’t necessarily have to pass through the emancipation from known paradigms. Activity that, in more isolated and sheltered fields such as academia, is actually still practiced with enthusiasm (even if there, usually, they try to eliminate the fathers exhuming the grandfathers…). The ambition which instead appears to be most shared by these young working architects is simply to do their work at their best, trying to maintain a certain integrity in regards to contextual conditions. Positions vary, from idealism at the limits of ingenuity to professionally realist approaches, but all are imbued with the will to take a distance from the cynicism and individualism we usually associate with the role of architects. The widespread distrust towards archistars’ ways and goals doesn’t therefore appear to be a perfunctory statement by those who, having been excluded by the game, declare their lack of interest in playing. It’s a different orientation, less obsessively directed towards individual self-representation via the shape of constructed outcomes. For these youngsters the project isn’t anymore a heroic act, à la Howard Roark, the fictional and romantic architect played by a tough Gary Cooper in Fonte meravigliosa. It’s not the result of the rare talent of a Gehry, or of a technological persistence, that sustains its feasibility. He doesn’t even rely on the paradoxical reversal of reality through its own contradictions, a narrative device on which Rem Koolhaas and his many pupils built their success. If, in the end, we manage to recognize a generational specificity, we must look for it for it in opposites: in a different existential condition, more collaborative and social, more careful to participate in a sort of ecology of interaction, in space and time, in choices and areas of expertise. A generation not particularly oppressed by its past or anxious to shape the future, and thus quite rooted in the present, precociously aware that in a rapidly transforming world the quality of the voyage is more important that reaching goals that are less and less identifiable.

Review by Giovanni Corbellini
Padova, 5 July 2012

Ziad Zitoun from Tunisia

Ziad Zitoun is a contemporary Tunisian artist. He does a interdisciplinary work with videoart, installations and mixed-medias. He starts his creations in 2004 with Videoart. He follow with videodance works, photography and mixed-medias documents. Ziad Zitoun composes about recurrent socials thematics of immigrants & human rights.
His semantic turn around topics of migrants rights, trans-borders movements, refugees history… those works speaks about human rights and condition of people in movement. The author lines up with minimal and abstract forms. In that direction he studies about Zelij patterns, stamping & ceramics. Ziad Zitoun mix languages for gathering lines and patterns to allow a social message with a strong visual narration.

Thematics of inspiration by Ziad Zitoun revolves around rights of migrants, trans-borders movements & refugee Asylum. His works speak about familial separation, stigmatization and social invisibility that produce clandestinity life. Ziad Zitoun gives thoughts on the South-North relations and be testimonies of persons who live without dignity, without fundamental rights (health, work, education).

The author speak about them people who try to survive, persecuted only for the fact they are ‘illegals’. Every year, thousands of people from all over the world, afflicted by economic, social and political hardship. They escape from wars, dictators governments or misery. They migrate to Europe in attempt to attain better living standards. Every day a lot of people perish on the way.

Ziad Zitoun studies related social problems and it transcribe it in contemporary art domain for create aesthetic of migration. Art has for centuries been deeply estimated by the presence of immigrant artists and them fresh ideas. Today, more than ever before, the population reflects global patterns of migration, and this is evident in the art add a value of diversity in in our contemporary societies.

Visual arts

“I create visual narrations and construct a strong social message. I’ m using expressive textures, which are combined with the main figurative motifs as ornaments as Zelij patterns and african tooling. I’ m always turning around the idea of border, the wall, the line. Adding textures helps me to express feelings about these concepts.” said Ziad Zitoun, “An intense colors work on playing with bi or tricolor compositions. With this chromatic game, I covering surface with set of geometrically organized tiles inspirited by Zelij architectures and russian constructivism works. I use rock, iron fence and wall pictures. That give me the chance to transfer the feelings of someone who is in front of a wall. I wish to express feelings of someone in the situation of crossing a border. I try to express the difficulties that you can feel when you see something locked and when you try to overpass this situation.”


“Photography permits me a deconstruction of space, transcribe an ambient of urban square, and create extended perception of a location. My preferred location is North African & Mediterranean area. Tunisia, Algeria or Libya is wonderful unknown regions of the world. I capture rarely viewed scenes and environments and present them in a dynamic way.” said Ziad Zitoun.
“Photography is a powerful medium it opens our point of view, give visibility to unknown areas & change our perception of reality. Do pictures is as open a window, create a bridge and permit new connection between the subject and the viewer. Photography can break a thousand barriers & invite you to explore the world, experiencing other cultures, be concerned & sensitive to the world around us. It helps in opening up our mind. I capture scenes and events as I see them and to share with others the beauty and diversity of the world I’ve seen.”

“Mediterranean – Shared & Divided” is visual art project about in the Mediterranean area. The interdisciplinary project explore photography for create contemporary motions of this space. Between Sarajevo, Tunisia, Istanbul and Cairo. “Mediterranean – Shared & Divided” aims to promote a dialogue among communities sharing commons backgrounds. In a actual fragmentation of Mediterranean belt due of an hard european migration politic, artists propose new visual artworks for contribute to pluralism, diversity and multiculturalism dialogue.

Design & Production in Italy from ‘Miracolo Economico’ to Present

Abstract: The history of Italian design is characterised by a variety of changes gradually occurring within the relationship design-production. These changes are inherently connected to the structural conditions of the Italian industrial fabric, to the technological development, to the economical changes and to the changing conditions of the design demand and offer both in Italy and all over the world. The present chronicle considers Milan and its surroundings as the centre of a series of events that made the Italian design reach the point that it is still maintaining at a worldly level. Moreover, it takes into account the productive sector of furniture and furnishing accessories, which mainly identify Italian design. As any facts revision, also this one has privileged some aspects and excluded some others, in order to reach its own significance.

The complete version of this article is available only in Italian.

Interview with Denis Santachiara

Paola Proverbio: The 1985 exhibit “La Neomerce. Il design dell’invenzione e dell’estasi artificiale”, created by you and supported by Montedison’s “Progetto Cultura”, was definitely paradigmatic, as you clearly showed the way towards a new design based on ‘soft’ electronic and computer technologies, of which you saw sensorial and poetical elements. After may years, what direction you envision for design?

Denis Santachiara: The most important thing in design is the presence of some strong motivation, of a context constantly renovated by new discoveries – as it was in the 1960s with plastic materials. Differently from other arts, design is not an autarchic form of expression. It is a complex system. Today I still believe the future of design is strictly connected to the development of technology. The only limit is that while using technology design is more concerned with materials than with its potential influence on the productive process; actually, such process is the main factor of change, as it determines the cultural configuration of objects, and not merely their shapes.
As soon as 1986, when I contributed with Alberto Meda to the editing of Ezio Manzini’s  book, La materia dell’invenzione (1986), I started reflecting on diversified seriality. It has been a long time, then, since I first saw the web as an environment offering a chance for real developments in design. This belief brought me to the creation, with Tiziana Cippelletti and Paolo Trezzi, of Monastero Santachiara in September 2004.

Tell us more about this venture.

The original idea was to encourage rapid manufacturing in less than avant-garde businesses, acting in many different ways. I also concocted a project for an exhibit at the Milan Triennale, as I had done for “La Neomerce”. I clarified in an article this idea (Tessa, R., 2005), in relation to the so-called Personal Factory. However, I was too far ahead of the times, and the operation could not be continued. Even today, the web is still perceived by businesses as a mere communication device, a tool for advertisement and image-building, and not as a working environment, while many designers – and especially those of the last generation – are absolutely up to date with this shift. It is clear, then, that the design world has not yet established an actual connection with the world of the web. I believe when this encounter happens, it will facilitate the birth of a new context of renovation for design; maybe times are just not ripe yet.

In the exhibit “Principia. Stanze e sostanze delle arti prossime” at the 2011 Fuorisalone in Milan, though, you foregrounded this important approach to design, something people have been talking about for at least a decade.

Yes. That was for me another manifesto-exhibit, a post-media event through which I wanted to show another possible future development for design; I chose several principia ruling the disciplines connected with technology, and I put designers in front of a question, in order to understand in which direction design itself should be headed. So again I insisted on the meaning and importance of the Personal Factory, since through it design can express new linguistic and poetic moods, while rapid manufacturing makes it possible to produce a piece or a thousand at the same unit cost, that is the main goal of mass personalization.

Mass personalization, of course, but in some cases self-production, as well. As you have pointed out, it is possible to reach a total autarchy of commodities, based on open-source strategies. In 2007 you installed a 3-D printer in your workshop, and you began creating models. Can you tell us more about your direct experience with both production and these upcoming forms of project?

As a matter of fact, I go in many different directions, as I try to take advantage of all the opportunities opportunities offered by this new context: Open Search Design, Co-design, Open design, post-serial Design On-demand. As for Open-search design, in 2010 I conceived a motorcycle utility which contains GPS, electronic toll collection system and charger. I designed it for my motorcycle, but once the project is available online, clients can download the math from the website and print it out in ABS format at the closest service using 3-D printers. Through a simple parametric software, you can change the math and customize the attachment based on the specifics of your vehicle and also your personal taste, by adding text and images.
The same is true for a set of glasses I designed, with both a customized mount and a simplified assembling process, in order to make every step compatible with the entire production system.
The interesting side of such system is that you do not just print models, but actual objects of immediate use: for instance, I recently printed a metal door handle. As for co-design and co-creation, I designed a set of shelves allowing clients to adjust them based on their needs and taste. The project was chosen by Quirky (, a New York-based online platform selling everyday objects. Through the community, designers, consumers and business associates rate the products and suggest possible improvements, from colors to prices. After this pre-marketing stage, Quirky decides whether to produce the object and sell it through its website and its partners, including Amazon, Apple etc.
As for open design, I joined forces with Campeggi to create “Santapouf PRO” (2010), a soft, colored, customizable ottoman with a built-in inflatable emergency bed. My inspiration was the “continuous profile” sculpture by Giuseppe Bertelli (1900-1974), who during the regime believed in the possibility of one head thinking for everybody; in a democratic, open, technological, liquid, connected society, each of us thinks with his or her head. My idea was to use CNC (computer numerical control) technology to cut polyurethane. For now, my ‘pouf’ has my own profile, but it can take on the face of each client. You just need to send your profile to us through smartphone, e-mail and so on. Our goal is to suggest an idea of design which could be customized without getting outside the price range of standard industrial products.
Another possibility I explored is design on-demand: I was recently asked to make a project for an urn (architects have always designed family tombs, while industrial designer have created customized family urns). In my project, you just need to send some pictures to have one made with your own face. The first urn has a primary shape on which the ‘client’s’ features are added; the second is a transparent cylinder containing many small boxes that can be given out to relatives and friends. It is obviously a challenging, thought-provoking matter, but it concerns all of us.

Paola Proverbio, Politecnico di Milano –

This interview was taken during a conversation with Denis Santachiara for the research published in: Proverbio, P. (2012). Denis Santachiara. In Pagliardini, V. (ED), I Protagonisti del Design. IT: Milan. Hachette.


Manzini, E. (1986). La materia dell’invenzione. Milano, IT: Arcadia

Tessa, R. (2005, April, 13). Nuove tecnologie, una seconda rivoluzione per il design. La Repubblica. 

Interview with Odoardo Fioravanti

Marinella Ferrara: What changes have taken place in the profession of the 3rd millennium young designer, in comparison with the past, with the 1960s? Do you think that the present production delocalization and market globalization can affect the traditional relationship between design and industry? In what way?

Odoardo Fioravanti: The designer’s job has radically changed, for different reasons. On the one hand, the new design degrees have led to a deeper awareness of design and to an education focalized on the productive process. This, according to some people, can cause a lack of the project-based culture and also a proliferation of design related topics in unconventional sectors and manners.

On the other hand, the industry and production have undergone deep changes. The big firms’ crisis and the grinding of the productive system into a sort of cloud containing a lot of new little companies wanting to exploit design, have made a designer’s life not easy. In most cases, these little companies want to go into design only because they’ve ‘heard of it’. Therefore, we have to go back to the start and explain why it is necessary to spread the culture and the philosophy of design in the industrial world: we need a sort of micro-evangelization.

Most of the firms do not produce, they are just editors, who own strong marketing skills. The main theme here is the relation, not the production, between who invents the products and the industry. The debate, in the end, comes down to marketing and saleability based on the goods’ appeal.

It must be also said that the delocalization of the industrial production represents an epoch-making change for a certain kind of goods, those goods that, on the basis of a dimension/cost ratio, can easily and inexpensively be carried around. This contributes to the creation of a new class of producers who do not mind producing low cost goods and selling them at very low prices, in order to stimulate purchases even in times of constant crisis.

Besides, a sort of communicative magma surrounds design nowadays, spreading ideas and projects, and merging together different ideas, thus making thoughts univocal. A sort of a koiné of languages that filters projects, in order to get rid of those that are not cool or communicatively effective. But this is a ‘baby’ communication,…

Do you still believe in the role of the industry?

I strongly believe that in the definition ‘industrial design’ both words are vital. The design prepares a message, gives a shape to a thought, not only a functional one, and the industry allows the circulation and the development of this thought on a mass-market scale. This does not exclude the presence of new productive patterns such as those based on the 3D printers and the ‘makers’ world. But the industry is still the place for a large-scale production of goods, where it is still possible to meet the people’s demands with a commitment to research, to resource optimization, to a democratic production. Snow, my chair for Pedrali, has a very low price and such a wide distribution that could be impossible without the help of a real industry.

Have there been any changes in the company requirements for the designers?

The demands have changed, of course. People look for projects that can easily be put into production and easily be taken in by the market. They want market-ready projects, so contemporary as to seem they’re coming out of the near past: low cost projects that can easily be understood and that can stimulate compulsive purchases. There is no time to wait for the projects to be developed, to find their right collocation. Very few companies have their own competence to develop the products; therefore the designers have to prepare projects that are ready for production. We need to use an engineering approach, to understand the technological problems, to find suppliers and contractors on behalf of the firm, etc. As if part of the company were substituted by the designers’ studios. So a designer is not only the one who designs and has good ideas, but one who does think from the processes and the contacts he has with the artisans.

Are there more responsibilities for a designer now?

I don’t know if it has to do with responsibility, but there is much more work during the phase preceding the meeting with the firms, definitely. One has to go to the meeting with quite clear ideas, with a story ready to be sold, with a very mature idea of whatthe production and the distribution will be like. In short, we sell a project turnkey and often the firms only have simply to decide whether to invest in a ready idea. This has little to do with the history of Italian design, where the main part of the productive development has always been carried out in collaboration between the industry and the designer, by working hard on prototypes and models.

What changes have recently been introduced in your job thanks to the new digital, fast making and rapid prototyping technologies?

The first impact of rapid prototyping has to do with a change in speed when it comes to creatingthree-dimensional models of a project. Something that was unconceivable twenty years ago now has become usual in this job. It is very rare for the prototypes to be hand-made and often, whether to produce an object or not, is decided by looking at the image coming out from a 3D printer.

The real challenge introduced by these new techniques is linked to the possibility of making it all low cost. There are still obstacles connected to the cost of the machines, the interface usability, the uniformity in the quality of the results (generally there always is something that needs adjusting). When the 3D printers will become similar to the other domestic appliances, itwill be cheap to buy one, easy to use it and to look after its maintenance, fast to download a file from the Internet for the 3D and print a wished object ourselves, just as today we can buy and listen to a musical track online.

What do you think about the various forms of self-production?

I think it is a sort of ‘warm up’ before entering the world of industry. I did it, too, sometimes, two in particular: the lamp Shift and the roncola that I designed for my exhibition at Triennale di Milano. Self-production is a bit like a gym that allows us to learn different aspects of the productive system. Besides, it allows giving shape to some projects that would never see the light otherwise, because they do not fit in the companies’ selection. It makes me think to a sort of a relief valve of the world of ideas: now and then, when the internal pressure is excessive, there is a leak of self-produced objects. Often, young designers use self-production in order to show their skills, since it is very hard to find industries that commission new projects. But I still think that self-production is so different from industrial production: self-production may create a niche market and micro-economies, whereas the industry is connected to a macro-economic world that can to reach the masses.

What do you think about the financial capital penetration in the designing firms, with a new role for the management?

The industry was born out of craft and design was born out of industry, therefore design was born also out of craft. This link is undeniable. Today there are rumours about the ‘new craft’. The most careful people have never forgotten craft and to call it ‘new’ seems to me just a way to make it still ‘fashionable’. In such a critical moment for the industry, the chance to start design projects through a handmade draw-plate is a good solution. It must be remembered first, that craft has always had a vital role inside Italian industry:think about the furniture draw-plate where most of the products have a high component of craftwork. We could therefore conclude that Italian industry has never been totally industrial; instead, it has been half-industrial. Today, after Sennet’s works, we produce handicrafts that were initially thought for the industrial processes. But this, in my opinion, is a pointless discussion. Who’s able to separate with a neat line craft from design craft?

Interview with Francisco Gomez Paz

Marinella Ferrara: What changes have taken place in the profession of the 3rd millennium young designer, in comparison with the past, with the 1960s? Do you think that the present production delocalization and market globalization can affect the traditional relationship between design and industry? In what way?

Francisco Gomez Paz: I reckon I am lucky to work with design oriented Italian firms, where the company structure still allows designers to discuss and to share the risks with the managers. In my daily life, I work in direct contact even with the supplying firms who are involved in the project process. These artisans, contracting producers or technology and material suppliers all have an important role in the project development, since by talking and working together with them, we are often able to find the perfect solution for any production problem. As it happened, for example, with the table Ovidio, for the firm Danese: the project was developed thanks to an artisan of Danese, who is an expert in plate bending technology. What happened was, we had thought of a possible solution and thanks to his skills, we found a good solution for the leg and its joint in the table top, thus transforming a graphical idea into a structural project. With the help of technology we devised a geometrical structure, highly characterised by corners and angles, which provides the table with shifting profiles as the observer’s point of view changes.

Nowadays a lot is changing. Companies and contractors are facing hard times because of the economical crisis. The delocalization is breaking that virtuous circle, (one of the strengths of Italian design), of which the artisan-supplier is the weakest link.

Because of the delocalization, designers are lacking a relationship with the matter. Therefore, we have to do something in order to get this necessary relationship back.  Verifying a project by means of a model and a prototype is really important. I remember that, when I was designing Omero, a curious magazine rack, produced by Driade, in order to check its shape and its respondency to the function (the magazines fit into place in between the rings), I made a first wooden prototype with a lathe. Now my studio is better furnished, it has a small laboratory where my colleagues and I make the models that allow us to verify the technical and formal solutions.

What changes have recently been introduced in your job thanks to the new digital, fast making and rapid prototyping technologies?

Nowadays, the rapid prototyping tools are indispensable for a designer. For example, not only did I buy for my studio the most common tools, but even a 3D printer and Arduino, an open source framework, so that we can make studio models or prototypes of some small details which are important for the project development. I often tell the story of Hope, a lamp system, born as a new interpretation of the Bohemian crystal chandelier that Paolo Rizzatto and I projected for Luceplan. While developing the project it was important to verify the device by which the lenses, arranged around the light source, refract light. The weekend before the definitive agreement to put into production Hope components, I made a prototype of the lens in my lab, which changed the original project, with a remarkable improvement of the Hope design. The prototype made by means of a numerically controlled milling cutter was able to convey the formal and visual idea of a ‘metacrystal’ sheet, ultra thin, light, transparent and shiny, with microprisms in the internal surface, that could catch and refract the light, while reproducing at the same time all the optical qualities of the fine and thick crystal. The Monday after, thanks to the physical model that I made, it was easy for the firm managers to understad my intent and change their minds about the productive technology to be adopted. The first prototype of Sinapse was made in my laboratory, too.

The actual revolution is, nowadays, the ability to find information and acquire knowledge easily. For instance, we bought the 3D printer for the studio and then we found a video online, with the instructions to modify some of its functions. We learnt quickly and after that we’ve been able to modify the printer according to our particular purposes. That access to information is made so easy today is very important.

When I lived in Argentina, Internet wasn’t so widespread. In an isolated place, where design was not a common activity, the lack of information was a problem for me.

Do you still believe in the role of the industry?

Yes, I really do. Even if today this role is being strained. Because of instability and the crisis in the economy many companies are afraid of investments.

Have there been any changes in the company requirements for the designers? Are there more responsibilities for a designer now?

Designers have always had big responsibilities towards the companies they work with and towards the ‘human beings’. I prefer this word rather than ‘customers’ or ‘market’. Because, in my opinion, a designer understands little of the market but can understand very well the human beings, their primary and secondary needs, and their relationship with an object in terms of how well it can perform its function.

In the past, though, there were wider margins for error. Today we are witnessing the collapse of a general system. Firms, at lest the ones I work with, put into production fewer products, while demanding more breadth.

We need to be more aware of what we’re doing and where we’re going. Both designers and firms, as parts of our society, share big responsibilities: that kind of responsibility which can make our species go further ahead, towards new paths. One of the projects that have made me more aware of mankind was the Solar Bottle projected with Alberto Meda. This low cost container, that is able to disinfect water for those people who are exposed to contaminated waters, made me think about mankind’s primary needs. But still, even today, after so many improvements, having sorted most of the technical aspects and having developed good ideas for the business model, the project hasn’t found a possibility for production.

What do you think about the various forms of self-production? Do you believe in the possibility of self-management (on the part of the designers) of part or the whole project-production-distribution-selling process? Do think that self-production can lead to an economic development, at least a local one?

I believe in a designer’s ability to manage some parts of the process. This can happen for small productions. To project and to make small productions is possible for a designer, is something belonging to his skills. To sell is not. Still, it is not so difficult to sell 3 or 4 pieces if you have contacts with the sellers, if go to the fairs or online. A lot of my colleagues are wondering whether they should try this way. Self-production can be a big revolution, a quick-start for young designers who want to go into the job. The concept of self-production becomes interesting if linked to the personalization of a product or to the return to the craftsmanship of some products, for some firms who work in a complementary way with the industry. But distribution is a world, which is very far from the designer’s. It is the missing link in this new vision of the self-producing system. When the distributors will notice this opportunity, new prospects will arise that may put the small firms into trouble.

What do you think about the financial capital penetration in the designing firms, with a new role for the management?

The penetration of financial capital may prove very risky for Italian design, which is characterised by the relationship with the people, by the dialogue; which has never based its logics on the business plan, on the stiff management of time and resources; and which has never looked so much at marketing but has instead worked on the ideas, often even on illusions. It’ll depend on to what extent the venture capital will want to go in the design management.

There is a lot of talk about the new artisan. Do you think he could be involved in design?

Artisans are responsible for most of Italy’s beauty. The world of craft is made of people who do not sleep because they want to do better. From people who work with their hands, to those who invest on new machinery, who work with circuits. A part of my work is like that of the artisan who works with his hands and mind. But also with technology, as I did with my lamp Nothing, a handicraft that uses new technologies. It is strange that in Italy there is no government policy that helps to strengthen an artisan’s work by means of the technological innovation. It’s a shame because, for the reasons that I just mentioned, most of our craftsmanship will disappear in a few years.

Design & Production Today

Within the specific outlook of Italian design, how has the relationship design-production evolved? What are the differences between the past and today?

These are some of the questions asked, that the section Close up of number 9 attempts to answer. For this purpose, we will present a brief chronicle of Italian design, focusing on the relationship design-industry since the  economic miracle years until today. In addition to the chronicle, there is a n interpretation of  the current events through the interview to 3 multi-awarded designers: Denis Santachiara, internationally notable for his approach to design taking inspiration from the communication and performance potentialities of technologies, promoter and author of the ‘technical and poetic neo design’ of the Eighties; Francisco Gomez Paz, Argentian living in Italy, where he works in cooperation with the greatest Italian design centred companies; and the young Odoardo Fioravanti awarded with the prize ‘Compasso d’Oro 2011’, with a promising career ahead.

Papairlines Inaugural Flight from Greece

Abstract: Vasso, Costas and Loukas created papairlines, a creative platform that focuses on exposing the methodologies and process behind all things designed. This article describes their initial steps through 'Once Upon A Sponge' project in order to showcase how creativity and teamwork can be used as assets to overcome budget constrains and lack of recourses. Based on the public’s response the project also illustrates the outreach of design in everyday life.

Summer of 2011 was a rather uncertain time in Greece. It was when Vasso and Costas had returned from abroad and started rediscovering the centre of Athens. Through their walks, observing people behaviors and everyday scenarios, they were wondering how design could intervene to create new opportunities. Loukas, still based in London, kept them in the loop with the latest and greatest design news from a location where creativity is already embedded as a tool in contemporary culture.

A few weeks later, all three met and started discussing ways to expose the new directions in design to the public. In the Greek scene where design is mostly connected with furniture and interior, there seemed to be plenty of space to start talking about new genres such as critical, service, innovation and experience design.

To make their ideas travel, they decided to create the first no-budget airline and called it Papairlines. Fleet made of paper and ideas ready to materialize, they set out to communicate the role of design as a catalyst for change in all aspects of our everyday lives. Sounds grand? Well actually, they are taking one step at a time. The airline concept is indicative of budget limitations but full of creative energy to spread a positive message. Paper planes carry a childhood reference, a time when all was possible and thinking was unbiased.

For their first initiative they developed and curated an exhibition where Greek and international designers would respond to a common brief; to create and construct unexpected functional objects made out of the iconic green-yellow kitchen sponge. The project was called ‘Once Upon A Sponge’. Not knowing what to expect in response, they trusted that designers would be intrigued and get creative. The designer submissions revealed that design thinking offers realistic answers to everyday situations, not just on form and function, but also on emotion, social behaviors and underlying meaning.

Papairlines had been invited to present the project in metamatic:taf, a gallery in Monastiraki, the heart of Athens, that doubles as a cultural and social space for Athenians and tourists alike. Baring in mind that papairlines crew had the expectation to produce a rich visual and emotional experience for the public and budget was limited, things got interesting.

On these grounds, papairlines set out to look for sponsors, volunteers, people in a mood to help and creative solutions for the whole setup. Unsurprisingly, sponsorships came easier in kind rather than cash, which made for an intricate exercise in resourcefulness. They ended up with 40 meters of uncut sponge, 1200 single kitchen sponges and 20 of so electrical appliances to play with. The uncut sponge turned into sofas and wall cladding, the kitchen sponges into ‘pixels’ for an interactive installation and appliances took center stage to become plinths. Whitewashed to retain a domestic and fun feel, the electric appliances, which were on their way to the recycling factory, made a one-month stop in the gallery space before being disassembled.

On the press and communication side of things, Papairlines teamed up with a music TV channel and an online portal, both of which promoted the exhibition on a regular basis. Papairlines developed a form of barter with parties interested to contribute, exchanging services without exchanging money, helping each other even in times where means are scarce.

‘Once Upon A Sponge’ was carefully crafted to offer visitors not only a complete experience but also food for thought. The exhibition identity, graphics and layout were developed holistically. The presented work, as a collection, highlighted the process behind design and the diversity of design thinking regardless of the material-based common origin. The exploration of material properties and manufacturing techniques offered visitors an insight on ‘how things are made’. In a wider sense, the project outcome illustrates how design can be used as a research tool to create new stories and scenarios around a specific constrain. Collectively, creative thinking generated a positive impression to the visitors, evident by the feedback received through social media and Check-in message board interactive installation pictures. A casual reading room with relevant literature was also at hand for anyone requiring more information on the theoretical background of the project.

The exhibition run from the 10th of May to 16th of June 2012 at metamatic:taf and was afterwards presented at the ‘Santorini Biennale of Arts’ during the summer. For the Biennale, the setup concept moved along the same lines, using found materials and available resources; fortunately a few cable reels did the job. The project was also presented in the international conference ‘Artist in Industry: the role of design in the digital age’ in Bucharest discussing how an object can tell a story, how creative thinking can contribute to solving everyday problems, whether constraints can act as a stepping stone for something new and if design today can take on a more active role.

‘Once Upon A Sponge’ was developed with a shoestring budget and plenty of love, gaining loads of friends and fans along the way. Its success and outreach not only comes to prove that one has to be resourceful, proactive and sometimes embrace uncertainty to make things happen, but also that design can be used as a creative and strategic tool forming an integral part of our everyday life.

Costas Bissas, Vasso Asfi and Loukas Angelou are papairlines co-director –

Start-up Design. A new way to enter the market according to the Israeli experience

Abstract: This article begins with Ely Rozenberg’s personal experience, that led him to move to Italy early in his design career. The thought on his experience leads to some considerations on the difficult integration of young designers in the work market and a look at what is currently characterizing design in Israel: the foundation of numerous design start-ups. Case histories presented can bring valuable advice to young designers.

In 1998, a year after my degree at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem, some circumstances in my life led me to Rome.
Beside a few personal items, I brought with me a ‘luminous thread’ that had then recently been invented and produced by Elam, an Israeli company. I was looking forward to applying this new invention to design and to exhibit it at FuoriSalone di Milano before other design stars could get hold of it. So, I invited two colleagues for this mission, Alessandro Bianchini and Michael Garelik, one Italian and the other Israeli, and together we started our self-production: from the luminous thread came out, above all, ambient lamps. We were convinced that we needed to go to Milan with a dozen of ready pieces in order to satisfy the requests of the market. One day, while I was exploring the window streets of design in Milan, I found a space in Via Solferino, two metres away from that of the Dutch group Droog Design (when they were at the top of their fame). We did some slides of the lamps, which I personally brought to the editorial offices of the main design magazines and we prepared hundreds of prints and illustrative cards.

The debut was a success, a lot of visitors, positive reactions, but without a term of comparison we did not realize it fully. One night – I remember – we kindly sent away two visitors because we were tired and wanted to go to dinner. On the way out I met a friend from Milan and she told me: «Do you know those two people who have just left your exhibition?» – «No, I don’t» – I answered. «They are Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana!» At that time I didn’t even know who they were. Actually, that week a lot of international design stars visited us, but we couldn’t recognize many of them.

During the exhibition we didn’t sell anything, we took all our stuff back with us and we were quite disappointed. But we collected a lot of journalists, gallery and shop owners’ names and little by little, during the next months, prestigious shops, such as Moss Gallery in New York, ordered the lamps and they started to appear on several magazines. Some time later, a famous firm contacted us with an offer: they wanted us to ‘give’ them one of our lamps, which would then enter their production. We made a quick calculation and it seemed that is was an offer we had to seize immediately, since marketing wasn’t our vocation and the sales barely covered the high costs of the exhibition in Milan. Selling the lamp to that firm would have allowed us to ‘be free’ to look for a new adventure. We came out of that experience aware that in order to charge again as small producers we had to find something really different from the products that already existed, if we wanted to justify our undertaking. And even with a winning idea we knew that in order to be a good producer, having a good design is not enough, in fact, design is only a small part of the organization, whereas communication, logistics and distribution are the big ‘problem’. A product is like a child. After you give birth to it (could be a painful delivery but soon it’s over anyway), you have to look after it for years, and in the meantime you have to think about how to help its growth in this world. Bearing this in mind, you do not feel free to have more ‘children’. My awareness made me really careful up to the present, keeping me from going into self-production again. Since then, many years have gone and I’ve had many other adventures and rewards – prestigious prizes and products that I designed have been ‘adopted’ by the world of production. Nonetheless, the pleasure of opening an exhibition, with innovative products, never seen before, in the heart of FuoriSalone di Milano and give out the price lists to curious and enthusiast shop owners, coming from all over the world, still tempts me. I couldn’t swear I don’t want to repeat this crazy adventure!


As for the term self-production, in Italy, I’ve always perceived it as a synonym of something not very serious, when uttered by professionals. None of them thinks it is a concrete and reliable thing. It has always been considered as a moment of fun for those young designers who try to show off and after 1 year or 2 disappear with their stand. The real world belongs to the eminent owners of family firms who have a true, recognized industrial production.
But, who can remember that the golden generation of Italian design numbers several designer-entrepreneurs who at the same time projected their products?
Just to mention some of them: Ernesto Gismondi with Artemide, Paolo Targetti with Targetti Sankey, Enrico Baleri with Baleri Italia, Gino Sarfatti with Arteluce, Riccardo Sarfatti and Paolo Rizzatto with Luceplan, Elio Martinelli with Martinelli Luce, till the most recent ones such as Ingo Maurer, Enzo Catellani with Catellani & Smith and many others. When does a self-producing designer start to be considered an entrepreneur? Where does the thin line between small range production, self-production and proper production stand?

Within the European panorama, I’d like to mention two design dissertation projects that have now become points of reference in their sector. They are,,, the last of which born in a school of art and design. The three of them gave birth to some successful start-ups, which would deserve a separate treatment.

What is a start-up?

From personal experience to the definition of a phenomenon, which is now very wide spread: the attempts to launch a new project, in other words, the start-ups.

Start-up refers to a starting company. In particular we are going to speak about design start-ups. A start-up is an organization with a business-plan that has the aim of growing. A design start-up as any other start-up has to have a starting business plan. This could consist of one’s own savings, private investors (angels), government funding (for example EU funding), crowd funding (such as that coming from a collection like Kick starter) or from family savings.

Unlike what is generally believed in design environment, the start-uppers (the founder of the start-up) are not always designers. Often there is a mixed organization with designers and people with different experiences, and sometimes none of the start-uppers is a designer.

Israel is the country with the highest percentage of start-ups in the world (one in 1844 citizens according to IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2011). This spirit of the young entrepreneurs who bet on their own business instead of looking for a regular job, is also affecting the field of design.
The financial investments in the design start-ups in Israel have been low so far, if compared to the fields of Information Technology and biotechnologies. Nonetheless, the designers look for inspiration to the winning models of start-ups and get advice from the ‘castaways’ of the technological field, who try to produce their projects aiming at large consumption products.

The mosaic of the several realities in the world of design start-ups in Israel is manifold. I’ll try to give an idea of what it is by collecting the different reports that offer a picture of the various situations that one can encounter in this sector.

Ely Rozenberg is a design teacher in a number of schools, creator and co-editor of promisedesign

The pr-objects from the age of Adhocracy

Abstract: ‘Adhocracy' is the exhibition curated by Joseph Grima at the first Istanbul Design Biennial, but more that it is a concept, a tool, a tentative answer to the question of the evolving role of the practical design, the designer and the user-producer in our contemporary society.

In this article the ‘pr-ojects’ described provide some provocative answers to the following questions: Why are we talking about design in Istanbul? How does the open-source system and 3D printing change the production and authorship of objects? How does open-design empower the user? And thus, what are the social and political implications of networking and sharing knowledge of new technologies?

“… this world is carried by your hands. And men, Oh my men!”  (Hikmet, 1954, pp. 45-46)

1. Istanbul Design Biennial

In the so-called post-industrial or third industrial revolution era, as the Economist defined it last April, defining what design is today and what its role in the current context is, has become harder than ever.
Over these two years of preparation for what has become the core of the first Istanbul Design Biennial, promoted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), it has been possible to activate a great many discussions with a range of individuals on both a local and international level.
With its vibrant energy, its multiplicity of activities, its contradictions and astonishing undefinable beauty, Istanbul is the embodiment of the general theme ‘Imperfection’ proposed by Dejan Sudijc.
Symposiums, workshops, parallel events and the two main exhibitions – ‘Musibet’ (from the Turkish for catastrophe) curated by Emre Arolat at the Istanbul Modern and ‘Adhocracy’ curated by Joseph Grima at the Galata Greek Elementary School – have tried to engage a wide range of people and to plunge them into an understanding of the chaos, the countless layers of the city, its multiple viewpoints as well as the blurring of boundaries among disciplines, the emergence of co-producers of information, objects, projects and initiatives that characterize the glocal arena of Istanbul.
This article will focus purely on the ‘Adhocracy’ exhibition curated by Joseph Grima and its international curatorial team made up of Elian Stefa, Ethal Baraona Pohl, Pelin Tan and Maurizio Bortolotti.
Starting from this exercise in co-operation, helps us to identify the common denominator of Adhocracy, but it does much more than this too.
Grima identifies the concept of adhocracy as opposed to bureaucracy, hierarchical economic systems and centralized political management. On the contrary ‘Adhocracy’ questions the limitations and rigidity of these systems and proposes alternative, hybrid bottom-up and top-down production practices.
Design is – once integrated with other disciplines – a way to propose new solutions and raise awareness on our rights. At the same time, the exhibition is conceived of as an open work in progress platform and aims to host seminars and to push forward discussions on some of the crucial issues of our contemporary society.

2. Process demonstration
In order to give you a general overview of the projects displayed in ‘Adhocracy’, and a better understand of them, and, at the same time, problematize the exhibition concept, I will summarise some of the requirements announced in the open call launched on the 14th of february 2012:

“We are looking for projects that:
– empower others through self-produced and collaborative design;
– experiment with innovative methodologies of manufacturing and production;
– are born from or rely on networks;
– push the boundaries of the open-source movement and their implications for everyday life;
– combine traditional techniques and know-how with new tools and technologies;
– have no author or too many authors to be counted
– challenge and push the boundaries of the accepted definition of design” (Grima, 2012, pp.88-89).

Therefore the exhibition itself moves very faraway from being the usual object-centred design exhibition and even when we do look at objects/machines or devices we do so in order to comprend the processes behind them and beyond to the actions which the user can easily learn from or contribute to. More than that these projects are central to the redefinition of the professional and cultural role of the designer today.
We can start by analysing the structure of the objects, as Jesse Howard demonstrates in Trasparent tools in which she proposes a set of household appliances – toaster, coffee grinder, vacuum cleaner – that users can produce, modify and repair by downloading a grid format containing plans for the single parts of the device from the OpenStructures system. At the same time this construction system aims to create a network of component user-producers in order to promote processes of co-creation.
Another project based on the sharing and social nature of Web 2.0 is the Open Source Ecology platform founded in 2003 by a group of activist farmers and scientists working in Ohio, who presented their Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), affordable equipment for the construction of over fifty OS industrial machines. On show in the exhibition is LifeTrac III, a low-cost and multipurpose open source tractor, which can be constructed in six days.
Open source projects are not only defining new methods of production and interaction among designers and users. As John Thackara’s (2011, pp. 44-45) argues “openness is more than a commercial and cultural issue. It’s a matter of survival”, as some of the Arduino-based devices show.
The cheap microcontroller board, created in 2005 at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, has spawned a wide range of interactive products to satisfy personal needs.
Tacit by Steve Hoefer, Grathio Labs, for example, is an easy to assemble Arduino-based, hand-mounted navigation device for the visually impaired that measures the distance between objects (from 2 m to 3.5 m) rapidly and translates that into pressure on the wrist.
We are all aware that Arduino should be taught in high schools, expecially after having seen Alarma Sismos, a seismograph built with a Arduino microprocessor, the personal invention of Sebastian Alegria, a 14-year-old Chilean boy, which sends out automatic twitter alerts on seismic activity.
Some of these projects reflect the important theme of the interaction between craft and digital production with 3D printers and, whether we like it or not, sooner or later, we will be surrounded by the latter.
Essentially this paradigm shift, which is not yet easily perceptible, implies that we (both designers and potential user/producers) have to try to come up with different ways of thinking about the design of things, which will lead us to a deeper understanding of their inner structures and raise our awareness also on their material composition.
According to Neri Oxman, professor of Media Art&Science and director of the MIT Media LAB, 3D printing is bringing about a revolution in design – equivalent to Gutenberg’s invention of the movable-type press – which will lead to greater democratization of information and production of objects.

The Belgian studio Unfold, in collaboration with Turkish ceramists such as Tulya Madra & Firat Aykaç of Santimetre and Mustafa Canyurt of Istanbul, presents the open-source 3D printing project Stratigraphic Manufactory, from which 3D produced objects in pottery (mainly bowls and vases) are exhibited in a mock-up of a traditional craft shop in the near-by district of Şişhane and displayed in cases facing the windows with the Artisan électronique workshop in the background. Here Unfold explores the tension between handicraft and digital clay products.

By Unfold once more, this time the production of 3D printed objects becomes Kiosk 2.0, a mobile cart that questions the immediacy, flexibility and accessibility of this kind of production in the realm of public space. By accessing an open-source database of scanned digital models Kiosk 2.0 allows users to print false copies of iconic design objects (such as Aalto’s vase) and customize them according to their preferences.
Another particularly interesting interdisciplinary project that connects 3D manufacturing technology, architecture, food design and public space is Street Food Printing by José Ramon Tramoyeres, Paco Morales, Luis Fraguada and Deniz Manisalı, who have started experimenting with Fused Deposition machine deposits (usually known for prototyping plastic) for food stamps, such as chocolate or cheese, in some of Morales’ avant-garde dishes.

This project was exhibited for the first time at the “Future in the Making” fair, curated once again by Joseph Grima, at the Salone del Mobile, but for this Biennial, the designers were invited to modify it to the city context and involve people outside the exhibition space as well. So the initial food printing project became the futuristic cart Street Food Printing.
In fact, if you walk out into the streets of Istanbul, you will notice and be overwhelmed by the lively activities and informal street trades that are taking place in the streets, like Ayşe E. Coşkun Orlandi (2007, pp. 150-153), for example, describing the Biscuit seller (Tahtakale in Turkish, and the craft-assembled pushchair adapted for selling biscuits) both of which are their projects.
Unfortunately this article has had to leave out many other inspiring projects, but two of them represent the historic reference points particularly well: one is Re-reading Giancarlo De Carlo by Autlab and the other is Proposta per un’autoproduzione (Propos al for an Auto-project) by Enzo Mari (1974).
In the first one, Autlab, a collective of Roman architects, lays claim to the present day value of De Carlo’s polyhedric ideas, such as the social responsibility of architects in involving citizens in the design process – the inhabitants of Terni in the Villaggio Matteotti project for example – and thus empowering them, or his reflections in the review Spazio e Società on society as a machine in which buildings, objects and people mutually interact in the making of everyday life.

On the other hand, Mari’s lesson comes from a set of sixteen basic pieces of furniture in wood and the exhibition catalogue entitled Proposta per un’Autoproduzione, which became a sort of manifesto and political statement for the self-producing, do-it-yourself movement, while at the same time criticising the passive role of the consumer which the design industry of the day imposed.

3. Conclusions

Returning to the physical location of the exhibition and its theme, I would like to close with a provocative remark. In 2004 Richard Florida argued that economic development is strongly related to the 3 Ts which are: technology, talent (creativity) and tolerance.
Today Istanbul is not yet a 3 Ts city, but Florida foresees that in 2050 it will become one of the leading metropolises in the world, alongside Mumbai and San Paolo, where hopefully more Adhocratic practices will challenge the country’s weighty bureaucracy and top-down decision making processes.
Finally I will borrow the ironic and provocative manifesto of the Trading Station project, by Post, the Liverpool-Istanbul based group of female artistes, which declares: “Sharing destroys ownership of a product. Share information”. Prophet Muhammed also said: “Whoever is asked about a knowledge that he knows about and then hides in and keeps it away, he will be bridled on the day of judgments with a bridle of fire.”

Teresita Scalco, Università Iuav di Venezia, Science of Design, currently visiting researcher at SALT, Istanbul

Acknowledgments: This paper would not have been possible without the inspiring conversation and ideas shared with Joseph Grima, Luis E. Fraguada, Pelin Tan, Canay Tunçer and Moira Valeri to whom I wish to thanks deeply.


Coşkun Orlandi, A. (2007). Spontaneous Design in Istanbul, in Abitare, n. 472. Milan, pp. 150-153.

Florida, R. L., (2005). Cities and the creative class. New York, NY, London, UK. Routledge.

Grima, J. (2012, edited by). Adhocracy, catalogue exhibition of the Istanbul Design Biennial,  vol.3, Istanbul: IKSV, pp. 88-89.

Hikmet, N. (1954), Of your hands and their lies, in ‘Poems’, trans. Ali Yunus, New York: Masses & Mainstream, pp. 45-46.

Thackara J. (2011). Into the Open. In van Abel B., Evers L., Klaassen R., Troxler P. (editors) Open design now. Why design cannot remain exclusive. Amsterdam, H: BIS Publishers, pp. 44-45.

Trading Station newspaper, issue 2, publieshed 7 September 2012, available on-line at Share!, Trading Station project by POST (n.d.). [Retrieved November, 10, 2012 from]

Editorial #09

PAD #9, the first issue in 2013, deals with matter very hot to young designers, researchers and design scholars: the evolution of design-production relationship.

In the digital era, the world travels at a very high, yet sometimes uneven, speed, and finance introduces turbulence shaking markets with unseen violence, while technology offers unbelievable opportunities of communicating and producing. How, in this context, does design practice and its relationship with production change? How does production innovate?

We put these questions to our network of correspondents throughout the Mediterranean world, and they came back proposing interesting cases, each peculiarly meaningful of a changing reality.

Many of them replied: Ely Rozenberg reports about the numerous start-ups phenomenon in Israel; Teresita Scalco about projects presented at the AdHocracy exhibition, recently held within the Istanbul Design Biennial, and their relationship with technologies; Gianni Di Matteo enters the discussion about the ‘adhocracy’ concept and its roots, telling about ‘adhocism’ as ‘the art of improvisation’ and the makers community in Africa, especially in Egypt; Ana Perković reports about design self-production in Croatia.

In the From section we also publish some interesting explorations, like: C. Bissas, V. Asfi and L. Angelou, from Greece, propose the Inaugural Flight of the papairlines sharing platform; the academic research taking place between Turkey and Italy, aimed at contributing to sustainable evolution of the agro-industrial system, which is, as known, one of the most important production systems for the development of the Mediterranean area and the whole world, as per directions of Horizon 2000, the EC tool supporting research and innovation in the 2014-2020 timeframe.

The Close Up sections offers a pragmatic reading of design-industry relationship in Italy, by means of a chronicle and three interviews to as many famous designers working in Italy, in order to understand the meaning of current situation and the re-emerging of self-production (more akin to design in Italian) phenomena.

The Reportage section, besides the usual appointment with Fabio’s eye, places some graphic and photographic readings of current events side by side with topics covered in the issue.

As a due comment, the answer to the questions we asked ourselves about the evolution of the design-production relationship comes mostly from the young design people. I say people because it’s a more and more numerous and global group, giving life to a digital and connected community, sharing tools, rules and values as well, informing social, collaboration and creative practices.

The world of internet and technologies, and their potential, is the preferred place by young people for experimenting, sharing open systems and co-working. This is perhaps such a difficult world to understand, for those who don’t live in it, but it-s the which will give a shape to the near future.

Young designers, self-producers, post-industrial craftsmen, makers, hacktivist, backyard inventors show an attitude to opening and sharing knowledge revealing a significant difference with recent traditions, in contrast to the design-firm world, which generated in Italy from the 80’s, after denying the ’68 ideologies.

Within project practice, young designers don’t restrict their competence to the aesthetical, morphological, typological and functional perspective of products, instead they open themselves to contaminations with different techniques, arts and disciplines. In this way, they carry on spontaneous processes of continuing experimentation rather than wait for the customer. This way if working in nowadays technological scenario stimulates the capability to redefine production strategies, as well as trigger self-organized and interactive processes, where the idea of process itself and the contribution of different skills become a new, flexible content, meeting to the needs of the preferred counterpart: society.

Young designers prove to drive change and innovation in all cases we’ve explored, although not always they are champions of entrepreneurship, enterprise or social-at-large development.Vision and design abilities is not enough anymore, management skills are required. And on this wish goes our greeting for the new year!

Cover photo: Studio mischer’traxler, Gradient Mashrabiya Sideboard. Photo © Fabio Gambina

Monkey business design Israel

Owner: Oded Friedland

Brand/ start up name: Monkey business design Israel Ltd

Product: ‪We focus on developing original, innovative, affordable gift items.‬ Our company handles development, production and distribution.

Type of organization: Family firm.

Partners: Oded Friedland (age 45), founder of Oded, industrial designer and Omri Friedland (age 47). ‪Oded is responsible for the creative side of things, and manages product development.‬ Omri studied economics in the Tel-Aviv University, worked in the music Industry in the UK for a decade and joined Oded as a full partner in 2002, taking over the business and financial sides of things, turning the struggling design studio into a thriving business.‬ Omri handles the international clients, finance and logistics.‬

When and how did the project originate?  Oded was founded in 1994, after graduating in Industrial design at the Bezalel Art and Design Academy, in Jerusalem where he is now teaching a course on Design Entrepreneurship.‬ The frustration of trying and failing to sell my designs and ideas to other companies, led me to a decision to try and do it myself.

How much did you invest to start the company? Step by step, I used funds that I brought in from design services to invest in developing and marketing my own products.‬

Who invested the money? ‪Mum & Dad‬

How far have you gone with the project?  ‪We have been in the business for almost 20 years, and have established the brand in the international design trade and society.‬

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product?  Each step is a development, but we have had several small leaps over the years related to products that generated growth, the first leap was Dolica in 1999, the second was the Doorganizer in 2005. Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up It’s a long and winding road, with many ups and downs, and over the years we had our motivation breakdowns, due to product failures or financial difficulties, but we always had the belief, the patience, the perseverance and the family back up, to make it work.‬

What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs?  I would recommend small beginnings, with the first products the learning curve is very steep, there are so many mistakes to be made and so much to learn even with the simplest of products, so before you step into deeper waters, tread some shallow ones.‬ I would also recommend a business partner to every creative individual, the creative energy collides with doing the business side of things, it is very difficult to do both, and most creative are bad at business, let someone else do the ‘dirty’ work for you.‬ What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs 
‪You must be very passionate for what you are doing, so choose territories that really interest you and that you enjoy working on hour by hour day by day, this is what will provide the energy and motivation to pass the difficult times.‬

Luka Knezevic Strika for Sinestezija

This year’s Festival Sinestezija continued to spread creative energy, this time exploring the ‘Exotica’ theme. This year’s fest outlasted the 2011’s by three days and the program included exhibitions, performances, workshops, multimedia shows, music concerts. It completely transformed the Old town of Herceg Novi into an  exotic playground, with guests from Montenegro and the whole region.

This photo reportage tells a story about Sinestezija 2012 viewed through the eyes of the official photographer of the festival Luka Knezevic Strika, who had lots of success in showing the true spirit of the festival, taking part in it and at the same time being absolutely invisible while catching these memorable moments. Known for his professional as well as his personal projects, he is a member of a photography collective called Belgrade Raw which explores Belgrade through photography. –

Walk on Map

Owner: Eli Jacobson, industrial designer.

Brand/ start up name: Walk on Map

Product: Flip-flops with city maps on them.

Type of organization: individual firm.

When and how did the project originate? I went back to Israel after a long stay in Milan. I opened a design studio dealing with project services. On the hundredth anniversary of Tel Aviv I wanted to create a product that mirrored the spirit of the city: its colours, rhythm and humour.

How much did you invest to start the company? 8000 Euros

Who invested the money? Myself

How far have you gone with the project? After its success in Tel Aviv I obtained the copyright to use the official map of New York, and started to export to the USA. At the moment I’m working on customer-made orders and on new projects.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? In the moment in which I had the idea I already knew it was doable and I started to look for suppliers and factories for the production.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up? No, there hasn’t.

What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs? You have to think about simple productions, never neglect marketing, branding and selling at the beginning. To have only a good idea is not enough. The success of your product depends on your ability to produce a finished product, distribute it and sell it at the right price.

Studio Ve

Owner: Shai Carmon (34 anni), Ben Klinger (28 anni), both gradued.

Brand/start up name: Studio Ve.

Product: We are a design studio. Our first project was a wall clock.

Type of organization: We deal with all the different phases of the process, from the idea, to the production, marketing and distribution. We set up a website for online shopping and we even delivery to the shops in Israel.

When and how did the project originate?  The idea was born during my design studies at HIT (Holon Institute of Technology). Shai did an MA in Mathematics and his dissertation was about, among other things, the Riemann Surface. The concept of the clock was inspired by Riemannian Manifold ( To explain this concept I use the example of a winding staircase. If we look from the side and we see a person climbing the stairs, it looks as if the person is going to the left and then to the right. But if we look from the top we can see the person walking in circles.

How much did you invest to start the company?  The first series containing 2000 pieces cost 12.000,00 euros, for the production of the plastic matrixes and the raw materials, of which we bought a huge amount in order to cut the costs.

Who invested the money?  We made a video and we collected some funds on, a platform for group funding. The video explains the concept and the reasons for investing in it. We got support from all over the world in exchange for a free clock. The funds collection lasted for a month and we got 29.000,00 euros from 650 web surfers, of which only 14 were from Israel. We advertised on 50 different sites. Kickstarter is only opened to those who have a fiscal position in the USA or in the UK. But there are other platforms such as indiegogo.

How far have you gone with the project?  Having already sold 2000 pieces, we are now working on the second edition. We sold a big stock to a US client who works in the field of gift items. We’re working on a new product in order to widen the clock series.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product?  When we got the samples for plastic injection fro China, then we realized it was a real product. The duplication into thousands of pieces gives you a totally different feeling from the one-off or the limited edition.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up?  Luckily there weren’t any critical moments in which we would have liked to give up. When you work in pair, the project is split between the two and this makes the workload lighter during a crisis. There have been difficult moments though, when we didn’t know whether we would have managed to reach our goals but in the end everything went well, despite some delays.

What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs?  We only recommend to try and dare! This is the moment to make all your mistakes in order to learn and to not repeat them in the future.
manifold clock on kickstarter

Studio Itai Bar-On

Owner: Itai e Aharon Bar On

Brand/ start up name: Studio Itai Bar-On

Product: Coating, furniture and lighting systems made to measure, especially made of concrete.

Type of organization: Family firm.

Partners: CEO Aviram Bar On; assembling responsible: Idan Bar On

When and how did the project originate?  I had the idea while I was studying Industrial Design at university; it was my final dissertation project. My father owns a building company and we always had concrete sacks at the back of our house. During a course at the Shenkar College of Engineering & Design I used the concrete and fell in love with it. I liked to create a clash, a conceptual clash, between soft and hard.

How much did you invest to start the company? 60.000,00 Euros.

Who invested the money? The Keren Shemesh Fund for young entrepreneurs. Obviously I also put in my own savings and my father helped me, too.

How far have you gone with the project? With time and experience I got to know the matter in depth and I tried to push it beyond its performance limits. Recently I developed a special technology for curvy handicrafts in concrete mortar that I presented at the last Salone del Mobile di Milano, in the Ventura area.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? After a year of development and economical investment I felt I was ready to go out in the market as a designer with my products.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up? As we are a young firm and this is a difficult time, there are moments of crisis. But this is the destiny of those who choose to be independent. I would have never given up my project.

What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs? My advice to the young and ambitious entrepreneurs is to stay faithful to their ‘beliefs’ and never stop working hard. Never listen to those who try to demoralize you or who do not encourage you.


Owner: Nimrod Riccardo Sapir, Industrial Designer

Brand/start up name:  MYWAY EV LTD

Product: Electric Foldable Scooter.

Type of organization: Limited series production. We are working on a second edition of scooters.

Partners: Oran Walach, MBA in economics and marketing, and Mr. Dov Meirzon, mechanical engineer.

When and how did the project originate? After I was made redundant by a start-up that developed transformable stroller bicycle I had an idea for my own start-up. So I projected and electric bending scooter that can fit into a backpack. A year later, having not found any investors, I decided to start anyway by making a simple product, even simpler than the initial idea.

How much did you invest to start the company? About 310.000,00 euros, including the costs for the design patent and my salary. For the production of the first 100 pieces we used about  55.000,00 euros.

Who invested the money? My family, friends and I after obtaining bank loans.

How far have you gone with the project? We are working towards a turning point for production and mass distribution. We assemble the scooters and we market them in our exhibitory space.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? Never. I’m joking. 18 months ago, when the sales started.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up? Every other day, especially today. I can’t sleep at night, because I worry about work.

What is your advice for young design entrepreneurs? Do not invest too much, start small and verify that it works. The important thing is to have a flexible mind. Do not trust anybody; only trust yourselves. At the same time, do not fall in love with your idea. Never give up!

Guy Mishaly design studio

Owner: Guy Mishaly

Brand/start up name: Guy Mishaly design studio

Product: Blast chair by explosion.

When and how did the project originate? The studio was established 1 year ago, right after I graduated the product design studies at the Bezalel Academy of arts and design, in Jerusalem, Israel.
The studio focuses on designing furniture, light fixtures, and space for companies and private consumers.

Blast chairs by explosion was my graduation project at the Bezalel Institute.
The starting point to this project was how to navigate energy, creating by manipulating energy that is naturally used to harm and destroy.
Another goal was to invent a system that in the same way of use will always provide different results.
All of the above got me to this project, where I create basic boxes and cylinders from 1mm of steel sheet metal and by locating explosives (looks like electric cables, filled up with explosive material) around them in specific locations and pushing a button that detonates the explosive material, the metal rips and folds into a stool. No material disappears or blows away. The weight of the box before the explosion and the weight of the stool that comes out are the same. The box becomes a stool with seat and legs by the explosion itself and there is nothing done to it after. That’s the way it comes out. There will never be 2 stools that are identical.

How much did you invest to start the company? Getting into such a project required a beginning amount of 4000 Euros.

Who invested the money? Myself

How far have you gone with the project? Blast was made in a small series of 12 pieces.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? The research was the main part of the project. When the first chair came out by the correct recipe after months of negative results and dozens of explosions, that’s when

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up?  I realized I reached the product-the goal I was aiming for.
 Sitting on the first chair made me realize that in the art & design world, there is no such thing as “not possible”.


Brand/start up name: Greenbo

Product: Innovative products for gardening. Our first product is a vase-flower box for balcony balustrades.

Type of organization: Design start-up. The company was born three years ago. It produces and markets its products in Israel and abroad.

The partners are: Maya Golan, a lawyer who deals with the legal sector and the sales; Meir Haklay, a Judo school manager, is responsible for the company development; Avi Youlus, engineer and lawyer, is responsible for the economic area; Roy Joulus, studied design at Ascola Meimeid College, has a BA in business economics, is responsible for the sales and marketing (35 years old).

When and how did the project originate? We started developing the idea in 2006. Then, in 2008 we left our jobs in the Hi-tech field. The idea originated from the wish to cultivate green in small flats in Tel Aviv, even in small balconies where there is no space for earth and vases. After many trials on the vase suspension, we put together two old flower boxes and set them astride on a balustrade with the help of a metallic rest, which became rusty though. It was right then that we got the idea of a strong plastic vase in a wide range of colours, one and twofold, which could be put astride any balustrade. So from a banal vase it became a design piece.

How much did you invest to start the company? Dozens of thousands of euros.

Who insteded the money? We invested our savings. I (Roy) collected my parents’ pension fund and we started some mortgages on our flats and then we obtained other loans. The Keren Shemesh fund for young innovative entrepreneurs really helped us, both as a mentor and with a loan.

How far have you gone with the project? We distribute to about 500 nursery gardens, design shops, flower shops and supermarket chains in Israel, Europe (Carrefour, Casino, Castorama), the United States (The Home Depot, Commerce Corporation), in Australia and Latin America we have distributors and agents.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? It happened when the first series came out, when we saw the products coming out of the matrixes and we started wrapping them, all night long. In that moment it was clear that the adventure had started.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up? There always are moments of crisis on the way. When the activity grows, the risk of losing everything rises, but we never considered giving up. The people working at Greenbo know how to deal with hardships. This awareness reinforced our association.

A handbook for young design entrepreneurs?

  1. The organizing phase is the longest and the most important. Here you have to understand if your enterprise is competitive, risky and how many resources it needs.
  2. Identify your weaknesses. You need to fill in these spaces with a partner who can complement your skills; otherwise you’ll have to face everything by yourselves with a big effort.
  3. Choose a subject you’re passionate about. Entrepreneurship requires many hours of our daily life. If you don’t like what you do you won’t be able to develop the activity in the course of time.
  4. An entrepreneur sacrifices a lot of his private life, a lot more than any employee. Nobody will do what you don’t do.
  5. Do not fall in love with your products. An objective point of view is the instrument, which allows us to learn from our mistakes and to mend them.
  6. The customer is always right. The company exists thanks to its customers. Keep in touch with your customers.
  7. Ask and learn from other people, because you don’t know everything. If you don’t become expert in your field, your clients will notice it and you’ll lose them.
  8. Find an organization to guide and assist you in the beginning. In Israel the Keren Shemesh fund is a non-profit organization providing professional support and loans to new companies.
  9. Try to grow an ‘elephant skin’ for the difficult moments, but stay humble and balanced even when things are going at full sail.
  10. The world is made of people, not products. Behind every activity there are the people. Develop contacts and create collaborations. A planted seed today will give its fruits tomorrow.

Anything else? In July 2012 Greenbo won the Red dot Award (product design winner). Moreover Greenbo also won the second YBI prize (The Prince’s Youth Business International), a contest founded by the Prince of Wales and Barclays bank for the young innovative firms.