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Posts in category 'Turin'

28 September 2007

The spime arrives

Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling is now living in Torino, Italy and will stay here, together with his wife, Serbian author and film-maker Jasmina Tesanovic, until the end of March 2008.

He is here at the invitation of the Regional Government of Piedmont to be the guest curator of the Piemonte Share Festival (11-16 March 2008).

Last night he presented the Italian translation of his book “Shaping Things” in a public lecture and discussion.

He also showed the audience a highly entertaining video of what he images the world of “spimes” to be like.

Discussants were Andrea Bairati (Regione Piemonte Councillor), Luca De Biase (Chief editor Nòva 24 /Il Sole 24Ore) and Claudio Germak (Politecnico di Torino – Word Design Capital Torino 2008) . The conference was moderated by Simona Lodi and Chiara Garibaldi (Share Festival).

Though many topics were addressed, I think the most relevant one is a challenge — for us, for this region and for Bruce too: if Bruce is right in his thinking about spimes and the entire change of thinking and doing it will entail, then what could be a typical Italian positioning in this new social, economic and cultural paradigm?

I hope that in the next six months, the people here in Torino, with the input and ideas of Bruce, can start outlining some initial answers to that question.

To be continued.

13 September 2007

Bruce Sterling lecture in Torino, Italy

Shaping_things
Bruce Sterling will be speaking on his recent book “Shaping Things” in Torino, Italy on Thursday 27 September at 6pm. The event will take place at the “Circolo dei Lettori” [Readers Club].

Sterling [wikipedia - blog] is an American science fiction writer and highly acclaimed futurist thinker and design critic.

He will be living in Torino for the next eight months, “helping out” with the Torino SHARE festival, do his customary blogging and novel writing, cover the design scene for the US press, and also write some contributions (we hope) for the Torino 2008 World Design Capital website.

His book “Shaping Things” [now also available in Italian as "La Forma del Futuro"] introduced the term “spimes” for future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.

At the event there will also be interventions by Andrea Bairati (Piedmont Regional Government Deputy for Universities, Research, Innovation and International Relations), Luca de Biase (director of the NOVA supplement of the Sole 24 Ore newspaper), and Claudio Germak (Polytechnic University of Torino and Torino World Design Capital). It will be moderated by Chiara Garibaldi and Simona Lodi, who are in charge of the Piedmont Share Festival.

26 August 2007

Bruce Sterling writes ‘dispatches from the hyperlocal future’ for Wired Magazine

hyperlocal
Bruce Sterling has written a number of “Dispatches from the hyperlocal future” for Wired’s July 2007 issue.

The fictional dispatches dated 2017, have the writer post from Turin (“Torino” in Italian), Milan, Dubai, Mumbai and Washington, DC.

As per usual with Bruce, it is dense and highly entertaining prose, virtually untranslatable, and difficult to quote from. Here is a quote about the hyperlocal web:

“You see, the difference between the old-fashioned semantic Web and the new hyperlocal Web — that’s hyper as in linked, and local as in location — is that the databases of the new Web are stuffed with geographic coordinates. Real positions. Real distances. So the bodyware I carry in my pockets and travel bag broadcasts its location to any device within earshot. (Of course, the RFID chips embedded in everything help the manufacturer get it out the door, but I programmed my own tags so I can’t lose anything.) Roomware — that’s houseware to you troglodytes who still live in houses — is the stuff that runs a hotel room. You know, the remotes that control temperature and unlock the liquor cabinet, plus the window overlay that displays the weather forecast and traffic conditions. Streetware is my mobile’s navigator, plus social tags, ad filters, and all those black-and-white barcode blotches painted on walls like graffiti. Cityware is the next scale up. That’s how the local government monitors traffic, chases down leaky water mains, and keeps tourists on the straight and narrow. Stateware, nationware, globalware — you get the idea.”

In the middle of the long piece, you can even find a visual demo for the Sensicast-Tranzeo 3000. (The article also introduces the Samsung-Olivetti SeeMonster, “a hefty Italo-Korean interactive designer coffee table with an eight-handed, 40-fingered 3-D touchscreen”.

Nice too is Bruce’s image of the Torino of the future:

“Torino worked hard on changing their public image by installing the Zone. Torino used to be the “Detroit of Italy,” but some of its derelict Fiat assembly plants have been turned into city-subsidized creative-class hangouts. Big retrofitted lofts, lots of auto-watered greenery, ping-pong tables and massage chairs…. Lots of freeware. You want a bicycle, you just beep at it and take it. Free Italian movies every night, right up on sides of buildings.

In Torino’s cyber-district, you get your basic Euro-trash laptop gypsies, some installation artists, robotics freaks, do-it-yourself makers, raffish free-software fanatics — stir continuously and feed with cheap spaghetti. Result: a classic Euro-bohemian ferment. It’s like a garage sale Ars Electronica that runs all year.”

Enjoy.

25 August 2007

A gorgeous cinematic introduction to Turin, Italy

Turin
Even for those who don’t understand Italian, this is quite a spectacular introduction to Turin (or “Torino”), Italy, and its surrounding region.

The videos are shot in gorgeous high definition quality by the Turin movie director Luciano De Simone and narrated by Carlo Massarini (who was also responsible for the highly entertaining videos in the excellent Turin Museum of the Mountains).

Eventually the site, which was produced for the Italian Ministry of Culture, will introduce a number of Italian cities but for now the only one online is Turin, the city where I live.

Structured in nine chapters, accessible via a horizontal menu on the bottom, the series includes:
- a general introduction to the city;
- Piazza Carignano, which introduces some of the historic centre, Italy’s first parliament (Turin was Italy’s capital from 1861 to 1864), the Egyptian Museum, the role of the theatre in the city, Piedmont food, the Langhe region, and the culture of the “aperitivo” in Turin;
- Turin and the movies, focused of course on the Mole Antonelliana, site of the cinema museum;
- Turin from the Balôn to the Murazzi, which introduces various neighbourhoods such as the Balôn area where the city’s flea market takes place;
- Lingotto, the former FIAT factory, now a mixed-use facility with a conference centre, a commercial centre, a museum, a hotel, and a cinema;
- Italia ’61, one of the sites of the Olympic Winter Games of 2006;
- From the Dora to the Docks, focused on the new uses given to old industrial buildings;
- The heart of the city, introduced as a historic but lively centre;
- Turin nightlife.

The interface is quite simple: the “+” sign gives you a larger image, “link utili” provides you with links to what you just saw, and “mobile” allows you to download the movie files.

The site is not at all interactive though: the only thing you can do is watch. Another concern I have is that the creators did not add (optional) English subtitles, which would have not been so difficult to do. Graphically, the meaning of the bar code design element is beyond me.

But it is beautiful. Enjoy.

25 August 2007

Share Award: digital art prize 2008 competition announcement

Share Festival
Piemonte Share Festival announces the second edition of the Share Prize 2008 for digital art.

The competition jury, chaired by Bruce Sterling, will award a prize of 2,500 Euro to the work (published or unpublished) which best represents experimentation between arts and new technologies.

The contest is open to any Italian and foreign artist using digital technology as a language of creative expression, in all its shapes and formats and in combination with analogical technologies and/or any other material (i.e. computer animation / visual effects, digital music, interactive art, net art, software art, live cinema/vj, audiovisual performance, etc.).

(via Bruce Sterling’s Viridian Design, embellished with Bruce’s personal commentary)

11 August 2007

Rapid manufacturing’s role in the factory of the future

Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Two years ago Bruce Sterling wrote in his book Shaping Things: “We can define ‘fabricators’ as a likely future development of the devices known today as ’3-D printers’ or ‘rapid prototypers’. The key to understanding the fabricator is that it radically shortens the transition from a 3-D model to a physical actuality. A fabricator in a SPIME world is a SPIME that makes physical things out of virtual plans, in an immediate, one-step process.”

It’s happening already, according to this Design News article:

Greg Morris doesn’t spend much time wondering about the factory of the future. He already runs it.

His company, Morris Technologies, specializes in tough-to-manufacture metal components for aerospace, medical and industrial applications. At first glance, Morris seems to operate a conventional machine shop full of high-end CNC machines. Next to the machine tools, though, Morris quietly runs a bank of EOS direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS) machines, which build up parts from successive layers of fused metal powder.

With six machines, Morris has the world’s highest concentration of DMLS capacity. And he has been using those machines not just to make prototypes but also to turn out production parts. It’s a practice that goes by many names — including rapid manufacturing, direct digital manufacturing, solid freeform fabrication and low-volume-layered manufacturing. All of the names refer to the use of additive fabrication technologies, which were initially intended for prototyping, to make finished goods, instead. Morris believes additive fabrication systems will soon occupy an increasingly prominent space on our shop floors. “We’re on the verge of a revolution in how things are made,” he says.

This is also the right time to add another category to Putting People First: mechatronics (under “Business”). It is a term that was recently re-introduced by Donald Norman, and I add it as a category because I think it is particularly relevant to the city where I live (Turin, Italy) with its great and very high-end mechanical engineering tradition – and therefore also for any other engineering-focused economy.

8 August 2007

Turin 2008 on Italian slow design, Irish design innovation and doing good

Slow Food
Three new articles on the website of Turin 2008, World Design Capital (all written or edited by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken):

slow+design – interview with Giacomo Mojoli, Slow Food spokesman
Slow Food, the international ethical movement about good, clean and fair food, has been working a lot lately on developing a slow approach to design (see my earlier report on a small international conference on this topic last year in Milan). Last week I interviewed Giacomo Mojoli to get a better understanding of this initiative. Interestingly he speaks a lot about the meaning of strategic design, service design, experience design and sustainable sensoriality, and raises some controversial ideas about the importance of imperfection, limitation and technological restraint in our design thinking.

Doing Good and Doing Better
Nik Baerten of Belgian foresight consultancy Pantopicon writes about how the design-world appears to be especially active in upping the stakes on doing good.

Center for Design Innovation, Ireland
Then there is also an article by myself setting out the vision behind the Centre for Design Innovation, which is at the heart of a ten-year strategy to push design up the business agenda in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Their approach is all based on user-centred innovation.

27 July 2007

slow+design, examining the slow approach to design

unisg
The new “Food for Thought” journal of Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences examines the slow approach to design. The entire contents in Italian and English are available to any one who completes the free registration. You can also order a printed copy.

In the article “Beyond Food Design to a Sustainable Sensoriality” (Italian version), Giacomo Mojoli, vice-president of Slow Food International, contemplates what it means to mutually contaminate the sphere of food sensoriality with the wider one of material, manufacturing and creative sensoriality:

“Slow Food is one of these paradigms, a sort of strategic design project, a network prototype, applied to the world of food, agriculture and food education. Slow Food proposed a vision, a way of thinking and acting which by now has gone beyond food to inspire a new and eco-compatible way of conceiving development and economy, on a local as much as a global scale.”

Mojoli sees the objectives of Slow Food’s new slow+design initiative as to “reunite the quality of products with that of the environment and the social forms which generate them” and to “cross the experience of Slow Food with that of those who study and promote the new economy of social networks, the so-called distributed economy, and those who, in the practical and cultural ambit of design, are concerned with the quality of products, services and communications.”

The Slow Model: A Strategic Design Approach” (Italian version) is the title of the second article on the topic by Ezio Manzini (blog) and Anna Meroni of the Milan Polytechnic. They provide a more in-depth analysis of the relation between strategic design and the slow approach. They argue that a new sustainability can arise out of this innovative union, with a rigorous sensibility towards the environment, the quality of life and daily rhythms which can be integrated into the planning of spaces and objects.

“A slow approach means first of all the simple (but in these times revolutionary) affirmation that it is not possible to produce and appreciate quality without taking the time needed to do so, i.e. if we do not slow down in one way or another.

But slow today doesn’t mean just that; it also means a concrete and practicable way of putting this idea into action. It means cultivating quality by connecting products with producers, with the production sites and with the end users who participate in diverse ways in their definition and thus become co-producers.

The slow approach therefore outlines a model of production and alternative consumption which is both subversive and feasible, a model which confronts head on the ideas and practices of today’s globalization. Nevertheless it can be immediately realized on a local level and, as Slow Food has proven, with success.”

In their long essay, they suggest three strategic directions for the slow+design initiative: localisation and experience, phenomenological quality and sustainability, and skill and self-determination.

To find out more about the slow+design initiative, see this earlier post on Putting People First. In 2004 the New York Times also published a nice feature on the launch of the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

20 July 2007

Nicolas Nova talk now on Google Video

Nicolas Nova video
The video of last week’s talk by Nicolas Nova in Turin is now available on Google Video. The slides are available here (pdf, 1.36mb, 90 slides).

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne and one of the organisers of the LIFT conference.

His talk “Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments” was a critical overview of ubiquitous computing based on current research in the field (showing what people like Paul Dourish or Genevieve Bell are discussing but also geographers such as Stephen Graham), art/start-up/research projects and alternative visions such as what Nicolas is doing with Julian Bleecker.

The talk was organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turin.

(Thanks to Experientia collaborator Haraldur Már Unnarsson for making this possible).

14 July 2007

Slides available of talk by Nicolas Nova in Turin

Nicolas Nova
A few days ago Nicolas Nova, a researcher at the Media and Design Lab at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne and one of the organisers of the LIFT conference, came to visit us in Turin, so Experientia organised a talk for him at the local Order of Architects.

Nicolas Nova reports:

“Currently in Torino, where I gave a talk yesterday organized by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turin. My talk “Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments” was a critical overview of ubiquitous computing based on current research in the field (showing what people like Paul Dourish or Genevieve Bell are discussing but also geographers such as Stephen Graham), art/start-up/research projects and alternative visions such as what I am doing with Julian Bleecker. As I said in the talk, lots of the aspects presented here as design challenges are messy to reflect the complexity of ubicomp design.”

Download pdf (pdf, 1.36 mb, 50 slides)

(We will soon also post a video registration).

12 July 2007

Event highlights of Torino 2008 World Design Capital

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
Torino 2008 World Design Capital just published short summaries of its event highlights (unfortunately below the fold – so they are easy to miss).

They include the Geodesign and Flexibility exhibitions, respectively curated by Stefano Boeri (Italy) and Guta Moura Guedes (Portugal) in the Spring; an international Summer School and a conceptual Olivetti exhibition in the summer; and an week full of events organised by International Houses of Design as well as an exhibition on creativity in car design in the autumn.

The Icograda Design Week will also take place in Turin – after Havana, Seattle and Istanbul – with several exhibitions, conferences and workshops. The year will start off with a spectacular New Year’s Eve event.

6 July 2007

European designers to meet in World Design Capital to promote usability and design

Upa_logo
(Bloomingdale, IL: July 6, 2007) – The first European regional conference of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) will take place in Torino, Italy, named the 2008 World Design Capital. Hundreds of designers and usability specialists are expected to attend.

“The UPA Europe 2008 conference provides a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of usability and user-centered design. These are essential design concepts that European UPA chapters promote in industry, education and government.” said Michele Visciola, UPA European regional conference co-chair and President of the UPA Italy Chapter.

Visciola will co-chair the conference along with Silvia Zimmermann, the International UPA Director of Organizational Outreach and UPA Switzerland board member.

The conference will be held in Torino, Italy, in 2008, when the city will host a large variety of activities as the first-ever World Design Capital – a title it was awarded by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID).

The UPA Europe 2008 conference will focus on usability and design and is expected to take place in October or December 2008. Designers, researchers and usability specialists from around the world will be invited to share and learn about innovative ways to design better products and experiences.

“This conference will demonstrate the design expertise and leadership within the various UPA chapters and usability practitioners throughout Europe,” said Zimmermann.

UPA chapter leaders will soon be invited to nominate UPA Europe 2008 conference committee members to help organize the conference.

(original press release)

4 July 2007

Peter Greenaway and the Savoy experience

First we observe
The Venaria Reale is a spectacular palace from the XVIIth and XVIIIth Century just outside Turin, Italy. It was built as the hunting grounds of the Savoy king – rumours go that the prey was also human and female.

When the royals were deposed just after the Second World War, the Turin population sacked the complex and took everything imaginable and unimaginable along with them. It also served as army barracks and immigrant housing at that time. As one can imagine, only a beautiful shell remained. Luckily the local authorities decided for preservation and a costly renovation is now completed.

When pondering what to do with such an enormous palace (it’s bigger than Buckingham Palace), the Region of Piedmont turned to Peter Greenaway. His project, called “Peopling the Palaces”, will feature five giant projections onto the bare palace walls (the original panelling and paintings were sacked as well), illustrating court life in the 17th and 18th centuries. “Imagine going into Venaria Reale and as it were watching 300 cinema films all at once which all interconnect,” said Peter Greenaway.

From a La Stampa newspaper article today [my translation]:
“The visitors will be welcomed by period actors, real and virtual at the same time, that will introduce them to to the palace, and guide him to the private apartments of the Duke, to the kitchen, and to the hunt. They will also be introduced to the court and to the “flying squadron” of the Savoy house, a formation invented by Caterina de Medici and afterwards copied, a group of 40 luxurious damsels ready to offer their services in exchange for alliances, information and secrets. Greenaway has meticulously documented himself on the period and wrote all the dialogues, which were then translated into and recited in Italian. The dialogues, though historically correct, are absolutely unconventional, and so are the projections which are currently being edited.”

View video of Peter Greenaway describing the project

2 July 2007

Recent stories on the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
A few months ago Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken started doing some writing for the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website, and will continue to do so until the end of 2008.

The site has just been refreshed with an interview with Marie-Josée Lacroix, design commissioner of the City of Montreal; an essay on design and sustainability by Niti Bhan; a short overview of the history of the UK Design Council; and some stories from the international press.

For the first edition of the online magazine, Mark interviewed Ranjit Makkuni, wrote an essay on people-centred design, profiled the Nagoya Design Center, and zoomed in on the thinking of Mike Kuniavsky.

Feel free to contact us (mark followed by experientia dot com) with comments, suggestions, criticisms and proposals.

1 July 2007

Nicolas Nova lectures in Turin, Italy – 12 July

Nicolas Nova
Nicolas Nova, Swiss Federal Research Institute (CH)
Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments

12 July 2007 – 7pm
Order of Architects of the Province of Turin
via G. Giolitti 1 – Torino – 3rd floor

Nicolas Nova will give a critical overview of the evolution towards “hybridised environments”, i.e. mixed physical and digital ecologies, sometimes also identified as media spaces, mixed realities, ubiquitous computing, and lifelogging realities. He will describe the systems as well the underlying technologies needed to support them, with a strong focus on how to best address people’s needs and enhance their lives. Examples such as lab projects, start-up products and art pieces will help outline the main trends and applications to expect in the near future. Nova will discuss the implications of this evolution for designers, architects and engineers on issues such as the user experience, the practice changes and the challenges to be solved.

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne where he completed a Ph.D in human-computer interaction. His research focuses on spatial and location-awareness, location-based, virtual and tangible gaming experiences, and the hybridisation of digital and physical environments. He is a co-producer of the highly acclaimed, and internationally prestigious LIFT conference in Geneva, which this year was attended by over 500 participants. He blogs at Pasta and Vinegar about emerging technologies usage and foresight.

The lecture, which will be in English, is jointly organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turinthe organisation which by the way is also responsible for next year’s UIA World Congress of Architecture. Additional communication support is provided by the design community TURN.

RSVP: architettitorino at awn dot it

2 June 2007

Bruce Sterling moving to Torino, Italy

Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling will be moving to Turin (a.k.a. “Torino”), Italy, starting September – for a period of six to eight months.

Sterling [wikipedia - blog] is an American science fiction writer and highly acclaimed futurist thinker and design critic. His recent book “Shaping Things” introduced the term “spimes” for future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.

As he wrote me, he will be “helping out” with the Torino SHARE festival, do his customary blogging and novel writing, cover the design scene for the US press, and also write some contributions (I hope) for the Torino 2008 World Design Capital website.

He will move to Torino with his wife Jasmina Tešanović [wikipedia - blog], a Serbian author and film maker, who is a fluent Italian speaker and “has a lot to occupy her here”.

The news is already making the rounds here in Torino and there is genuine enthusiasm about it – and this on various levels. Bruce is well known in Italy and many of his books have been translated in Italian.

Ah, Torino lost Régine but gained Bruce.

We will do our best to keep him busy and excited. Welcome Bruce!

19 April 2007

Experientia contributes to Torino 2008

Torino 2008
The new website of Torino 2008 World Design Capital contains an editorial section, managed by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken, with interviews, profiles of design centres, essays and some commented articles from the international press that together provide an international window on Torino 2008.

The monthly interview series features a number of thought-provoking conversations with leading designers or people who have major impact on the design world. The first interview is with Ranjit Makkuni, who is the director of the Sacred World Foundation and the project director of the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum.

Monthly essays explore issues in further depth. The first essay is on people-centred design as a means to affect cultural and social change, and is also written by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken.

The monthly focus on design centres is a contribution to Torino 2008′s theme of design policy, which has the the aim of informing the activities of the Torino Design Centre but also of provoking a debate on what could become a national design policy in Italy. The first featured design centre is the one from Nagoya.

Finally, each month the site will feature an article from the international press. The first one discusses magic as a new metaphor for mobile devices.

19 April 2007

Carlo Ratti and Régine Debatty featured in Ventiquattro magazine

Régine Debatty
Last Saturday (14 April), Carlo Ratti of MIT’s Senseable City Lab and Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art.com were featured in a six page article in Ventiquattro, the magazine of the highly regarded Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore (somewhat comparable to The Wall Street Journal).

Of course, this is delightful news. I have featured Carlo and Régine and their work several times on this blog and I know them both quite well. Each of them has a connection with Torino: Carlo who is originally from the city divides his life between Torino and Boston. Régine has lived in Torino for many years, and moved only recently to Berlin.

The article, with gorgeous photos, is really a double self-portrait featured in a section called “New lifestyles”. They each write about how they live their rather unique lives: Régine as a full-time blogger, and Carlo with a professional architecture studio in Torino and a research group and lecturing activities at MIT in Boston.

Download scan of article (pdf, 1.1 mb, 6 pages)

19 April 2007

Torino 2008 World Design Capital launches Torino GEODESIGN

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
Yesterday I went to a press conference by Torino 2008 World Design Capital at the Milan Design Fair which presented TORINO GEODESIGN.

TORINO GEODESIGN (described in more detail in this Core77 article) is an international competition which will bring designers from all over the world to collaborate with communities and businesses in Piedmont. It will be one of the major events of the Torino 2008 programme.

It is based on the concept of “self-organised” design, that is energetic and highly experimental. The project is generated by a community of consumers, living in large metropolises undergoing change and in cosmopolitan European cities, who transform themselves into suppliers of services.

Speakers were Sergio Chiamparino (Mayor of Torino), Stefano Boeri (project leader of Geodesign competition), Fernando and Humberto Campana (designers), Guta Moura Guedes (President ExperimentaDesign Biennial, Lisbon), and John Thackara (director of Doors of Perception and Dott07). Zaha Hadid was caught ill in New York but contributed via a written statement.

After Stefano Boeri’s presentation of the project, Guta Moura Guedes underlined how design is more and more an issue of people, and therefore increasingly democratic. Cities, she said, are becoming places for bottom-up experimentation in the design field aimed at improving the quality of life for and by those who live within those cities. Design is becoming flexible, hence the overall theme of Torino 2008 (“flexibility”), adapting to different circumstances and issues such as social change, political change and climate change.

Torino’s Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said that three elements in the project were important to him: the in-depth creation of knowledge about the city, the concrete collaboration with citizens and with the topics that matter to them, and the development of a future vision for the city.

Working with local communities is something that the Campana brothers have been doing for quite some time now and they presented several examples of how they work with the rich tradition of handicraft in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

John Thackara finally endorsed the GEODESIGN idea but connected it with the topic of sustainability. We would need, he said, 100 design cities to make a fundamental impact and the radical transformation that is needed. 80% of the environmental impact of the products in our world are the result of design decisions. A large part of the answers can come from other cultures or from other times, where people learned to live sustainability. How can we learn from them?

As described on the new website (and previously illustrated in my interview with Torino 2008 director Paola Zini), the year has been divided into four phases — Public Design, Economy and Design, Education and Design, and Design Policies — each aimed at four specific target groups: the citizens, businesses, the world of education and the institutions.

“Each of these groups represents a cardinal point in the life cycle of contemporary design. Each phase studies, develops and promotes the relationship between design and the urban fabric. This cross section involves the various actors who interrelate within the city and help delineate its aspect.”

Experientia contributes to Torino 2008 website

The editorial section of the new Torino 2008 website, i.e. the part that changes all the time, is curated by me (Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken).

Every month the site will feature an interview, an essay, a profile of a foreign design centre, and a short reflection on the international press. The first interview is with Ranjit Makkuni of the Sacred World Foundation and the first essay is by myself on people-centred design as a means to affect cultural and social change.

4 April 2007

Experientia interviews Paola Zini, director of Torino 2008 World Design Capital

Paola Zini
Core77, the online design magazine, published today an interview with Paola Zini, the director of Torino 2008 World Design Capital, conducted by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken.

The interview is the first of many as Mark is pleased to announce that he will be editing the monthly online magazine of Torino 2008.

In the interview, the young Torino 2008 director talks about why Turin was chosen for this initiative and how she wants to use the opportunity to broaden the concept of design: “We want to focus on design as a process that can be applied to products, communication, public policy, education and services. Torino World Design Capital wants to broaden the concept of design as much as possible, emphasising innovation that starts from our society’s needs.”

She presents the overall theme of flexibility and the year’s four thematic phases.

Zini is convinced that the initiative can strengthen the position of Turin and Piedmont on the international map of design, and spread a design culture with our citizens and within companies, within schools and institutions.

Yet the organisers also think further and want to start creating a debate on what a national strategic design policy in Italy could be like.

The interview features some highlights of the programme, which will be announced in more detail on 18 April.

Questions were also contributed by Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art and Chiara Somajni of Il Sole 24 Ore/Ventiquattro – (Many thanks to both of course!).

An Italian article based on the interview was recently published in the cultural supplement of Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

A copy of the (English) interview can also be found below, without however all the photos that liven up the Core77 version.

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Paola Zini is the face of a new and dynamic Italy. Driven, warm, reflective, convincing and humble enough to admit every so often that she has no answer to a particular question. It took the popular Mayor of Turin, Sergio Chiamparino, quite some convincing to get her to take on the job of leading Torino 2008 World Design Capital, but in the end he prevailed and I am more than happy he did. With Paola new ideas will be nourished and old ideas will be renewed.

The interview took place in February 2007, and was conducted by Mark Vanderbeeken, senior partner of the Turin-based international user experience design consultancy Experientia, and author of the people-focused innovation blog Putting People First, with valuable support from both Régine Debatty (famous arts and technology blogger at we-make-money-not-art.com, and former Turin resident) and Chiara Somajni (a journalist of the Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and its associated magazine Ventiquattro

Core77, the online design magazine, published this interview as an article on its website. This is a copy of the interview as it was published by Core77.

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You are a new face for many people, so let’s start with you introducing yourself and telling us how you became the director of this initiative.

I am Paola Zini, 32 years old and for the past five months have been the director of Torino 2008 World Design Capital. I actually have an economics background, and worked before mainly on the topic of urban economic development–particularly Turin’s development. Up till recently, I was involved with the implementation of the first strategic plan of the city, which by the way was the first strategic plan of any Italian city, and this has definitely been a crucial factor in me now being able to coordinate this design year.

You worked for an organisation called Torino Internazionale.

Yes, it is a mixed public-private agency that is in charge of the city’s strategic plan. Working on economic development also meant promoting design in Turin and in Piedmont, and that was the origin of what I am doing now. So the relationship with ICSID–the international design organisation–grew out of our activities within Torino Internazionale. It was a gradual process that eventually lead to the nomination of Turin as the first World Design Capital, with its own organisational committee.

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THE TURIN NOMINATION WITH ZINI AS DIRECTOR

Why did ICSID choose Turin?

ICSID was looking for a city to host its headquarters, and Turin was one of the candidate cities. (The organisation ultimately took up residence in Montreal.) We participated because we thought it would be good for Turin to host another international organisation [in addition to several United Nations offices], and in particular one that dealt with the topic of design. Our proposal was more than a mere political one: we had the support of important foundations and of ADI, the Italian Association of Industrial Design. With our proposal we created strong international relationships, got to know players in the field of design worldwide, and were able to share the history of our city that is now reinventing itself. We just had the Winter Olympics, one of the events in this carefully prepared transformation trajectory. All this provoked a process whereby ICSID started focusing not just on the move of its headquarters, but also on its communication strategy. So our proposal and our changing city became a very interesting European reference point for ICSID. That’s why our city has been chosen as World Design Capital.

You then became the director of this initiative, which is not an obvious choice in this country where power positions are often in the hands of older, well-connected men. You are instead a young woman who is not originally from this city. Why did they choose you?

I think the organisers wanted to give a strong signal by making an unconventional choice. I have to thank the Mayor, Sergio Chiamparino, and the people of our Board for insisting on me accepting this offer.

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A CITY IN TRANSFORMATION

The project has very high-level support and comes after a series of major events, including the Winter Olympics, through which Turin is trying to reposition itself on the global map. What is the impact you are trying to achieve?

There are many events now–not just in Turin, but also in the wider region–that aim to reposition this territory. The Winter Olympics were of course crucial in making people understand how committed the city administration was to the development of its future. The Games were not a goal in itself, but a first step in a process. The design year will be very different from the Winter Olympics; we want to stimulate a large number of activities all over the region. It will not be a curated festival, but a collective one, made by all those who live here, by our citizens and by students, but also by those who come to visit us professionally or as tourists.

What image do you want to leave behind? How would you like Turin to be perceived in 2009?

We would like to position Turin throughout Europe and throughout the world as a city that is renewing itself, as a city in transformation. Turin has always been seen as the city of FIAT, maybe also as the city of Juventus, but there are other and newer facets of the city that we cherish and are now being embraced by the citizens. We would like to share these concepts with all those who don’t know Turin yet.

How does Turin want to use design in its transformation and what is the role of Torino 2008 in that?

The title of World Design Capital is not awarded to cities that are already design capitals and that are already known as such, but to those places where design is used for the social, cultural and economic transformation of the city. Turin has already made big steps forward in its transformation process. Ten years ago, Turin was a very different city from what it is now. Its economic make-up has changed fundamentally. The cultural industries have diversified our region and there is now a strong service sector. So a lot of transformation has actually taken place already. I think that the title of World Design Capital can help people realise that design, as a process of qualitative change, can further improve many things.

So are these the main goals: change the image of the city and change the mindset of the people?

Those are indeed two important goals: strengthen the position of Turin and Piedmont on the international map of design, and spread a design culture with our citizens and within companies, within schools and institutions. We also want to leave some legacy behind. This year should be more than a thought-through, qualitative event, but the start of a wider change process. Everything we do should have an effect after 2008, and all activities should leave something behind, physically or culturally.

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FLEXIBILITY

What issues are you trying to address?

Cities today are in constant change, and these changes affect all aspects of the social, cultural and economic life of a city. Think about the radically changing composition of the population, and what that means for social integration and our public services. Think about our changing living habits and what that means for mobility and our transport infrastructure. Think about how the concept of work is changing and what that means for companies. These are just a few examples. We citizens are changing our own behaviour constantly to adapt to these changes. Our design and research activities have to take on a flexible approach as well to adapt to the changing nature of things. Design can be a very valid tool in continually confronting these changes.

Flexibility is the “fil rouge” of the year.

The theme builds upon the very idea of what a World Design Capital means for ICSID. What can design do to help a city in transformation? We think that flexibility is the answer. To be “adaptive” or “responsive” means finding answers to the many changes. Because these changes often happen very fast, it is crucial to be able to adapt to this evolving context with appropriate tools, and design is one of them.

The year is divided in four thematic phases.

Yes there are four phases, each of roughly three months, and each phase has a focus. The first one is called public design, so it is about making people aware of the power of design, of the value it can have in improving our daily lives. The second phase is more connected to the business world and the focus is here on understanding how design can transform the economy of our region and of our planet. Then there is the phase dedicated to education and design. This third phase will also overlap with the time when Turin will host the World Congress of Architecture, so there will be many young people in town. The last phase is a crucial one because it closes and summarises the year, and is about design policy. We want to invite national design institutes from all over the world: centres that are responsible for policy development, for making their countries more competitive, and for raising the level of quality.

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BROADENING DESIGN

Let’s discuss some of these four focus areas a bit more in depth. First, what do you mean by “design”? What are its boundaries? What do you want to focus on? Do you consider the redesign of work flows and social relationships within the public administration or the industry to be part of your focus?

Many still think of design as styling. We want to focus instead on design as a process that can be applied to products, communication, public policy, education and services. Torino World Design Capital wants to broaden the concept of design as much as possible, emphasising innovation that starts from our society’s needs. Conveying this contemporary interpretation of the word “design” implies a cultural challenge that will require extensive communication and education.

Indeed, many still see a designer as somebody who creates shapes and forms. How will you change that way of thinking?

This is one of the missions of Torino World Design Capital. Nowadays, it is impossible to speak about form as a goal in itself, disconnected from its function and its economic repercussions. That’s why the first part of the year is aimed at the general public, not at a professional audience, because we want to reach out broadly about what design can be and how it can affect our daily lives. Norman Potter wrote in his seminal 1968 book “What is a designer” that all people are in fact designers, because we all create something. I think it is very important to focus on our basic education: we are setting up an initiative aimed at primary schools, to share with children what a design project is and what the word designer means.

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DESIGN FOR INNOVATION

You spoke about innovation earlier on. “Design” and “innovation” are on everybody’s lips. Design is seen as a tool for business innovation and this thinking is getting a hold in Italy too. Do you think Italy is indeed going through a cultural shift? If so, how is this happening? How will Turin 2008 contribute to it? What, for instance, can companies expect from you in this sense? What is your vision on design and innovation?

Innovation is still often seen as something that happens in research centres. Obviously this is part of the story, but there is more. Design can act as an innovation tool as well, and we need to support that. To stimulate this type of innovation, the Regional Government of Piedmont will soon launch an initiative to create better synergies between designers and companies–not just companies that are already using designers, but also those that are not yet convinced of the benefits of a design approach, or those that need to become more acquainted with the design process.

How else do you plan to structure the collaboration with companies?

Most of that planning is now in the making. There is great interest from companies, and also from abroad. I think it is because we are the first World Design Capital, because Italy is seen as an interesting design context, and because we recently hosted the Winter Olympics. Not just local, but also foreign companies are now planning to be present here in 2008.

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THE ROLE OF ITALY IN THE GLOBAL DESIGN CONTEXT

Italy has played a leading role in design in the past. Today all eyes are turned towards the more edgy and innovative British and Dutch designers. Who do you think is showing the most stunning creativity in Italian design? Or do you think that these geographical boundaries are no longer relevant today?

Geographic boundaries are not so relevant anymore; innovation can be Italian, British, German or Dutch. I don’t believe that Italy or any other country possesses a magical creative or design formula. What matters is dialogue and where that dialogue takes place. Next year one of the meeting points will be here in Turin, so it will be about Italian culture dialoguing with other design cultures. The last part of the year, which is devoted to design policy, is all about that dialogue. We will invite Design Centres from all over the world and give them their own spaces, much like the national pavilions during the Olympic Games. The goal is to have each of them share their design culture with us and with each other. At the end of the year, Turin will then inaugurate its own Design Centre.

Are you thinking about a national design policy for Italy?

There is no national public entity in Italy that implements and promotes a strategic design policy. There is however ADI, the Italian Association of Industrial Design, that has been promoting the Italian design culture for over fifty years, with internationally known initiatives such as the “Compasso d’Oro” award.

Which countries are you planning to involve?

During the last part of the year, we want to focus with these international design centres on exchanging international experiences, creating a network of relationships, and starting a debate on best practices in national design policies worldwide. We have already initiated relations with Hong Kong, Montreal, Nagoya, Taipei, Budapest, Copenhagen and Singapore.

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MILAN

It is however the city of Milan which is seen as Italy’s design capital. How do you plan to articulate the relationship with Milan during (and possibly after) 2008?

When you read about cities and regions nowadays, you hear a lot about competition, but also about exchange. Turin has looked at Barcelona a lot to compare its own development over the last ten years. It is of fundamental importance for us to collaborate with Milan. We cannot be in competition. Turin is working hard to become a design capital but it is not yet one. It still has a lot to learn from Milan. Having more than one design-oriented city can only be an advantage for our country. If ten Italian cities would be known internationally as design cities, it would only increase the international credibility of Italian design and of the role of design in our culture. I view our relationship with Milan as one of mutual exchange, rather than one of competition.

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COME VISIT US

I heard that you are eager to have many young creative people from all over Italy and all over the world come visit Turin during 2008. What can they expect? Why should they come?

We would really like to involve creative and young designers, as visitors, as a critical audience, as contributors in the events, or as active participants that help to shape this event. Hence the relevance of the initiative of the Piedmont regional administration that I told you earlier about: foreign design students working with local companies will provide the former with new professional experiences and the latter with fresh and creative design ideas, developed by people who come from very different contexts. The World Congress of Architecture provides us with another opportunity to bring together the worlds of education and design straining with the international stars of design and architecture.

So the summer is the liveliest period of the year?

For sure it will be the time when we organise many activities for students, and will involve design schools from all over the world.

How can people participate?

The wider public will be immersed in a city that will host a large number of initiatives: exhibitions, conferences and events that are conceived with the aim of connecting ordinary citizens with design. There will also be a number of installations that will be set up in very popular squares and locations. People who are professionally involved with design will be treated to many debates, meetings and discussions. But they will also be involved in actual creation: at New Year’s Eve for example, when Torino 2008 will be inaugurated, we will invite some designers to dress up the city with ad hoc projects to provide visibility to the event and to strengthen its identity. In the summer we will focus on students who can join training projects specifically created for 2008: summer schools, workshops, and the World Congress of Architects are some of the key events for them.

What are some of the highlights of the year?

We cannot disclose everything yet, but definitely New Year’s Eve which will be the event that will launch the entire year: we are working on a big celebration that will involve the entire city, with specific events in the various historical squares of Turin. In May we will host some major activities devoted to graphic design, publishing and advertising. The Design Houses, which will host the world’s main Design Centres, will provide an opportunity for learning and sharing, but also for involving all the citizens.

Thank you.