Bologna - Italy    23 - 27 / 09 / 2024

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Cersaie 2012: Conferences and Seminars
Lesson in reverse with Elio Caccavale

Thursday 27 September - 10.00 a.m.
Europaditorium - Palazzo dei Congressi

Lessons in reverse: Elio Caccavale takes on an upside-down world
The modern world is changing so rapidly that we have no hope of keeping up with it. Each day there are new discoveries, inventions, flows, information, people, goods and services plus thousands of other things we can’t even remember the names of, let alone the links.

Utopian worlds are becoming everyday reality, often transformed into the bleakest dystopia. The future infiltrates the present, leaving us confused and speechless. If the world is turned upside down (or at least that’s the way it looks to us), what can we do about it? Not a lot. At the most we can turn ourselves upside down too and perhaps we’ll begin to understand.

Luckily we have an expert at hand to help us out – his name’s Elio Caccavale and he’s one of the international masters of what is referred to in jargon as social fiction. Rather than a conventional conference in which the speaker talks and the audience listens, we decided to organise a meeting where a thousand or so students could take turns at the microphone to ask questions about the nuances and subtle shades of meaning of this highly unstable present. In other words the students will ask questions and Caccavale will answer.
And if the students don’t understand, Caccavale will rephrase his answer. The issue is far too important for us not to understand!

So far, so good. Social fiction is a subgenre of science fiction. Let’s leave aside the hi-tech aspects and space exploration to concentration on relational aspects and social transformations. But if we graft anthropology and human behaviours onto product and process design, where will that take us? Is it a nice place?

What do ceramic tiles have to do with imaginative tales of possible societies?
The world of interactions – known as interaction design – is fascinating. When does it intersect with and create a short circuit with the real world of production? How does it intersect with it? Why does it intersect with it? What role do designers play in these possible (and alternative) social organisations? What about companies? People? Can these stories have a happy ending? Under what conditions?

The students have thought up countless questions over the summer. Caccavale is ready to enter the arena. And given that it will be a tough encounter, he will have a sparring partner (or perhaps an additional interrogator): Stefano Mirti, just back from the Venice Biennale where he presented the “GranTouristas” project at the Italian Pavilion. A community of thousands of people have been assembled via the major social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to discuss the most delicate and ambiguous issues of the future and present of architecture and Made in Italy. Product design, production, architecture, social media and social fiction. Welcome to the new world, we’re expecting you.


Speaker Elio Caccavale More

Elio Caccavale

Designer and Professor at the Glasgow School of Art
Biographical notes
Elio Caccavale was born in 1975 in Naples, Italy. He studied Product
Design at Glasgow School of Art before going on to the Royal College
of Art to complete a Masters degree in Design Products.
His research investigates design, life sciences and bioethics partnerships, with particular emphasis upon collaborative research methods. His projects include, Utility Pets, a series of speculative products investigating the ethical consequences of xenotransplantation - the transplantation of animal organs into humans (2003); MyBio, a collection of educational soft toys exploring social, cultural, and personal responses to the strange and different in
human biology and in possible transhuman creatures (2005); Neuroscope, an interactive toy linked to a culture of brain cells, which are cared for in
a distant laboratory (2008); and Future Families, a collection of speculative products investigating social, cultural and ethical issues surrounding
assisted conception and surrogacy (2011).
Elio has contributed to research projects supported by Wellcome Trust, Art Council England and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He is the co-author of Creative Encounters (Wellcome Trust, 2008), a book that explores the many opportunities and questions provided and prompted by collaborations between artists, designers, educators
and scientists.
He is responsible for the core program in Product Design at Glasgow School of Art and he is visiting lecturer on the MA Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. Prior to joining Glasgow School of Art, he was the
founder and director of the MSc in Product Design at the University of Dundee. In addition, he holds a visiting professorship at Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung Karlsruhe and an honorary professorship at Hubei University of Technology. He has held lecturing positions at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Architectural Association, Metropolitan University and research positions at Newcastle University in the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences
Research Centre, Reading University in the School of System Engineering
(Cybernetics) and Imperial College in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
Elio regularly presents at conferences internationally and his work has been exhibited extensively, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Design Museum (Triennale) in Milan, the Science Museum in London, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Tapei, the Design and Applied Arts Museum in Lausanne, the Royal Institution in London and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. His work is in the permanent collection of MoMA in New York and has been published by Phaidon, Thames & Hudson, Die Gestalten
Verlag dgv, MIT Press and Centre Pompidou.
Elio is the founder of Elio Caccavale Design Studio, a design studio working across a wide variety of projects, including electronics and forecasting
research. The studio has worked with a wide portfolio of clients including Mattel, Dmagic Mobile China, Orange, French Telecom, PBJ Japan and
LG Electronics.

Coordinator Stefano Mirti More

Stefano Mirti

Coordinator of the Id-Lab projects in Turin and professor of design at the Bocconi University of Milan
Biographical notes
Stefano Mirti, designer (Id-Lab) and lecturer in design at Bocconi University in Milan, coordinates the Id-lab (Interaction Design Lab) projects in Turin. He graduated in architecture at Turin Polytechnic, where he also went on to do a research doctorate.
He studied for his post-doctorate in Japan (Tokyo University, Tadao Ando Lab) and subsequently taught at the Tama Fine Art Academy in Tokyo. Since 2006 he has been responsible for the NABA design programme and worked as a consultant for Turin World Design Capital 2008. From 2001 to 2005 he was Associate Professor at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, an education and research institute created by Olivetti and Telecom Italia. From 2000 to 2001 he taught at Tama Art University (Tokyo) and carried through various design projects, including the polycarbonate house and neon gardens. He also set up Now the Future, a digital atlas that documents design initiatives and events all over the world. Before going to Japan, he was one of the founders of Cliostraat, a group of architects, artists and photographers who design buildings, parks, public structures and exhibition halls. Mirti has won the European Architectural Prize three times (in 1995, 1997 and 2001). In 2004 he won the Bronze Medal for Cultural Merits of the Republic of Italy. His work has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, at the Triennale in Milan, at the Biennale in Venice and at the Beijing First Biennale of Architecture.

Speaker Rolando Giovannini More

Rolando Giovannini

Professor Accademia di Belle Arti di Ravenna
Biographical notes
Rolando Giovannini is a Knight of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Order of Merit of the Italian Republic). He studied in Faenza in the Technological Section of the "Ballardini" Art Institute.  He obtained a degree in Geology and a diploma in Decoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna (he passed his examination with full marks, with a thesis in mineralogy on "Mixed chlorite-saponite interlayer" - Prof. Noris Morandi -  and on the subject of "Textures" -Prof. Adriano Baccilieri). He was a pupil of Paolo Monti, with whom he took the exam of Photography at the DAMS (University of Bologna). In 1975 he qualified as a researcher for the CNR (Italian Research Council). He was a member of the Ministerial Committee in Rome which oversaw the creation of the "Michelangelo" project for art schools and is currently a member of the Working Group for the reform of Italian secondary schools specialising in art, commissioned by MIUR.  He was a teacher at the ISIA in Faenza (Institute for Higher Education for the Artistic Industries – where he was also appointed Director of the Institute for two consecutive academic years) in Decorative Techniques, Pattern Design and Surface Design, then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravenna (Marketing) and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna (Chemical-Physical methodologies). He is today the principal of the IIS "Stoppa Compagnoni" in Lugo and principal regent of the ISA "Gaetano Ballardini" Secondary Art School in Faenza.
He was one of the artists involved in the "Nose" movement with Cesare Reggiani (1976-78) and "A Tempo e a Fuoco", a movement organised by Vittorio Fagone (1982-1985); here he made researches on ceramic and neon materials. He has worked with Bruno Munari ("Giocare con l'Arte", M.I.C., the International Ceramic Museum in Faenza 1979-82), Paola Navone (1984), Sottsass Associati (1986), Alessandro Guerriero (1992), Marta Sansoni and Marco Zanini (1995), Alessandra Alberici and Giorgio Montanari (1997-2007), Tullio Mazzotti (1999-2008), Giovanni Levanti (2000-07), Franco Laera and Vanni Pasca (2003), Dante Donegani (2004), Massimo Iosa Ghini (2005), Sergio Calatroni, Ilaria De Palma (2007), Mario Pisani (2008), Maria Rita Bentini, Alessandro Castiglioni, Veronica Dal Buono, Luigi Sansone (2009), Muky, Mara De Fanti (2010), Bertozzi & Casoni, Laura Silvagni, Fulvio Irace (2011).
A theorist of design, he has published several articles, as well as three books on the subject of design and decoration of ceramics especially aimed at schools and academies.
He founded the NeoCeramica Movement (2007) and arranged the collection of tiles from the second half of the 20 th century at the MIC in Faenza (since 1978); he organised a scientific project at the Documentation Centre and Museum (Confindustria Ceramica, Sassuolo), the Contemporary Section at the Museum of the Castello di Spezzano of Fiorano and the Design Section of MuST (Sacmi, Imola). In 2008, in Faenza, he was instrumental in establishing the MISA (the Museum of the State Art Institute). More recently he presented the work by Gillo Dorfles (the author was also present, with Claudio Cerritelli and Luigi Sansone, Milan, Palazzo Reale, 2009) and that by Enzo Mari in "Teoria ed etica del design" (Design theory and ethics) during a lecture to the students from art schools in Bologna (Cersaie 2010). He was coordinator for the attendance and participation of art schools at the event "Lezione alla rovescia" by Alessandro Mendini (Bologna, Cersaie 2011).
He has designed objects which have been manufactured in Italy and Japan. His public works include the ceramic wall decoration inside the Shin-Kobe underground railway station, Shinkansen station in Kobe, Japan.
Some of his design works are kept at the Alessi and Richard Ginori archives, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at the Foshan Creative Industry Park Investment & Management Ltd, Foshan, China (2009). He was invited to the second China (Shanghai) International Modern Pot Art Biennial Exhibition, Shanghai, China (2010) and to the ICMEA Symposium in Fuping, China (November 2010). He travelled to India in November 2011, to produced three objects for the Sanskriti Museum of New Delhi. He was invited by Vittorio Sgarbi and Giorgio Grasso to take part at the  PADIGLIONE ITALIA within the framework of the 54th INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBITION OF THE BIENNALE OF VENICE, for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy (Turin, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Sala Nervi, December 17 th, 2011) curated by Vittorio Sgarbi.
He created the didactic museum "Museo didattico Stoppa-Compagnoni", at the IIS Stoppa-Compagnoni in Lugo di Romagna, where calculators, writing machines, computers and scientific instruments that were used in the past by land surveyors, are collected. The museum was inaugurated on December 23rd, 2011. A brochure is available with a description of the various works and machines on show, illustrating the use referred to the history of Design.
He was Art Director of the magazine "Tile Fashion" from 1993 to 2000 and responsible for the Art, Fashion and Design columns of the monthly magazine C.I., a Il Sole 24 ore S.p.A. publication.
He writes articles for the D’A magazine, distributed to newsstands since January 2011, and for Art and Perception (a U.S. periodical).



Video interview

Rolando Giovannini
Elio Caccavale