Aperitif and networking!

Milano Design PhD Festival 2019 is all about enthousiastic researchers meeting to share their diverse visions and particular interests. I ended up in the Smart Spaces and Cities panel, having the privilege of discussing the theses of Maria Elena Soriero, Bogdan Stojanovic and Isa Helena Tibúrcio. At my side, in her first participation in an international commission, Serbian researcher in Art History Vladana Putnic Prica, who enjoyed as much as myself the many differences in the evaluation procedures, in comparison to what happens in our countries’ universities.


With Vladana Putnic Prica, from (New) Belgrade.

Looking closer into the works presented. The first, Maria Elena Soriero, was no less than a taxonomical tour de force; through a rigorous methodology of classification, she unveiled an evolutional narrative within Contemporary Art – from Immersion to the Cyborg – based on the analysis of major art-works (and  as well a few other cultural expressions in Visual Culture) which are establishing a Technonatural paradigm of experience. Always a pleasure to revisit the aesthetic of the likes of Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson, Lygia Clark (photo below) or… Björk, now through such a specific, but nevertheless crucial lens.


Bogdan Stojanovic’s work is encapsulated in a 5 lines long title: ‘Enhancement of Contemporary Architecture through a Meaningful On-site Experience. Novel design strategies for raising awareness of the eastern modernist architecture towards the major audience’. Uf. The fact is that the research is far from boring; it’s a brilliant take on the Smart Cities’ trend, managing to be both caring for locality (the Modernist built heritage of New Belgrade) and offering new generations and publics a multilayered and engaging audience development strategy (communicated by means of clever infographics). We’ll soon hear more from this guy, in an (Intelligent) city near you. Mark my words.


Finally, the morning marathon would come to an end with Isa Helena Tibúrcio’s proposal of Light Art as a tool to generate and affirm Intermediate Urban Space. Luxo vs. Lixo or on how to operate from the perspective of a heart of gold. This is a very timely appropriation of Light Culture – which she approached through interviews with extraordinary artists such as Carlo Bernardini or Marco Brianza (Lux Matrix Tallinn) – for the sake of the involvement of ordinary people in conscious change. Brazil, are you listening?


Below, Bogdan (Stojanovic, PhD.), and Maria Elena (Soriero, PhD) with Isa (Helena Tibúrcio, PhD).



The afternoon at the Polifactory – POLIMI’s creative hub – was no less intense, with all the members of the several evaluation comitees giving highly personal lectures in an atmosphere of sheer informality, generosity and… provocation. A couple of these talks made my day: specially the proposal of a Happy Kaunas 2020 Contemporary Capital of Culture, by Jurate Tutlyte, and the passion with which Christian Gilles Boucharenc shared with a perplexed and delighted audience what Finnish and Japanese (!?!) design traditions might have in common. Des mots et des images justes! Two talks with Universal appeal, in fact establishing a fine dialogue with the opening Lectio Magistrali: Pietro Marani  on Leonardo da Vinci as Designer and Arturo DellAcqua Bellavitis explaining the historical reasons why Milano became a vibrant world capital of design. Judging by the quite amused international smiles In the group, also my talk on Dominik Lejman’s Haptic Aphorisms went also quite well. My special thanks to ESAD.CR and of course POLIMI for this wonderfully intense couple of days.

Designing ideas. Christian Gilles Boucharenc sharing his passion for the details which unravel hidden links between Finland and Japan, Architecture and Design. And Jurate Tutlyte unveiling the guiding lines of Kaunas (Contemporary Capital of Culture 2020.


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