Project: Síntesi | Visual

Project: Síntesi


The Global Lesson opening academic year 2020/21 of Istituto Europeo di Design was held yesterday afternoon. This digital event brought together for the first time more than 8.000 students across the three countries where IED Group operates – Italy, Spain and Brazil – and offered them an inspirational moment, looking towards what the new academic year has in store for them. The Global Lesson event was streamed over a platform at 5:00 pm (CET time) not only because of the pandemics, but also because this was the only way to bring together a global community that is scattered across twelve different cities many kilometres apart.

The event was opened by Riccardo Balbo, Academic Director of IED Group, whose speech was sprinkled with themes that invite reflection, a few provocative insights and some advice that will come handy for those who are starting on a curriculum focussed on project work, creativity and innovation. One of the themes proposed for debate was the question of what ‘normal’ is: “In spite of our best efforts, just a tiny fraction of our lives is actually determined by our careful planning, as opposed to unexpected events. It is safe to say that real life is about the unexpected. We should all bear this in mind, and invest and build upon this aspect, rather than on our idea of ‘normal’, as there is no such thing as normal. Challenges, large or small, not normality, are what makes us grow both as individuals and at a global level, and propel us forward”.

Balbo explained, and went on to encourage students to consider how the concept of distance can take on a positive aura these days:  “It is remarkable that this word – distance – has only gained popularity thanks to the virus. Like many other concepts, their positive or negative perception depends on context or, better yet, on your project. I believe that distance is a fantastic starting point that is worth some thought on the part of designers. Distance is the space that enables us to travel, a chance to go out and meet someone new or learn something new. For us, it means being curious. And curiosity always prevails over fear”. 

The concepts of distance and change were also discussed by Karole P. B. Vail, Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and of the Foundation for Italy: “Of course you may view this time of separation and distance as a challenging, testing time, but you should also see it as a chance to grow, to gain experience and to change. After all, we can now rely on sophisticated technology that is part of our DNA, much more than ever before. There is always a surprise around the corner, so go out there and live your life to the fullest possible extent. Against all expectations, in spite of the many obstacles and changes that you are faced with, remember that uncertainty can be inspiring and force you to think outside the box. Change is ever present, life changes, it must change and go on, nothing is static and even in difficult times such as these, change must happen”.

A reflection on motivation and normality was the message of Martina Caironi, paralympic champion in the 100-metre sprint at London 2012, in 100-metre spring and silver medal in long jump at Rio 2016, who will also be taking part in the oncoming Tokyo games. Martina Caironi recently worked with IED, as the prosthetic legs she will be wearing at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 are to be designed by two young IED talents:  Silvia Borri (Master in Creative Direction) – who created an optical leg for the 100-metre race – and Maddalena Pavanello (Master in Graphic Design) – with her ethnic pop style leg for the long jump.

I never became complacent after an excellent result: of course I was happy and celebrated with my loved ones, but I went back to work towards my next goal right away. Stimulating inputs are the spice of life. Without that, we all feel lost. I’m sure you realized that during the lockdown, didn’t you? Why am I telling you this? Because I see the similarity with what your academic path can be like: there are challenges, you may face difficulties, you may feel like your goals are far away. Sometimes you have to make important decisions all alone, but you can rely on an expert guide at all times. And whenever you feel tired, remember that for every goal there is a path. If you are not there yet, you may need to try a different method or a different tool”.

The concept of change, which is linked with the broad digital transformation taking place these days, is outlined in detail in the speech of Hervé Falciani, financial and ICT expert, engaged in the fight against banking frauds, who has been offering consulting services to governmental authorities, public administration agencies and NGOs for years: “Digital transformation is ever-present in our lives. Today, we all have a connected device and are increasingly dependant on this connectivity. We have a pressing need to obtain the latest updated information. However, I believe that these devices will soon be discarded in favour of more immersive processes that incorporate such technology as augmented reality”.