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Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • Facts & Stories

    Ferrari Debuts 812 Superfast—Its Fastest Production Car Yet

    It was only a matter of time before Ferrari stunned buyers and admirers alike with a swanky successor of its ridiculously quick F12 Berlinetta, but the shock at the major improvements still comes as surprise. Ferrari’s latest grand tourer, the 800-cv 812 Superfast, is even quicker, making it the manufacturer’s fastest and most powerful production car yet. Sleek, aggressive, and elegant, the Superfast starred on the Ferrari stand at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, exciting everyone in attendance.

    Shift to the Twelfth Dimension: The 812 Superfast

    The Ferrari 812 Superfast is powered by a new 6.5-liter V12 engine with a staggering 789hp at 8,500 rpm. This propels the new Ferrari from zero to 62mph in just 2.9 seconds and continues to 211mph on the right road. Maximum torque is 718 Nm at 7,000 rpm.

    The 812 Superfast is striking for both its highly innovative design and aero package, as well as its unparalleled handling. It is the first Ferrari to introduce Electric Power Steering, which is used to fully exploit the potential of the car in terms of performance. The introduction of the Virtual Short Wheelbase 2.0 system combines the electric front-wheel steering assistance, which is developed to work with the Slide Slip Control, in order to improve agility and response time to steering wheel inputs.

    The two examples of the 812 Superfast on display feature new colors: the special celebratory Rosso 70 Anni and Grigio Caldo Opaco—both equally head-turning. If you would like to purchase either version, expect to pay well over $300,000.

    Protecting Ferrari's Exotic Appeal

    Last year in Geneva, Ferrari unveiled a four-seater GTC4Lusso "family car" in an effort to reach a wider audience. However, the company’s bread-and-butter models are still its high-powered, handcrafted supercars and special editions, which are now appearing with increasing frequency.

    Having promised its shareholders a boost in sales and profit following its 2015 initial public offering, Ferrari faces the challenge of selling more cars without diluting its allure of exclusivity. While they posted record profit last year, they hope to increase earnings by at least 8 percent in 2017. Though production was previously limited to 7,000 annually, Ferrari expects to sell about 8,400 vehicles this year. Therefore, CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing hypercars, such as the 812 Superfast, to maintain earnings momentum.

  • Facts & Stories

    Notorious Naples Slum to be Demolished

    The four housing blocks known as the Vele di Scampìa (Sails of Scampia) for their triangular shape have blemished Naples’ northern skyline since the early 1960s. However, plans to demolish the crime-ridden slums are finally being put into action.

    Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris announced that the first block of the infamous urban housing project will be bulldozed at the start of summer this year. According to Magistris, the one block to remain will be renovated and turned into the Naples metropolitan authority headquarters.  

    This comes as part of Premier Paolo Gentiloni’s proposal to improve deprived areas on the outskirts of Italian cities. At a press conference on Monday, he presented his plan to invest 3.9 billion euros, including 500 million euros right away.

    "Today a 500-million-euro commitment was made for the best 24 projects in the periphery areas.” He continued, "The commitment regards 120 interventions in total, so 95 more than those for today. The money is there.”

    “The CIPE (Inter-ministerial Economic Planning Committee) has set aside another 800 million of the 1.6 billion needed and the other 800 million are part of the fund for infrastructure. In addition to the 2.1 billion, public and private funding will be added for a total of 3.9 billion."

    The Sails of Scampia and the Troubled South

    Designed and built by Italian architect Franz di Salvo between 1962 and 1975, the Sails were part of a more extensive housing project, which also included the development of Ponticelli, a neighborhood in eastern Naples. Next to affordable housing, di Salvo also wanted to provide social centers, playing fields, and other community facilities, but they never materialized.

    After completion living conditions began to deteriorate and the Sails quickly became the perfect illustration of crime and corruption. Originally, the complex consisted of seven massive apartment blocks and housed anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 people—no one was ever willing to conduct a real headcount. Since then, three of the blocks have been destroyed with thousands of tenants still living in the badly damaged structures.

    Decline really set in an after the 1980 Irpinia earthquake, which left many people homeless, who subsequently started to squat where they could, including at the Sails. Tolerated and ignored by the government, virtually all maintenance was put on hold. Problems only worsened with the Camorra controlling the Scampia area matched with the total lack of police presence.

    The first police station did not open until 1987, but the Sails remain a major center for drug trafficking and illegal activities today. This inspired director Matteo Garrone to shoot his film "Gomorrah" inside and around the estate. In part due to the movie and the subsequent TV series, the Sails have come to be known worldwide as a hotbed for drugs, prostitution, and the mafia. However, many disadvantaged families are forced to live there because they can’t afford decent housing. Therefore, the Sails are not only a symbol of the Camorra but of the government’s failure to provide meaningful development in the area.

  • Facts & Stories

    Celebrate International Women’s Day

    Next Wednesday, March 8, marks International Women’s Day (IWD). Observed since 1911, the day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Furthermore, it marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. The day is centered in unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action—whatever that looks like from thinking globally and acting locally.

    Yes, women won the right to vote, attend college, and are CEOs, astronauts, and doctors. We can work and have a family. We can dream and act upon them. This is what we celebrate: how the world has experienced significant change in women’s equality and emancipation and all the people who relentlessly worked to achieve that.

    But there are more battles to be fought. The gender pay gap is still there (yes, for the exact same work), paid maternity leave is not, and though more women are in the boardroom, they are still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Furthermore, on a global scale, women's education, health, and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

    That’s why the theme for IWD 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. The site reads, “Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world—a more gender inclusive world." Last year, individuals supported the #PledgeForParity campaign, but the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. The #BeBoldForChange campaign hopes to encourage people to take groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women now.

    Because IWD is as good a day as any and better than most for words and action for equality, thousands of events—conferences, corporate events, awards, exhibitions, festivals, fun runs, concerts, theatric performances, and more—are set to take place around the globe. Find an event close to you here.

    The History of IWD

    In the early 1900s, women's oppression and inequality were spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change, demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. Then Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women's Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, tabled the idea for the holiday at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. A year later, IWD was honored for the first time on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

    Rallies took place throughout these countries, gathering millions of men and women alike, who fought for issues such as job training, the ability to hold public office, and an end to discrimination. The tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City that took the lives of more than 140 workingwomen the following week drew significant attention to working conditions and labor legislation in the United States.

    However, by the new millennium, feminism was no longer at the forefront and IWD activity stalled. To re-energize the day as an important platform to celebrate the achievements of women and to end gender disparities, the global internationalwomensday.com digital hub was launched in 2001. A decade later on the occasion of IWD’s 100-year centenary, President Barack Obama proclaimed March to be "Women's History Month."

    La Festa della Donna: IWD in Italy

    IWD was officially recognized in Italy in 1922, but wasn’t celebrated throughout the peninsula until after WWII. In 1946, the Unione Donne in Italia decided to choose the bright yellow flowers of the Mimosa to symbolize the event. Not only does it blossom at the beginning of March, but its color is a symbol of vitality and joy. And so it became custom for Italian men to gift their mothers, wives, and daughters with Mimosa on IWD as a sign of respect and solidarity with them in their support for oppressed women worldwide. Many florists donate parts of their proceedings to projects related to women’s causes, such as shelters for women subject to violence, breast cancer research, or co-operatives run by women in third world countries.

    Naturally, Italians also prepare for the festivities with dessert. And what’s more fitting than Mimosa cake? In addition to its color, its texture is also reminiscent of the Mimosa—the crumbled sponge cake is akin to the buds of the flower. Even better is that it’s simple to make. Bake two sponge cakes and cover the bottom layer with custard (crema pasticcera) and whipped cream (panna montata). Then cover the top layer with a crumble finish.

    One more Italian tradition is girls night out, otherwise known here in the States as GNO. The idea is for women to celebrate each other, typically through dinner and parties. But there are also many cultural initiatives, like free admission to museums and archeological sites for women.

    In fact, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage announced on Thursday that it would give women free entry to all of the country’s museums on Wednesday. The organization said it wanted to “celebrate the feminine world” by highlighting works of art by and of women in their collections. A number of special events, talks, and exhibitions will take place at cultural heritage sites, focusing on the representation of women in art as a whole, as well as during specific periods and in certain regions.

  • © ANSA
    Art & Culture

    Experts Discover a Dog in Leonardo's ‘Virgin of the Rocks’

    The prime exemplar of a Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci’s talents spanned a wide range of fields, but he is renowned primarily as a painter. In fact, a handful of his works are regarded as among the great masterpieces, rivaled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo. His most famed artworks include the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and the Virgin of the Rocks.

    As with the rest of his portfolio, these paintings are all suffused with symbols and social commentary. Over the years, restoration and emerging technologies have unveiled new details and allowed for new waves of interpretation. Sometimes these processes solve century-long mysteries, such as that the Mona Lisa does have eyebrows. The most recent discovery was a dog behind vegetation in the backdrop of the famed Virgin of the Rocks in the Louvre, which depicts Mary, Baby Jesus, infant John the Baptist, and an angel in the forefront.

    How experts uncovered the dog

    Silvano Vinceti, the president of the National Committee for the Valorization of Historic Heritage, explained, “We achieved this result with a new work (method), via the use of a mix of the most advanced technologies and simple instruments.” He elaborated, "A special magnifying glass enabled us to carefully examine every feature of the painting and then an advanced Photoshop software enabled us to overlay, decompose, and recompose it.”

    Vinceti, who was at the center of the finding of Caravaggio's bones at Porto Ercole and the remains of the model for Mona Lisa in Florence, credited the discovery to Roberto Biggi, a researcher for the committee.

    Why Leonardo painted a canine

    According to Vinceti, the so-far-undiscovered dog peeping out from the plants in the rocky setting of the background subtly condemns the corrupt papacy of Leonardo’s time with the dog’s leash symbolizing faith in Jesus’s original message. This revelation enables a new reading of the painting.

    Vinceti explained that "for Leonardo the dog has a precise meaning, 'no to disobey,' as he himself writes in one of his folios. The leash, then, is an addition because it represented in medieval and Renaissance hunts the tool that enabled the feudal lord to stop dogs eating the prey.” He continued, "For Leonardo, therefore, the dog on a leash is the symbol of man who must obey God, the divine Commandments, Jesus, the life that Jesus perfectly embodied to express Christian love.”

    Of course, Leonardo was not able to express his criticism at the time in fear of Pope Innocent VIII, the Borgia popes, and the Inquisition (a Catholic Church institution for combatting heresy). Therefore, he used iconographic language.  

    Vincetti concluded, "Leonardo uses the painting to express his thought and request for a rigorous Christianity that may revive the example of God for the Commandments and Jesus as expressed in the Gospels."

    Leonardo: Painter and Storyteller

    "Up till today his paintings have been addressed from the standpoint of technique and painting style," Vinceti said, "but we have lost sight of the fact that Leonardo, through the composition of his paintings, achieved a narration, expressed a thought that becomes image.”

    Leonardo did once write, “Painting is the beautiful that clothes the truth.” 

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Court Recognizes Gay Couple as Parents

    In a groundbreaking court case, a gay couple in Italy has been recognized as parents of two surrogate children. This is the first time an Italian court has ruled that a child legally has two fathers.

    Only one of the pair is biologically related to the children, who were born via artificial insemination in the United States to a surrogate mother and are now seven years old. However, the Trento Court of Appeal made the ruling in line with the birth certificate issued in the US, which states the dual paternity.

    In their decision, judges noted that the foreign birth certificate was valid because in Italy parental relationships are not determined solely by biological relationships. They explained, "One must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to have and care for the child." 

    The couple’s lawyer, Alexander Schuster, said afterwards, “This is a recognition of full parenthood, in other words, not adoption.” He continued, “It has recognized for the first time a foreign provision that gives the second father the status of a parent.”

    Gay rights groups welcome the ruling

    Gay activists and support groups throughout Italy hailed the ruling as an important precedent.

    Article 29, a website that takes its name from an article regarding family in the Italian Constitution, published the details of the February 23 decision on Tuesday, praising the historic ruling for acknowledging gay rights and protecting the needs of children.

    Similarly, Marilena Grassadonia, president of Famiglie Arcobaleno (Rainbow Families), said, “In the absence of clear laws we hope now that all Italian courts follow the same path. It is the only way that we can safeguard our children.”

    Surrogacy, adoption, and gay marriage in Italy

    Italian law currently forbids the use of a surrogate mother. In theory, anyone caught entering into a surrogacy arrangement faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to a million euros.

    In November 2014, a child was taken away from a northern Italian couple, who paid €25,000 to a surrogate mother in Ukraine. Both in their fifties and infertile, the couple turned to surrogacy after being turned down three times in their bid to adopt. The two were charged with fraud and the child was put up for adoption.

    It is also extremely difficult for gay couples to adopt; adoption rights are granted on a case-by-case basis for everyone. After a stepchild adoption clause was scrapped from the bill, it made it harder for same-sex couples to adopt their partner’s biological child.

    It was only in June 2016 that the Italian Parliament passed legislation to create civil unions for gay couples. Same-sex marriage is still illegal.

  • Art & Culture

    ‘Seeing Through’ Art Exhibit at Casa Italiana

    Recalling the legacy of Alberti’s window—a conceptual method for renaissance artists to understand perspective—to the bold masterpieces of the modern era like Duchamp’s The Large Glass, the idea of “seeing through” has influenced artists up to the present day. The “Seeing Through” exhibit at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò showcases work from two such painters, Antonio Scaccabarozzi (Merate, Italy 1936-2008) and Marthe Keller (New York, 1948). Conceived and curated by contemporary art historian Elisabetta Longari, the exhibit is on display until March 16 and allows viewers to experience how artists of varying perspectives address and employ this principle.

    The Artists Side by Side

    Though Scaccabarozzi and Keller belong to two different artistic generations, had different cultural upbringings, and lived on different continents, their work shares a striking likeness. They both move from similar visual problems and suggest answers that unexpectedly relate to each other. Most importantly, they base
 the visual dynamics of their works on the experience 
of “seeing through,” tethered to their shared interest 
in ideas pertaining to painting “beyond the frame.”

    In conversation with Longari, Keller compared her own process with Scaccabarozzi’s: “My generation was always battling this problem of space in painting and how to deal with it. The layers of transparency are a way of looking into the space of painting without really disturbing it too much.” She continued, “It’s a slightly different approach. He’s coming at it from one side, I’m coming at it from another, but we’re kind of meeting in the middle. I think he’s a little purer in a way and I allow a lot more garbage to get into my work. I use chance a lot and let things happen, whereas he has a plan and he follows it. He’s a little more conceptual perhaps.”

    Each artist experiments with different approaches and materials, including the use of artificial shims that look like borderline invisible plastic sheets. These elements hang in the balance between presence and absence, enhancing 
the sensorial effect of the painted surface and creating a dialect between transparency
 and opacity. The surfaces are often deconstructed into overlapping layers, within which the inherent properties of color and painterly gestures create a theater of aggregations and separations.

    Keller and Scaccabarozzi also focus on the potential for instability as it relates to perception. They seek out liminal spaces and intervals, subtle nuances that oscillate between visible and invisible. Their paintings are at once annunciations and affirmations of the medium of paint itself. They are presences and predictions in the making.

    About the Artists and Curator

    Scaccabarozzi produced and exhibited for over four decades, beginning in 1965 until his unexpected death in a motorcycle accident in 2008. However, his notable exhibitions continue to take place all over Europe. Recent shows have been at Galerie Hoffmann, Freidberg, Germany; Foundation Antonio Calderara, Italy; Nuova Galleria Morone, Milan; P420, Bologna; and Scaramouche, NY.

    Keller is based in New York City, though she lived in Rome in the 1960s and returns to Italy annually to work. She studied painting with Sal Scarpitta at the Maryland Institute and made wall drawings for Sol Lewitt. Her first significant shows were in New York and Palermo, Sicily in 1982, and she has had over 22 solo shows since. Her artworks are featured in many notable collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA, the Whitney Museum, and the British Museum. She also co-founded the BAU Institute arts residency and is an Adjunct Professor at Hunter College in NYC.

    Longari is an art historian and curator based in Milan. She teaches Contemporary Art History at the Brera Academy
 of Fine Arts, Milan, and Phenomenology of Styles at Catholic University, Brescia. She is a prolific writer of essays, books, and catalogs, such as Sironi e la V Triennale di Milano. She has curated numerous one-person and group exhibitions in museums and galleries internationally, including José Barrias at Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, 1996, and Pelanda dei Suini at Testaccio, Rome, 2016.

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Scientists Speak to the Next Generation

    The “Meet the New Italians of New York” cycle resumed this week at the Consulate General of Italy with the first event in the series of the year dedicated to the research community. Each different occasion concentrates on a distinct discipline ranging from fashion to finance and facilitates an opportunity for interaction with professionals in the field to those who aspire to obtain such positions. The aim of the project is to involve the new generation of migrant Italians and encourage their participation in the activities of institutions of the Italian system.

    Organized in collaboration with the Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation, “Meet the New Italian Scientists of New York” consisted of a panel of distinguished guests, who talked about their experiences, difficulties, and how they made it to New York. The audience was able to intervene and ask questions, providing them with a chance to learn how to establish themselves in such a complex city. Riccardo Lattanzi (Associate Professor Radiology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director of Training, Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research, New York University), who arrived in the US after graduating from the University of Bologna, presented the various speakers and moderated the discussion.

    Physicist Elena Aprile, Ph.D. (Professor, Physics Department, Columbia University) expressed beforehand to i-Italy,  “As I walk downed Park Avenue to this Consulate, I just felt proud to be Italian. I’m happy to be here and I hope the public is able to interact with some of us who are doing science in New York, and in my case for a very long time too.”

    What Science Means to Them

    When offering their own definition of the word “science,” it was clear that all of the featured panelists are extremely passionate about their chosen career paths.

    For example, Michele Pagano, MD (Chair Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, May Ellen and Gerald Hay Ritter Professor of Oncology, New York University School of Medicine, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute) does not consider his job as "work" but rather part of his life. Similarly, Andrea Ventura, MD, Ph.D. (Associate Member, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), who moved to the US in 2003 and finished his postdoctoral at MIT before coming to NY, described his job as “a dream come true.” He wanted to become a scientist since he was a kid living in a small village in Sicily, even though he didn’t know much about the industry other than what he gathered from books and television.

    Others in attendance are enthusiastic about their work because it supplies endless possibilities for the youth to advance knowledge. Maurizio Porfiri, Ph.D. (Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering New York University School of Enineering Tandon), who works in robotics and studies both human-robot and animal-robot interactions, described working in science and engineering as "an exciting creative process that provides opportunities to train younger generations to undertake new endeavors and to push the frontiers of knowledge.” Luca Carloni, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University), who has worked in computer engineering for more than 20 years since graduating in Italy, shared, “I’m lucky enough to work in a field that has an increasing impact in society, for which there is a need for the next generation to come with enthusiasm and provide their contribution.” 

    Science in the United States Versus Italy

    All of the scientists who spoke at the Consulate lived in Italy before moving to the States to advance their careers. While many studied there and all are very fond of their country, they all encouraged the crowd to work here in the US as opposed to overseas.

    Pagano, for one, could not pinpoint the differences within the industry between the countries, as he has not worked in Italy since 1990, but he believes that the US is the place to be. Aprile is of the same mentality. She came to Boston to Harvard University for a postdoctoral with Carlo Rubbia, a Noble Prize winner, and went on to work at Columbia. Though she travels back home every month, she does not think she could work there as well as she does here. However, she is still of the opinion that “there is no better country” than Italy.

    Pagano could offer that in the US doctoral students are treated as equal colleagues. He expressed, "It is important to give advice, but especially to let these guys be free to grow, to develop their own ideas and go straight on their way."

    Ventura specifically advised those working in Italy to do an experience abroad, reassuring them that they can always come back later. While he's aware that there are incredibly good scientists in Italy, he believes that it’s much easier to become independent in the US. He explained, “You will have your own lab and you can do research when you are young and the most creative.” In Italy, on the other hand, this takes much longer. 

    Another difference he pointed out is that it’s encouraged in the US to move from one place to another and frowned upon if you don’t. The case is the opposite in Italy, which Ventura views as “very dangerous and the wrong thing to do for scientists.”

    Advice for the Next Generation

    Pagano suggests to simply follow your passion “and nothing else.” He emphasized, “Don’t think too much of what is the best choice. Don’t panic.” He also encouraged to pursue science from a place of curiosity and to work a lot, especially at the best institutions if able to. Similarly, Ventura advised, “I think the best advice is not to give up and to always try. Send your CV to the best labs in the field. Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid.”

    In regards to Italian students hoping to come to America to pursue a doctorate, Carloni shared, "It worked for me to meet teachers at Italian universities, to work with them and participate in seminars. This was a great channel to become part of a more international reality."

    Aprile, the only woman host of the event, spoke specifically to all the women scientists out there. She began, "You can only be successful in this field by having physical and mental strength." She continued, "To have a laboratory, to teach, to be a wife, to be a mother, it is what I managed to do. I think it is important to convey the message to young women that in life you can do anything if only you desire it."

    Click here to see our interview with the panelists before the event, aired on NYC Life.

  • Events

    Italian Design Day: Celebrating Excellence

    Following the successful 21st Milan Triennial Exhibition, over 100 cities internationally will celebrate Italian Design Day on March 2. The initiative, launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, promotes contemporary Italian design around the world. For the occasion, scores of “ambassadors” of design—architects, designers, journalists, academics, critics, entrepreneurs, and business leaders alike—will illustrate the history and the new trends that the Italian design sector has to offer, taking place at various foreign offices of the consular diplomatic network.

    Italian Design: An Unquestioned Success Story

    Design in Italy pervades the fields of culture, art, fashion, and philosophy and is a worldwide trendsetter in the main manufacturing and production sectors. The pleasure that beautiful ordinary objects can bring into everyday life is the driving force behind Italian design, characterized by its novelty and the solidity of traditional handicrafts. There’s a reason that the common phrase of “Made in Italy” connotes the highest of quality and an unparalleled elegance. The i-Italy video Design Speaks Italian (Design parla italiano), made in collaboration with the MAECI and the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, demonstrates the multifaceted art in just a few minutes.

    The birth of the design culture in Italy goes back to the extraordinary talents of the Renaissance, such as Leonardo da Vinci. Its presence in modern art schools has made it possible for contemporary industrial design to develop in many fertile and diversified ways. Since the second postwar period, Italian design has matured to support the growth of the country and has launched a new concept of research. In driving industrial production, Italian design has shaped the objectives of development and generated its own distinctive national characteristics.

    Italian Design Day Celebrations

    Of the many widespread events to take place, both the Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) of New York and Los Angeles are hosting world-famous architects.

    Michele de Lucchi for Italian Design Day
    Italian Cultural Institute of New York
    6:00—8:00 pm
    RSVP here

    The IIC of New York is excited to present the well-known architect and designer Michele de Lucchi in conversation with Mario Milana, Matteo Milani, and Jonathan Wajskol.

    Famed throughout the world for his radical and idiosyncratic designs for, among others, Artemide, Dada Cucine and Kartell, de Lucchi hails from Ferrara and graduated with a degree in architecture in Florence. During the period of experimental architecture, he was a prominent figure in movements like Cavart, Alchymia and Memphis. From 1992 to 2002, he served as the Director of Design for Olivetti. He also developed projects for Compaq Computers, Philips, Siemens, and Vitra. His experience extends to designing and restoring buildings in Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and in Italy for Enel, Olivetti, Piaggio, Poste Italiane, and Telecom Italia. 

    The other scheduled guests are equally distinguished. Milana graduated with a degree in Industrial Design from the Istituto Europeo del Design di Milano in 2003 and moved to New York two years later. He went on to found his own eponymous studio based in both cities, but all of his chairs are handmade in Milan. In his design practice and philosophy Milana is interested in exploring craft, functionality and simplicity, and in merging the worlds of the artisan and technology.

    Milani is the Associate Partner at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, a leader in architectural design and sustainability based in New York, and holds a PhD from the Polytechnic University of Milan. He made his way to the States in 2006 after participating in an international competition for the design of the Palazzo Lombardia.

    Last but not least, Wajskol is also an Italian designer with one foot rooted in European design and the other firmly planted in Manhattan. For the past 27 years, he has served as Creative Director for Designwajskol, an internationally known strategic design agency. And for the past 18, he has been a faculty member at Parsons School of Design. His expertise spans everything from print, new media, and packaging to corporate design programs. 

    Italian Design Day in Los Angeles
    Pacific Design Center
    5:00 pm
    RSVP to losangeles.stampa@esteri.it

    The IIC of Los Angeles has also organized a discussion under the auspices of the Consulate General at the beautiful Pacific Design Center, iconic for its brilliant blue glass cladding. Two Italian architects operating for years in California, Elena Pacenti (Dean of Domus Academy School of Design in San Diego) and Carlo Caccavale (Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles), will join architect Lorenzo Damiani, an appreciated protagonist of the Italian and international scene, in an architect-clad panel.

    Damiani received his degree in architecture from the Polytechnic University of Milan and was designated an "Ambassador of Design" by the MAECI. He focuses on furniture and product design and has collaborated with many famous specialized companies. Some of his works are on display at the Chicago Athenaeum, Museo della Triennale, and Vitra Museum.

  • Facts & Stories

    Vandals Burn Controversial Palm Trees in Milan

    Last year, Starbucks Coffee Company announced a partnership to open their first store in Italy in early 2017. Since then, the launch has been postponed to 2018. However, the initial backlash recently resurfaced after the global coffee giant carried out on their plans to renovate the garden in Milan’s central Piazza del Duomo.

    The project is part of a contract Starbucks won to restyle the green spaces surrounding the equestrian monument to Victor Emmanuel II for the next three years. The hornbeams and Clerondendrum previously planted in the flowerbeds have been transferred to other parts of the city. To the dismay of many, they were replaced by rows of palm trees and will soon be joined by banana plants.

    Starbucks-sponsored palm trees go up in flames

    Amid a dispute over the non-native plants at one of the Italy’s most celebrated cathedrals, three of the 42 palm trees were set ablaze in an overnight attack early Sunday. Only one of the trees, standing at 15 feet tall, suffered extensive damage to its trunk.

    No buzz was raised until the morning when local police reached the scene in response to a photo that circulated on Facebook. Authorities are still checking surveillance camera footage.

    Right-wing groups rail against “Africanization”

    The palm trees struck a chord in particular with the city government's center-right factions, who condemn the “Africanization” of the historic piazza. In fact, the incident followed a protest on Saturday organized by the anti-immigrant Northern League party and CasaPound, a radical rightwing movement.

    Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, who regularly denounces Italy’s acceptance of tens of thousands of migrants entering from the Mediterranean, described the planting of the trees as "madness.” He continued, “Now we only need sand and camels for the illegal immigrants to feel at home.”

    Varying views divide the city

    The trees have rallied some approval with supporters saying they add a touch of fin-de-siècle sophistication.

    Antonella Ranaldi, a city official, pointed out that there were palm trees in the same square back in the 19th century and reassured that the groves were only temporary. “It’s an experiment and it will last a few years,” she said.

    On the other hand, Mayor Giuseppe Sala had said that he wasn't "very enthusiastic about the idea." However, he also alluded to the historic precedent in an attempt to reason the logic behind the Superintendent’s approval of the plan.

    A few in opposition deride them as "kitsch,” such as Paolo Pejrone, a well-known garden designer and architect.

    “Planting these species in Piazza del Duomo seems like a neo-Gothic folly to me,” he wrote in La Repubblica newspaper. “The bananas are a courageous choice but a bit kitsch,” he said, while the palms looked out of place in northern Italy. “I fear they are going to have a tough time there, in the heart of Milan.”

    It should be noted that while palms are indeed not native to Italy, they are widespread in more temperate areas of the country, including Rome, the Riviera, and Sicily. The trees in Milan are of a cold-resistant variety expected to survive the northern city's chilly winters.

    Others simply criticize Starbucks involvement

    Many critics are not upset with the palm trees themselves, but rather that Starbucks had sponsored the project in its entirety.

    Salvini also said, "I do not like that a multinational comes and decides what to do in one of the most beautiful squares in the world. It is as if McDonald's were to deck out St.Mark's Square and fill it with French fries everywhere, or the Colosseum."

    Numerous amounts of oppositionists view the arrival of Starbucks as an invasion. Not only has Italy perfected coffee, the Starbucks approach is very different from Italian café culture. Italians mostly favor making coffee at home and when they do go out for it they drink espresso shots or cappuccinos standing at the bar. Furthermore, they visit independent cafes over chains and pay inexpensive prices. Not to mention, they consider American coffee bland and inferior and would never dare to consume a Frappuccino made with pumps of sugary syrups and topped with whipped cream.

    To add insult to injury, last week the colossal coffeehouse chain revealed their plans to open 300 outlets across the country when the majority of Italians were already alarmed with the news of just the one.

  • Life & People

    A Conversation with CFO of Apple Luca Maestri

    Last week the Consulate General of Italy in New York hosted Luca Maestri, Chief Financial Officer of Apple Inc., in conversation with journalist and award winning author, Maria Teresa Cometto. The evening was sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute and is the first of the series “Managers: from Italy to Top Global Businesses,” which focuses on the excellence of Italian human capital and personal success stories, presenting Italian top managers who hold important positions in global companies.

    Consul General Francesco Genuardi opened the evening, welcoming Maestri and acknowledging his investment in Naples as an expression of how much he believes in Italy as an innovative country. (Last year, Apple partnered with the Università di Napoli to open the first ever iOS Developer Academy in Europe.)

    Maestri was born in Rome, where he went on to receive a Bachelor of Economics from Luiss University before receiving his Master of Science in Management from Boston University. He joined Apple in 2013, preceded by his 20 years at General Motors and his succeeding time at Nokia Siemens Networks and Xerox. After living in Switzerland, Brazil, and Germany—to name just a few of the many countries his family once called home, he now resides with his wife and two children in Cupertino, California.

    Before introducing Cometto, Genuardi thanked all the Italians who hold key roles in the US for their pride in their Italian heritage, Maestri included. Cometto is based in New York and has been covering business and high-tech for Corriere della Sera since 2000. Naturally, her first question for Maestri was whether or not he put an Italian espresso machine in his office, as he told her he would four years ago. Fortunately, he didn’t have to because an Italian has been running Apple’s food services since ’97. He boasted, “We have the best Italian coffee that you can find in the US.” From there, Cometto probed him on a diverse array of topics from his personal life to how Italian entrepreneurs can successfully compete in the global market.

    The Italian Education System and the Labor Market

    As Cometto mentioned, Maestri was recognized as the alumnus of the year at Luiss. In fact, throughout the evening Maestri expressed his gratitude to his alma mater and stressed his confidence in the Italian education system. He explained how he’s worked all over the world, including in the US, Latin America, Asia, and many European countries, and is “absolutely convinced that Italy has a phenomenal education system.” He believes students come out of Italian schools extremely well prepared, particularly when they combine a business degree with a classical education.

    However, he is concerned about the linkage between the academic world and the labor market. “That’s something that needs to be worked on in Italy: creating an interrelation between what you learn in school and coming out with a university degree to getting a job.”

    He also lamented that the Italian youth is “resigned to the fact that opportunities are not there.” He acclaimed, “What the young people need to understand is that it’s truly much easier to have global opportunities today than it was 30 years ago. The Internet has really made the world flat. If you have the ambition and the willingness to take a limited amount of risks, the opportunities are there and the foundation from an education standpoint is there.”

    Italians in the Digital Industry

    According to Maestri, the Italian education system matched with Italian creativity will allow the country to continue to produce individuals who will contribute to the digital industry. Similar to his earlier reluctance, he is skeptical about the ability of an Italian company to actually drive some of this innovation. Not because Italians are not capable but because Italian startups do not have the same availability of capital as Silicon Valley. His two more concerns are the availability of engineering talent (which was the driving force behind the training center in Europe) and the bureaucracy that surrounds the business world in Italy.

    Furthermore, he believes that there are several other industries that Italian entrepreneurs can compete successfully in the global market. As he explained, “I’ve learned that you can spend your life working on your strengths or you can spend your life working on your weaknesses. I think it’s much more productive at some point just to work on your strengths.” For example, he does not suggest that Italy pursue a venture that requires scale. “We are great at design from industrial to interior. We created fashion, food, in general artisanship. We’re not great at making the most. We’re really good at making the best, which is by the way the recipe at Apple.”

    His Time at Xerox

    Though Maestri left his post as Executive Vice President and CFO at Xerox for Apple, he reflects on his experience there with great respect. At the time the company was undergoing a major business shift into a services enterprise. As Cometto explained, Xerox was “trying to change from its traditional business—the famous priming machine—to the new digital products.” This transformation demonstrated to Maestri “how a company needs to adapt because what works today is not necessarily going to work 20 years from now.” He continued, “It really taught me that companies need to be able to adjust and that living with what you had in the past is not going to be sufficient for the future.”

    Italians at Apple

    When questioned about the vast amount of Italians working at Apple, Maestri credited Italy’s aforementioned “world class” education system. He also explained that Apple values diversity. “Apple really is big on inclusion and diversity. It’s something that Steve promoted from the very beginning as a son of immigrants. We believe that having as many perspectives as possible within the company will allow us to make better products.”

    Generally, this mentality is typical throughout the global market. Maestri can personally attest that not only has he not fought against stereotypes, but also that his Italian heritage has been a huge asset for his success.

    Maestri and His Family’s Personal iPhone Usage

    Maestri wakes up every morning at 4:30, but he’s not all work and no play. While he uses the Bloomberg app a lot for its real time information on financial markets, he prefers his sports apps like ESPN. In fact, if he had to choose another career he would like to be a sports journalist, which was a notable revelation after he shared that “the apps on your iPhone screen are a mirror of your life.” He also likes OpenTable and isn’t big on social media.

    Given the company he works for, it’s funny that he’s confronted with the issue of regulating technology for his children. But, as he pointed out, it’s a problem all parents face. He admits, “These devices absorb so much of kids’ lives and it’s a bit of a challenge to set the boundaries” Therefore, his wife decided to use Circle as a means to moderate their children's iPhones and iPads. The product is a small box that controls all of the devices on the home network and allows parents to pause screens at whatever given time without having to physically take the apparatuses away. While his kids still get a little hostile (less so than before), he’s thankful that they’re not glued to the screens when they’re at school.