Research activity at the University of Florence, 2005-2010

Rights through Making
PhD research theme, within the International Research collaboration between the Eindhoven University of Technology 
and the University of Florence, 2007/2011 –

Role: Research coordinator, researcher, students’ supervisor.
The lack of solutions for the complexities of the modern world, such as environmental issues, cultural clashes, ideological warfare and the breakdown of cultures indicate that we might have touched upon the limits of the rationally and positively driven practice of the Western world. Words and communication often overshadow actions and deeds, instead of jointly working towards a solution. We plea for integrating knowledge and skills, i.e., the cognitive skills of the designer as well as his/her perceptual-motor, emotional and social skills. We believe that design thinking, where action and thinking are combined, could take the lead in developing a new approach to these global problems. Sharing the “language of making” might break down the barriers between people, ideologies and communities, while, at the same time, preserving diversity.
This research aims to demonstrate that the positive consequences of using the power of making, conjugated with local design culture, to pave the way for a new way of communicating and a new way of thinking, i.e. “reflection-on-action, a new synthesis”. Designing products and systems should take advantage of the newest technologies available to mankind and of their integration with the locally available “making” skills and techniques – saper fare – respecting, therefore enriching, habitats and cultures.
Our approach started with the creation of workshops to be held around the world. During these workshops, designers from the participating countries design products or systems (communication, services, business, education) that empower, entice and seduce people to reach the ideals contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through “to kalon”, a synthesis of beauty and good. With the use of such products, we aspire to promote the respect of human rights, as part of the everyday life of multicultural societies.
By applying this approach, the long-term aim is to achieve a fundamental change in thought processes, communication and action.

INPUT, involving people in universal towns
Leonardo da Vinci is the European Community’s vocational training program. Firenze, 2007/09

Role: Researcher. 
The objective of the project is to implement Planning Guidelines to be used as a training and self-training tool, to support initiatives that apply the principles of Universal Design to the organization of urban centers.  
It is therefore about overcoming both the concept of removing architectural barriers and the principle of accessibility for the disabled, together the object of now-codified regulations. Project INPUT has taken into consideration non-‘material’ or architectural aspects such as schedules, approaches,  coordination of public services; taking into account that Universal Design is based on an evolution of the concept of “non-disabled” and “disabled” to one of individual specificity.  
The principal final product, Design Guidelines, constitute a work tool for those who – public administrators and planners, but also entrepreneurs – are responsible for organizing city life.

Yakers’ check before flight
Research project financed by Aeronautica Militare, A. A. 2007/08
Role: Students’ supervisor and researcher. 
The research started with the design of a brand, inspired to the acrobatic aviation experience. The brand expresses some values of this world that emerged during the analysis process, and transforms them into design products, by basing them on these keywords: functionality, attention, emergency. A transfer of technological knowledge has been operated from the world of aviation to everyday life. The project has produced a graphic concept, based on the brand values, and a corporate identity, together with a fashion collection of clothing and smart accessories.

Research financed by the Ministry of University and Research (Miur) 60% – Firenze, 2005/06

Role: Students’ supervisor, researcher and designer.
This research has explored how new technologies can support the B2B Interior Design Industries. This sector, that is going through a sensible crisis in Tuscany, needs new opportunities to address new markets and exploit completely its potentialities. Following the principles of Ambient Intelligence, the research has explored innovative materials and enabling technologies to create intelligent environments in hotel spaces. Supplies for hotel still constitute a big slice of production for the local companies, but the scarce specialization of this sector is working as a inhibitor. – Toscana Agroalimentare Sistema Tecnologico Evoluto – Network
Research financed by the Tuscan Regional government: DOCUP OB. 2, 2006, Misura 1.7 Trasferimento dell’innovazione alle PMI, Azione 1.7
 Reti per il trasferimento tecnologico della Regione Toscana – Firenze, 2005/06

Role: Students’ supervisor and researcher. 
The aim of the project was to define an ICT network for food and agricultural resources and for food transformation industry in Tuscany. The project individuates a strategic weave of territory resources – art, history, cultural, artistic and architectonic heritage, events – to increase the territories potentialities of interest. This weave is used as a starting point to reposition the area in the national and international economic panorama. The alimentary resources are here valued not as gastronomic localism, but as an autonomous medium for the regional development, as strategic element to know the places and the products that they produce and as a driving element among other manufacturing systems. The work has consisted of: designing the logo, interface design of the internet portal, individuation and structuring of the content of the site home page and content development.

Land Flower Design
Research project commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Pistoia, Firenze, 2007/08

Role: Students’ supervisor and researcher. 
The flower-growing area of Pistoia region was analyzed, to create an organic overview of highlighting the essence and identity of the territory. To achieve this objective, the first step has been a literature and a market research of useful data and qualities of the area, the image that is transmitted through mass media and through the analysis of the figurative/evocative heritage. The project has been developed on a double track, which combined scientific research and design to create a renewed design culture, that trace ideas and formal energies able to make products unique and suggestive.

Research project commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Pistoia, Firenze, 2006/07

Role: Students’ supervisor and researcher. 
Reflecting on the present state of economic crisis in Europe and by interpreting the new phenomenon of “new luxury”, particularly referred to the world of fashion accessories; we applied a transfer of knowledge into the the field of accessories for the home by identifying new patterns of behavior related to the new concept of luxury. The concept for the realization of the conceived project is mutuated from the world of bionics.

Leonardo da Vinci, European Community’s vocational training program. Firenze, 2004/06

Role: Researcher and designer.
The project’s aim was to realize guidelines to design Universal Design compliant products, contributing as such, in creating and consolidating a design culture that goes beyond the simplification of standards and looks at each individual’s diversity as a richness and no longer as an obstacle for designers. Diversity is transformed into a resource for the realization of a human environment that is increasingly inclusive, comfortable and safe for everyone.

FoodDesign Alimentarevolution
Research project commissioned by Pistoia’s Chamber of Commerce, Firenze, 2005/06

Role: Students’ supervisor and researcher. 
Starting from the analysis of the Tuscan productive alimentary system, the project is based on the awareness of the social changes that have led to the transformation of habits and behaviors, also concerning nutrition. It aims to design for a new season of taste, based on traditions, mixtures of antique cultures that can work as a sophisticated and refined melange of tastes and knowledge. The project is a design synthesis consisting in the reinterpretation of the traditional italian gastronomic contents into new-luxury products for the international market.

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