Showing posts from January, 2012

Italian Design's Best Kept Secret: How the Old Helps the New

On a recent Sunday evening I was given an unusual insight in what makes Italian design so successful. It happened at the fair for young Italian designers, the A.I.Fair (it stands for Artisanal Intelligence) held on 29 January in Emperor Hadrian's Temple in the suggestive Piazza di Pietra in old Rome.

A eureka moment!

But I didn't know that when I got there with my husband around 7 pm. It was a beautiful night, with a young moon in the clear sky and I felt relaxed and romantic. And mildly curious. Here's the Temple:

Majestic! And here's the entrance, hidden among the ancient columns:

Once in, we were met by a noisy and colorful crowd, with a big video screen at one end of the vast hall:

Lots of stands manned by young people, all showing the most eclectic and inventive array of design and fashion products, ranging from weird hats:

to a variety of rings:



Hummm, a bit heavy, those heels...and when I climbed up to the mezzanine that girds the big hall, I d…

Italy in Revolt: First Protest against Monti's Government... a Flop!

Italy in revolt! Today, January 27 2012, starting at 12:30 pm, people converged on Piazza San Giovanni in Rome to protest against Monti's package of measures to fix the debt problem and stimulate the economy. The police, expecting the worst, had cordoned off the streets and a helicopter surveyed the scene:

Here the protesters march down the Viale Carlo Felice, coming from Piazza della Repubblica where they had convened earlier this morning:

Most of them are middle-aged, some are even old and there's only one group of young people, about fifty of them, walking behind a sign which says "Students and Workers United - General Strike". 

Note the hammer and sickle: long time, no see! 

Actually there were very few such reminders of Communism, although I did note some leftovers from radical parties, weakily waiving antiquated flags, and a couple of young TAV protesters (TAV is the high speed train that is supposed to link Italy to France and has roused the ire of environmentalis…

The American Credit Rating Agencies are in Trouble in Italy: is it the Beginning of the End?

Image via WikipediaThe American credit rating agencies are often seen as the villains of the financial world, particularly by governments whose debt is downgraded. The credit rating agencies  have held hostage the Euro-zone governments, starting first with Greece and moving on steadily through the Euro-zone until France was knocked off its triple A on January 13, together with Italy and a number of other Euro-zone countries, sparing only the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and of course Germany. But Germany for the first time got a negative outlook to it's Triple A - suggesting that with any downturn in the European economic outlook, even Germany risked its Triple A. 

Then on 16 January S&P downgraded the European Bailout Fund (the EFSF - European Financial Stability Facility) because it is backed by downgraded countries, chief among them France...In practice, this does not affect the EFSF lending capacity of €440 million that is in place until the European Stability Mechanism

Occupy Wall Street? No, Occupy Rome and March to Athens!

Tents have come up by the dozen all over Rome, with posters of protest. Was it another Occupy Wall Street in the making? 

On January 14, I decided to take a stroll and find out. I came up to the old walls of Rome at the San Giovanni gate:

Crossing the gate, you arrive upon the vast piazza of San Giovanni, with the Church hiding behind the trees:

Across from it is St. Francis' statue, raising his arms to the sky and...covered with posters and surrounded by tents:

What do the posters say? There were more than I could take in, but the protest messages were quite clear:


Here you have to interpret a little: made in China = slavery, referring no doubt to the low pay and hard wok conditions of Chinese workers. And next to it in Spanish: This is not Woodstock, This is (a fight for) Justice (literally: this is not Woodstock, this is Right).

Far from not having any political ideas, they seem to be boiling over with them (with possibly some not quite "baked"). Here is one of the …