Some Fancy Skills’ Bars
I’ve always thought that learning to do something is a process that can be approached in several different ways. So sometimes I study, even a lot, sometimes I copy or steal ideas (yes, why not?), sometimes I just jump into whatever no matter what, and then learn how to sort it out simply by doing it. It’s the fine Art of Surviving Your Own Assignments, trying and get out of them the best possible way, which very often matches the very possible way ever. I’ve developed quite some skills in the field, throughout all this time. And would you believe it? I still have a lot of fun putting myself deep into troubles and finding the way out. Every time it’s a big adventure and it gives me a lot of adrenaline, which is by the way the main reason why I still look so young and handsome.
- Communication 80% 80%
- Digital Media Design & Production 90% 90%
- Graphic Design 70% 70%
- Online Marketing 80% 80%
- Product Marketing 60% 60%
- Area Marketing 85% 85%
- Events Design and Production 93% 93%
- Corporate Restructuring and Management 85% 85%
- Customer Happiness 99% 99%
Where it all started
Getting my hands dirty with computer hardware
Self Made Multimedia Project Manager
One day, while cleaning up the computers’ warehouse, I found a folder containing what looked like a project of a multimedia application about a natural park between Umbria and Lazio (two regions of central Italy). Precisely the territory where my family comes from. And it was all about ecosystems, fauna and flora and of course a sustainability project regarding a power plant built precisely in the middle of such an area. When asked about it, my boss told me that was a proposal of a couple of weeks before that nobody wanted to deal with because of total lack of competence in the fields within the Concept Design team in the company. I asked him if I could give it a try thanks to my background as ecology specialized biologist and he had nothing against it, unless I’d go on with my job. After 1 month of study and preparation, mostly while traveling, I came out with a fully detailed project and there my career as Creative Designer of Multimedia Projects started. 2 months after I was installing myself (of course!) the info point by this beautiful ancient building in Civita di Bagnoregio, which later became the museum of the park. My first multimedia vision came true.
Traveling the world after my creations
Time for a change and an upgrade!
At the beginning of 1995 Infobyte, the company I was currently working for and I’d stepped in 3 years before while being a group of about 15 people, bought an entire (luxurious) building in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Rome and moved there, because in the meanwhile their staff became of about 100 people including graphic designers, 3d modelers, audiovisual operators, programmers, editors, technicians and managers. That happened thanks to their commercial skills of course, helped by deep connection with politics and huge companies, but as well thanks to the enormous amount of work that people like me could perform and the amazing results they could deliver. As it often happens, this growth wasn’t proportional with the salaries. Tired of having growing responsibilities on my shoulders and always being payed the same amount of money, I decided to start looking around. After having participated to Media 1995 in Cannes, I just sent my CV to the nearby 60 Italian companies which at those times were already busy with multimedia or just simple startups. Motivation letter and a CV in an envelope, old style – no emails yet. They all replied! They all invited me for an intake! More than 80% wanted me as their Head of Production. I just had to choose which one. And I chose a startup in Rome, Immagini Interattive, whose owner was someone very well known in the Italian movie production’s field. We would start building a new generation of video games, based on Interactive Storytelling. And our headquarters would be based inside Cinecittà, the famous studios in Rome where Fellini among the many others contributed to the history of Cinema, exactly above his beloved teatro 5. The opportunity was too good to be true, a dream. And finally I could earn what I always thought I deserved. In the same year we traveled as a team to Los Angeles, California, to attend Siggraph 1995. There we met with Carlo Rambaldi, the several times Oscar prize awarded for special effects, creator of some of the most famous movie audio-animatronics, like King Kong, ET, Alien and many more. He would become a strategic partner in our newborn company and a friend who I’d meet again in an unexpected development of my professional future. I must say that yes, I was quite satisfied with my choice!
New horizons open, new business, new experiences
My first company: The Brain Farm
During the production of the 50 years of Vespa‘s CD in 1996, I got in contact with Max Pinucci, owner of a graphic studio in Pontedera, Piaggio’s so called “company town” in Tuscany, nearby Pisa. I’ve always had a passion for the countryside and Tuscany above all places, so when he proposed me to start there a business together I just couldn’t say no. Although my position in Rome with Immagini Interattive was just perfectly fitting for me, I felt a sort of a call from destiny and I decided to follow my instinct. We were at the verge of what it looked like a digital explosion in the international scenario, with Internet businesses growing so fast that you could hardly keep up with what was going on on a daily base. That’s why I imagined a Creative Digital Studio in the Tuscan countryside, in a real farm, rebuilt following the traditional architectural styles of the area, but then connected at a high speed with the Internet backbone of those times. The company’s house quarters should have become a production centre and at the same time a professional training facility for all the necessary skills to be involved in the workflow. But also a resort, where our customers from all over Italy and (why not?) Europe or the whole world could come and spend some time with us, getting a glimpse of what sustainability, tradition and innovation could mean all together. We involved the whole territory of Valdera and Alta Valdera (a wide part of the Pisa’s district) in this endeavour, from public institutions to business partners, starting from Piaggio obviously, and then local governments, universities, artists, everyone and everything. And it was a success. By September 1997 I was moving from Rome to Pontedera, ready to start an exciting new adventure. The Brain Farm was born.
Another very busy year with an unexpected finale...
Together with Paolo Cecchetti as chief software engineer, Paolo Bitossi as video maker and Alessandro Caneschi as art director, The Brain Farm started its lucky stream scoring an assignment by the Italian Military Navy, a CD-ROM to celebrate the new millennium with their history, their ships and heroes. Then the first official website of Piaggio, then suddenly after Gilera‘s one and then Bianchi Bycicles‘s one too. A few corporate and product multimedia presentations for Piaggio (Vespa, Hexagon, Ape). A few corporate videos for Piaggio and Bianchi. And just before the end of the year, the start of a relationship with Italian’s biggest publisher, the Gruppo l’Espresso, with a few CD-ROM titles we agreed to start producing together from 1999 on. But something went wrong up there in paradise, and what looked like a beautiful fairytale with a happily ever after ended up in a sad clash of personalities. That was of course nothing for me, so exactly three days before Christmas I resigned and left the company, heading back to Rome. I realized a couple of weeks after that this was nothing but a little storm before the start of a new great adventure…
My second company: Golemarts
From Golemarts to Materia
With David Zard stepping into Golemarts (changing its name to The Digital Workshop) and thus granting Federico, my partner in business, a fair follow up, I took the decision to leave again and go back to Tuscany. I wasn’t over my “digital farm” dream yet, so I started it all over again, but then by myself only. That’s when I finally started Materia, my own digital media and communication studio. As first act I developed for Materia a corporate award winning website completely in Flash (Actionscript 3.0), then after I won a competition for a € 100k financing by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa for the realization of a web community. The project was called Pianeta Charlie (Planet Charlie) and it was actually the web version of a “friendly phone”, called Charlie, already active for 20 years on the territory and dedicated to adolescents with problems in need of anonymous help by psychologists and other specialists in the matter. I found out later on that everything about the design of this product, from concept to UI and UX, was incredibly similar to Facebook, but then something like 3-4 years before Zuckerberg came out with the idea. Story of my life. Anyway, Pianeta Charlie was the start of an unstoppable series of successes as Web Concept & Graphics Designer/Developer.
Materia: the Dream Builders!
Once reconnected to the network I previously had with The Brain farm (which in the meanwhile had been sold and moved to Milan, so much for the digital farm concept…) I was again a number cruncher of assignments. Contacted by local governments, regional departments and private businesses, I was deploying project after project: websites, printed graphics, digital videos… and events! In May 2003 the local government of Terricciola (Pisa) asked me to design and organise the 41st edition of their traditional Festa dell’Uva e del Vino (Festival of wine and Grapes). I replied with an extended area marketing project, proposing a complete rebranding of the festival and its upgrade from a traditional saga to a first class event, involving V.I.P. testimonials, art, music, theatre and of course the main wine producers of the area, who were starting to upgrade themselves as well to a more professional and also international profile. It was a stunning success with a triplicated number of visitors, which led to the following edition’s assignment, as well as to a new beautiful challenge: the assignment for the creation and design of a Wine Museum. I presented an idea of Echo-museum, through a multi-disciplinar feasibility studio, called DiVino Museo, which was immediately accepted by the mayor and his council. A Foundation around the idea was started, together with the main winemakers of the area plus Fratelli Lunelli (Ferrari), La Spinetta and Castellani Wine. DiVino Museo saw the light in early 2004. In the meanwhile I was teaching Digital Media Design & Technologies by Urban Valdera, professional training school in Pontedera, using funds coming from the EU. My “digital farm” dream started to have shape and ground.
Fiabesque, the Fairy Tales Town
In 2004 I moved Materia’s office to Peccioli, a lovely small middle ages village on a hill nearby Pisa, again together with Max Pinucci and another visionary, Gianni Pirotta, just fallen in there directly from Los Angeles. We weren’t even done with the moving yet that Peccioli’s mayor (knowing about my previous experience in large scale events organization) came to the studio, asking if we could come out with an idea for an event in the winter time, in order to gain some attention for the commercial activities in the village. That’s when Fiabesque was born. We designed this children event which would take place on every Sunday in December and have its clue moment on January the 6th, the day of La Befana, an Italian traditional fictitious figure, a witch on a broom who’s supposed to bring gifts to good children and black coal to bad boys&girls. We would turn the village into the Fairy Tales Town and stage theatrical shows, animation and music all over the place. The entire community was enthusiastic about the idea, and the Festival just started in 2004. It went on until 2013, when the local government could not afford anymore the production and suspended it. I can’t actually mention how much work, how many productions, how many contacts Fiabesque has generated in 9 years. Started as a local event, Fiabesque turned into an international entity, inspiring similar operations all over the world and helping connecting cultures and people. It’s been one of the greatest experiences in my whole life, not only professionally speaking, and I’ll always remember the magic of it, and with me the 150.000 and more people who had the privilege of experiencing it. Although my name has been removed (in 2009 I moved to the Netherlands and Max Pinucci carried on art direction and organisation of the festival), you can still have a glimpse of what Fiabesque has been just clicking right here.
Solidaria, PisaUnicaTerra, PisaVini, Tracce di Tartufo
MateriaLab, FiabesqueLab, Humus
Materia goes to Holland!
In 2009 my sweet wife found an amazing job as Chief Fashion Designer by one of the most important european pret-a-porter women’s fashion labels based in Amsterdam. I might forgot to tell you that she’s Dutch, that she moved to Italy in 2007 and we’ve been living there together for almost 3 years. So she proposed me to go and follow her to the Netherlands, and you know what? I accepted without even thinking about it! I’ve always wanted to live in NL, I was 17 years old the first time I saw Amsterdam and it was love at first sight. No opportunity could have been better than this one to fulfil that old dream of mine! So I did, and in February 2010 I registered in the Zaanstad district, just a few km north of Amsterdam. And of course I moved Materia there with me. And I registered it as MateriaMedia in the Dutch KvK (Chamber of Commerce). Just for a change. In the meanwhile I was one more time in contact with David Zard, yes, him again. My greatest mentor, the Italian live music tycoon. He was just heading to the 8th year in a row with the astounding success of Notre Dame de Paris, the Italian version of the famous French musical, so he proposed me to follow the whole Internet and Social Media strategy for this and all his other productions. And I started again crafting mockups and setting up CMSs (Joomla at that time), with the help of my quite wide international network of collaborators. Notre Dame de Paris, Tosca Amore Disperato, Dracula in Love, for all those shows I’ve been producing all the related digital media and managing their dynamic content. In the meanwhile, the first Dutch customers were popping up…