Interaction-Ivrea legacy is getting lost

Interaction Design Institute Ivrea
Interaction Design Institute Ivrea ceased to exist nearly five months ago. It survived for a while in Milan (hosted by the Domus Academy), but that is now also finished.

I am not going to analyse the politics of the decline here (a blog post is not enough!) nor the financial intricacies of it all (although a full account of it wouldn’t be bad). Suffice it to say that many Interaction-Ivrea graduates are working for major international companies and that also two of the four Experientia founders are former Interaction-Ivrea staff members (Jan-Christoph Zoels and myself).

That said, the website of Interaction-Ivrea used to be an access point to rich content on projects and on people. I worked on it a lot to help assure that. No longer so.

Although all the content is technically still there (including interviews with people like John Maeda, Ranjit Makkuni and Nathan Shedroff), most of it is not accessible anymore from the home page. The same thing applies to the personal student sites (which former students can no longer update or correct) or staff bio pages. The “people” and “news” menu buttons are no longer even active.

It has become a dead site, which is not managed anymore and with most of the content hardly accessible.

This is not the place now to point fingers. The decline of Interaction-Ivrea was in my mind a process of immense value destruction. It is quite disheartening to see that this now seems to continue.

The main comfort is that good people went through the place and are now changing the fields of interaction design, experience design, and people-centred design all over the world, including here in Italy itself.


  1. Ok forget the previous one, it seems like the comment posting thing as some problem when used via Firefox, so I’ll post my original comment on this here again.

    It looks like Made in Italy should be confined to low-tech handmade products, made by few creative minds. Hi-tech things are else (and far) away.

    What happened to Interaction Design Institute Ivrea is just another prove of how every Italian effort in the opposite direction goes garbage. But the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, in my humble opinion, was doomed to end this way since the very beginning.

    They started with the wrong foot since the kick off: there was no communcation of the whole thing outside its ‘elitarian’ walls, admission fees and process were absolutely nonsense considered the Country economical and academical background. In Italy universities are 99% state run and admission fees are popular (one result’s being academical quality is at world lowest). For Italians, if they knew of it, admission wasn’t affordable; as a result students were mainly (if not all) from abroad. In Italy we say (alas, I’m from Turin): oltre il danno, anche la beffa.

    The Interaction Design Institute Ivrea failure, in the end, leaves me quite indifferent, but if I have to use an emoticon to express my feelings on this, it would be a huge :D.

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it and what happened to another innovative Ivrea son was already there as a memento for all, its name was Olivetti.

    Maybe there will be another chance, maybe there will be not; the last one that leaves the Country, please kill the light.

  2. Dear Alessandro Piana Bianco,
    the reasons why Interaction Design Institute Ivrea ceased to exist are far far away from what you said in your comment, that is, by the way, simply a series of platitudes, or commonplaces, and false statements.

    Of course the Institute itself had its own responsibility in what happened, and made some mistakes, but it’s mainly a story about politics and financial intricacies, as Mark said in his post. I’m an IDII graduate, and i live and work in Turin, so i know pretty well the situation of Italy and, in particular, of Turin regarding university, innovation and politics.
    Maybe you were not accepted in the selections (it Italy we say ‘La volpe e l’uva’), or you are a snob nihilist, who could change the world if only someone had given to him the chance, or both… but i’m indifferent about your motivation. Simply note that:
    a) communication between the design-interaction design-hci community (not a so-small community, if you think globally) was excellent
    b) communication towards local institutions was extremely difficult, but the same local institutions (even some Telecom’s branches) were ‘somehow’ hostile and considered it a possible threat (that’s my opinion)
    c) admission fees and process were what an Institution like that need
    d) when i was accepted, i got a scolarship who covered completely the fees, for both years
    e) it’s false that academical quality in Italy is at world lowest
    f) it’s really absurd to link academical quality to admission fees
    g) the story about Olivetti is a sad one, but it’s completely different one, nothing to do with IDII
    h) hi-tech things are not far away, but are few here (in Turin) and THAT’s the problem: no variety, no local competition, few chances for newcomers

    You can laugh ( :D ) if you like it, be indifferent, or whatelse, but please try at least to be honest (not with IDII) but with you, your country, your city.

  3. Dear tangiblemind (if only I knew we had to use the teenage chat room nickname…),

    Just to made some few points clear:

    – I wasn’t accepted because I never applied, if you carefully read my post you find no mention on this; but maybe you were more attentive to read what you wanted to read.

    – Communication between the design-interaction design-hci community was possibly great, alas there’s much more than this out there. Maybe if you had the time to stop masturbating among your parias you would have noticed.

    admission fees and process were what an Institution like that need

    , I’m afraid the results speak for themselves.

    – Frankly your scholarship is not the standard everyone is testing against; You were lucky, rest of the world wasn’t.

    – Academical quality in Italy is at world lowest and all yearly international charts on universities and academical scores are there to testify that (there are so many of them that you denying it won’t pass the laugh test).

    – The story of the Olivetti has a lot to do with the IDII but I think this is a topic that would need really a story of its own.

    – Again, facts about hi-tech being elsewhere are so clear and evident, and more and more this will be the case, that yours (or mine) thoughts are frankly of no point at all.

    In Italy you say La Volpe e l’uva, I’m not really sure you know what you are talking about here, but as for videogames I’ll stick to a suspicion of disbelief state for a while…


  4. It’s SUSPENSION of disbelief, not suspicion, btw.

    Just few and short replies:
    – you never applied ok, i had only a doubt (‘maybe you…’)
    – when i was there, that kind of scolarship was a standard for italian students
    – high admission fees were obvious for a private institution with that kind of equipment, that professors/students ratio, that series of visiting lecturers

    Above those silly details, what still remains here in your first comment is that snob nihilistic approach, that is the really BIG problem we have in Turin and in Italy:
    ‘ah! another thing gone bad! we’re living in a poooor country… BUT look! they were so stupid! they made the worst in a so silly context, they were so expensive… they should had been cheaper (btw, if you are cheap you are going to get poor results). But, at the end, i’m happy about that end of the story, i’m laughing… because they were so stupid; they should remember the past (as i do, ’cause i’m so smart…).

    It’s ‘irresistible’ to see other go bad, and so easy to talk in that way!

    So, please try to write down in few points what a new school should do at its best in order to develop well, be a reference in its field, sustain itself, help the country where it resides, etc. and look at how many of them are in contrast to each other and how they can be influenced by external situations/conflicts.

    Problems weren’t ‘too few italian students’ or ‘too expensive fees’ or ‘few communication in Italy’, but (i think) very few leaders (political, industrial, financial) able to understand what is worthy and what not, an almost ‘closed’ system, with the same names and connections from 30 years ago until now, with a shortsighted mindset.

    Please note, and i’m closing here, that at the same time when Telecom Italia decided to invest no more in IDII and in SCuola Superiore G. Reiss Romoli, and reduce the investments in DA , Telecom spent a bigger amount of money to sponsor several sailing teams… it’s in its power of course, but maybe it could be an indicator of what it considers most valueable for itself…

  5. Again, on Italian Universities, a small press review:

    Buon per lui che non la ingoiò, Paolo De Coppi, l’esca messa all’amo della leggina «Rientro dei cervelli». Peggio per l’Italia e buon per lui che se ne restò all’estero, a studiare le cellule staminali fino alla clamorosa scoperta finita ieri sulle prime pagine di tutto il mondo. Quelli che tornarono, adescati dalla prospettiva di entrare nelle università superando barricate burocratiche, trincee baronali e ragnatele sindacali, si ritrovano infatti a rimpiangere il posto perduto in America, Olanda o Germania e a fare i conti con le solite vecchie regolette corporative di un sistema abnorme. Dove due numeri dicono tutto: su 18.651 docenti di ruolo, quelli con meno di 35 anni (l’età di De Coppi) sono 9: lo zero virgola zero cinque per cento. Al contrario, quelli con più di 65 anni sono 5.647: il 30,3%. Eppure lo sanno, quelli che governano il mondo universitario.

    Lavorano fino a 45 ore a settimana e non raggiungono i 1000 euro di stipendio. E sono molto stressati. Si tratta di più della metà dei ricercatori scientifici, assunti con contratti di collaborazione e quindi precari. La media dei salari si attesta tra gli 800 e i 1.200 euro al mese. E possono anche ritenersi fortunati: un ex “” su tre, infatti, guadagna meno di 800 euro netti al mese. E’ quanto emerge da un rapporto promosso da Nidil Cgil e realizzato dal Cer. Non solo però il guadagno è basso (il 65% degli interpellati si lamenta della propria condizione economica), ma anche la qualità della vita lascia a desiderare. Il lavoro infatti impegna il tempo della gran parte della giornata. Va considerato infatti che il 50%, e quindi un ex su due, lavora più di 38 ore alla settimana, con punte anche di 45 ore.

    Una vera bufera politica si sta scatenando nella maggioranza dopo la scoperta di un altro “emendamento nascosto” nella Finanziaria appena approdata alla Camera. Questa volta la battaglia si scatena sul mondo universitario. E i fondi di si discute non sonoi pochi: cento milioni destinati alle università private, nascosti in due commi del maxi emendamento – il 603 e 604 – sfuggiti ai più.

    ci sono trentasette mini-facoltà con un solo studente. Poi ce ne sono dieci con 2 frequentatori, altre dieci con 3, altre quindici con 4, altre otto con cinque e altre ventitré con 6 giù giù fino a un totale di 323 «universitine» che non arrivano a 15 iscritti.

    Alla centesima laurea ad honorem, in 6 mesi, il ministro Mussi ha detto stop: troppe. (…) sono solo i primi di moltissimi nomi che sbucano da una ricerca con Google (voci honoris causa e ad honorem, solo pagine in italiano, 517.000 risultati).

    Finanziamenti, crediti, laurea breve
    perché i nostri Atenei sono al collasso.

    Così l’imprecisione, l’inesattezza, la cialtroneria, la demagogia – questo è per molti italiani la cultura moderna – si diffondono. Non saranno né imprecisi né inesatti i cinesi e gli indiani che, un giorno, verranno a colonizzare la cultura universitaria italiana.

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