Festival To Design Today

September 01, 2011


The basic idea for the celebration of the twentieth anniversary is linked to the organization of numerous and significant cultural events of international standing, spread across space of one year: from May 2011 to June 2012. The aim of these events is to approach the creative components of architecture, design, communication, arts in general, and have them converse with the academic, institutional, productive components.

The reference format that has been considered is the one of the cultural development festivals. It has been at least a decade since festivals organised in mid-sized towns have found their place. These festivals are marked by the presence of historical centres, impressive palaces, squares and spaces, where one can breathe in the air of Italy: places that open their arms to a public interested in the use and enjoyment of outstanding "live" cultural contents, focused on specific and current themes.

The crowded public of the festivals – the child of the culture that mass-education contributed to "create" – is undoubtedly interested in further investigation into themes, all the while being attracted by the possibility of enjoying some free time, listening to engaging and informed live talks by historians, writers, film-makers, philosophers, architects, etc., people who can also be drawn into direct conversion.

These contemporary festivals are usually based on a unit of theme, place, time (the latter is increasingly concentrated in few days, as a result of the current economic crisis) and the absolute players of these events are word and concepts, clearly linked to the reputation and the work of the present speakers.

For the 20th anniversary – concisely indicated through the acronym XfafX, following on from the Xfaf, 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Faculty that took place in 2003, – we drew our inspiration from those events.

The theme unit (To design today) is still in place in the XfafX, the themes of time (through a schedule of events expanded throughout a whole year) and place (Ferrara, Tassoni Estense Palace, but also prediction of developing individual initiatives of the festival in other cities and spaces of the cultural, institutional or productive geography of the country) are reinterpreted and adapted to the specific occasion.

We have assigned a wide horizon of exploration to the declination of the central theme of the festival ("Design"), linking the potential declinations for closer examinations to the meaning that the English word implicitly brings with it, whether you look at it as a substantive (“intention”, “purpose”, “plan”, “aim”, “figure”, “basic structure”) or as a verb (“to devise”, “to simulate”, “to imagine”, “to sketch”, “to organize”, “to act strategically”).

Design, therefore, as a visionary creation activity and, generally, as a project within the trends of fluid contemporary society. The central and fundamental axis of the festival is formed by a numerous series of thematic Conferences, considered as an updated reworking of the “Lectio magistralis”. Erudite and exceptional lessons in relation to ordinary university didactics, seen as significant institutional moments, opportunities for meeting and discussion with the academic community in respect to the eminent personalities invited and the outside world involved in initiatives for the 20th Anniversary with roles of Sponsors, Supporters, Partners.

The basic idea is to revaluate the Lectio magistralis tradition within the university institution – since it has been the only depositary, for a long time – inviting numerous international leading figures and committing to the innovation of the format of development, presentation and communication–sharing the events related to the different audiences of reference.

The declination of the theme of the To Design Today festival – marked by the discontinuous and punctual development of the Lectio magistralis – will be lively and enriched during the intervals between one conference and the next, by means of a series of cultural initiatives with different formats: exhibitions, installations, workshops, seminars, awards, and book presentations.


Alfonso Acocella

XfafX Scientific Head

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MD Material Design
ISSN 2239-6063

edited by
Alfonso Acocella