Ivrea Legacy ... Its like impressive

22 Oct 2008 - 11:40am
7 years ago
4 replies
732 reads
Dave Malouf

While the Ivrea Institute for Interaction Design is gone, its legacy
is alive and well.
http://is.gd/4yXk (Core77.com article).

I have to say that the people I've met connected to IIID were some of
the best, brightest and most thoughtful Interaction Designers I've
met. I'm sorry this resource is gone, as I think it was something
special. I wonder if anyone can really recreate it. I know there are
some trying (mentioned in the article).

I'd love to hear from grads, faculty and staff (if any) on the list
their thoughts about Ivrea and what made it so special and why hasn't
another institution been able to really replicate it. Or maybe I'm
wrong, and there are others, and then I'd love to hear about which
ones are doing it and what they're up to.

- dave

David Malouf


22 Oct 2008 - 11:22pm
Ruth Kikin-Gil

Hey David
I'm glad you've pointed out this article. Oh, the good old days...
Three years ago Erez and I, both IDII Alumni, wrote about the Ivrea
experience for UI garden:


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23 Oct 2008 - 10:28pm
Chris Noessel

What a giant question, David. (And thanks for the blanket
compliments.) I was part of the founding class, and I'd say the
things that made it the thing what it was for me are:

1. A spirit of entrepreneurship. They were still making it up when we
walked in the door. The constraints and pressures of the new school
meant we had to decide what we wanted and make it happen despite the
chaos, and much of the faculty recognized and supported it.

I made a poster with the IDII building flying in the sky with the
X-Files-esque caption "I Want to Believe" and a number of other
students and faculty said they felt the same.

2. Deep pockets. Telecom Italia was the original sponsor for the
program, and rumors ran that they were hoping to turn it into an IP
farm. They were eager to have interaction design expertise flourish
in Italy generally, and were prepared to front lots of money for it.

3. The inclusion of business in the curriculum: RCA and ITP both were
(and still are) working fantastic programs that focused on art. IDII
included real-world business as an equal partner in the curriculum.
This was attractive to employers who felt students had exposure to
business strategy and thinking, and obviously encouraged graduates to
act on their own business ideas.

4. Well-connected faculty: Gillian picked the multicultural faculty
carefully for subject expertise, pedagogical eloquence, and/or
industry experience. Through them we had a stream of fantastic
lecturers and adjunct professors, even though we were in a small
Italian town a couple of hours from the nearest metro.

5. Culture clash: There was a clash between the different cultures
participating. I recall some deep discussions between the students on
the merits of the USofA-esque, aggressive style of being a student,
and the more passive expectations of the European-esque-educated
students. We learned a lot from each other, and I at least was
constantly inspired by the intersections.

Additionally, and this is a little nuanced, but I think the fact that
we had to up-level our English helped a lot as well. Native speakers
couldn't rely on idiom and slang, and we had to think about what we
were saying and get very used to explaining and re-explaining
ourselves. This forced us to examine and iterate our ideas quite a

6. Isolation: This worked against us part of the time because it was
hard to find materials and services to support our work. (Not to
mention the constant need for interpreters for those of us whose
Italian was middling at best.) But it also kept us free from
distractions and focused on creating and nurturing the internal

We even lived in the same strange underground apartment block,
reinforcing this interdependence and sense of like-it-or-not family.

7. Connected locals: I'm not sure this would need to be replicated
in another school, but in Italy it was vital to have staff who were
"in" with the locals.

This is MHO. I'd love to hear from other IDII veterans. What did I

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26 Oct 2008 - 1:10pm
Ali Naqvi

Hello David,
during my MSc degree at the IT University of Copenhagen, I was taught
by Simona Maschi who was an Associate Professor at Interaction Design
Institute Ivrea and Heather Martin who was an Academic Director at
I have gained immense knowledge and learned alot from these two.
Their creative and outspoken teaching techniques were amazing. They
encouraged wild ideas and were very different from the previous
Interaction Design tutors at the IT university.
They spent alot of time showing us videos and cases of previous
students at IVREA which inspired us to cross boundaries.


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