Data meets passion

Pirelli’s Annual Report 2017 has the title Data Meets Passion. This reflects the digital transformation currently taking place across the company – from the factory floor to customer- relationship management – fuelled by Pirelli’s ongoing passion for innovation. It is a process that combines the potential of state-of- the-art technology with a people- centred approach and a commitment to corporate development.

Data meets passion Real time information DIGITAL

Pirelli’s Annual Report 2017 has the title Data Meets Passion. This reflects the digital transformation currently taking place across the company – from the factory floor to customer- relationship management – fuelled by Pirelli’s ongoing passion for innovation. It is a process that combines the potential of state-of- the-art technology with a people- centred approach and a commitment to corporate development. Pirelli’s Annual Report 2017 offers the stories of five Italian digital businesses – a kind of “Made in Italy 4.0”. Some of these entrepreneurs are harnessing technology to bring traditional crafts up-to-date from tailoring to upholstery to making surfboards. Others are using technology’s potential to address current problems – whether to transform our relationship with food or protect the future of bees.

Pirelli called on the leading Italian illustrator Emiliano Ponzi - who collaborates with some prestigious publication Italian and non (like New Yorker and New York Times and many others) - to provide an artistic interpretation of these stories using a 3D virtual-reality painting app. Clearly the impact of digital technology is being felt not only by companies, but also within wider society and the personal lives of individuals. So Pirelli commissioned three internationally-renowned authors, known for their expertise in analysing and interpreting the contemporary scene, to share their thoughts on current trends. Read on for the insights of English writer Tom McCarthy, Pakistan’s Mohsin Hamid and Ted Chiang from the United States. So welcome to the world of digital, where data meets passion.

Meets passion

As a company founded in 1872, Pirelli has made the most of each new technological revolution – from electricity to automation. Now it is harnessing the possibilities of digital technology to become data-driven, something that reaches into its factories, its products and its relationship with customers.


Pirelli only started its digital transformation process a year ago but already some pleasing – and surprising – results are emerging. It is here, in fact, that some workers who work on machines are involved in the transformation process that, through the use of data and calculation algorithms, aims to anticipate problems rather than react to solve them. At the forefront of the process are Pirelli’s factories where some machine operators are now using data to anticipate problems and solve them rather than simply react to them. It is an example of the vital part Pirelli’s people are playing in the company’s digital tran- sformation – taking the technology in new directions and making new things possible. Smart manufacturing is just one of a series of digitalisation projects to have been started since November 2016 – others include forecasting, marketing and customer relationship management – and it demonstrates the far-reaching impact of the new approach as the company starts on its digital journey. Initially everything was run by a smart manufacturing team from Milan, but when the team visited the factories and started demonstrating how the digital tools could be an advantage some factory colleagues sought to make their own contribution. They wanted to know how it worked and started proactively to propose additional things they wanted to have, all the time supported by a change management programme called Manufacturing to Digital – or M2D – which aims to build a digital culture based on lean principles.

Time information


Now some factories have smart manufacturing teams who are customising what they want in the plant, and sharing information and best practice via WhatsApp and Yammer groups. This has been a boost to the workforce as well as factory efficiency and productivity, with lower scrap and less unplanned maintenance. And it is having a domino effect across the company. Today some Pirelli plants are equipped with systems for displaying the parameters relevant to each individual process, such as the vulcanisation times for a given tyre. This enables the machine operator and the factory engineers to intervene in real time if the process is not proceeding as planned. Some workers are equipped with wearable technology such as smart watches to supply them with key data. While our virtual reality training programme – PLAY 2.0 – is being used to further accelerate the improvement process. In the future the factories will continue to evolve towards predictive maintenance, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence. The plan is to connect the data coming from Pirelli’s factories around the world with the ultimate goal of creating a data-driven culture and an integration of the supply chain inside and outside the factory.


The enthusiasm of the manufacturing workforce has shown what can be achieved with people at the centre of the digital transformation. A major training and development programme is underway across Pirelli to explain the changes and support a shift towards a flexible, “digital” mindset and a more data- and customer-driven approach. There is no doubt that the switch to digital involves more than just adopting new technology – Industry 4.0-style – it also requires changes to the whole company from the cultural, organisational and managerial perspective. That’s why it has been vital to have strong endorsement from the very top of the company in the shape of executive vice- chairman and CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera for what is set to be a quite long process.


The most challenging part is changing how Pirelli approaches the customer and it’s the company’s long record of work on digital technologies – and its passion for research and development and pushing boundaries – that is making that future data-driven approach to the customer possible. Pirelli’s scientists and researchers first dared to dream of the intelligent tyre – gathering and relaying information from the only part of a car in contact with the road – more than 20 years ago. The first three related patents were registered in 1999. Since then, Pirelli’s Cyber Technologies team has collaborated with a series of prestigious partners, including the Milan Polytechnic Foundation for Smart Mobility and Berkeley Wireless Research Center, adopting the latest technologies as they emerged – and filing 300 patents along the way.


A car owner in Los Angeles, for example, can install P Zero tyres with Pirelli Connesso, open an app on his mobile phone and check on their car’s tyre pressure, temperature and wear. The same app can also show her – or him – figures for any other Connesso- connected cars in their garage. With this kind of data available it is then possible for Pirelli and its partners to offer consumers a range of services for the first time, in particular around roadside assistance and tyre related servicing. Car manufacturers are interested in information provided by the intelligent tyre about the car’s static vertical load and “Tyre ID” which can be used to optimise the car’s chassis control system to improve safety and performance. The static vertical load – the downward force applied to the tyre – is particularly useful for makers of electric cars as by knowing the car’s accurate weight, the vehicle’s central control unit can calculate more precisely how much longer the battery will last before needing a recharge.


The Tyre ID – a record of the tyre’s brand, size, load capacity, and more – makes it possible to offer new services. For example, the car could remind a driver using summer tyres that it is November and time to switch to winter tyres. If your tyre has a puncture, a repair team would be able to check the Tyre ID via the Cloud and come directly to where you are with a suitable replacement, ending the cycle of wasted time and money involved in taking a car into a garage.


In the future a tyre dealer will be able to come and change your tyres while you are having dinner with your family, so that in the morning your tyres will be mounted and ready to go. Pirelli’s relationship with its partners – such as tyre dealers – will become even more important as the data coming directly from the end user can be processed and interpreted to provide better products and services. For example, data on tyre wear helps to predict the demand for tyres. Pirelli can then suggest to a dealer how to optimise the type and number of tyres it needs in stock. The dealer will also be able to know when to contact a driver – via Pirelli’s dealer portal which is currently being built – to tell them that their tread wear is high and they need to change their tyre. So the dealer can contact the end user directly and make an appointment to do that.


These data-driven insights are changing Pirelli’s relationships with its customers; they are also changing the nature of Pirelli itself. Including the existing IT department, the Pirelli Digital team has grown to 300 people, the majority of whom are based in Milan. Here people with new competencies and skills – such as Full-Stack and UX developers – will manage the data science and algorithms driving the company, along with its major digital projects, as well as develop its customer-facing digital platforms. The new office will be in keeping with Pirelli’s digital philosophy – open-plan offices, hot-desking and rooms designed to encourage teamwork and agile thinking.


All of which demonstrates Pirelli’s commitment to developing a transparent data-driven approach and decision-making process with horizontal teams that are all working together, and a focus on listening to customers and creating value for them. When this is blended with the company’s core experience in tyre production and R&D and passion for advancing the future of mobility, it promises a powerful digital future.

mohsin hamid Tom mccarty Ted chiang

Telling transformation

How technology is changing the world

Mosin Hamid
tom mccarthy
Ted chiang

Mohsin hamid

Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for The New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2013 and was a 2017 Man Booker Prize nominee. He is the author of the novels The reluctant fundamentalist, How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, and Moth smoke; and a collection of essays, Discontent and its civilizations. Born and mostly raised in Lahore, he has since lived in between Lahore, New York and London.


When we speak of technology, too often we use the language of technology. We say that I have X type of mobile phone, featuring V type of operating system, running Z type of application. But this causes us to lose contact with real meaning, to miss out on the possibility of communicating what is human.
Instead we must recall that we are human beings when we speak of technology. We must use human language, the language of our feelings, of our senses. For we humans are emotional creatures, physical creatures. Then we can say that I carry a rectangular shaped object of metal and glass in my pocket, and it summons my attention, constantly, like a syringe summons the attention of a drug addict, calling out to me, and when I have misplaced it, when I cannot find it and gaze upon it and speak to it, it is as though a part of myself has gone missing. Speaking of technology in such a human language allows us to see that technology is not separate from what is human. Rather, technology comes from what makes us human: technology comes from our desires. The existence of airplanes is not something separate from the existence of human beings. Airplanes exist because we human beings desired to fly. Like desire itself, technology is not inherently good or bad. It does not lead inexorably to either utopia or dystopia. The outcome of technological progress for humanity depends on the relationship between humans and technology: whether technology acts only upon us, or whether we too are able act upon technology. The question we face now, at this moment of exponentially accelerating technological change, is how do we create a world where humans feel comfortable with the progress of technology? How do we restore a sense of ease, a sense that we are not merely readers of a future being written by someone else, but authors of our own future together? One way forward is a radical democratisation of technology. Technology comes from our shared human culture, from the human cultural capital accumulated through all of history, from language and mathematics and physics and the zero and the one, from something that belongs to all of us. Intellectual property, like the oceans, can be fished individually but must collectively be thought of as our commons. Every human, in this democratic vision of technology, would have a share in the benefit that comes from technology. In the world to come, as machines learn, they will make great surpluses possible, and they will also obliterate many jobs. If those surpluses are captured by a few people, and those jobs losses are borne by billions of others, we will indeed have a dystopia. But if those surpluses could be shared, and if all could have a say in shaping the direction of technology, then perhaps something that feels like a utopia begins to become thinkable: a world of plenty, where we have the freedom to pursue what we each value most. A world with food and shelter and energy and agency for all. A world better for humans than any that has come before. Humans have long desired to live in heaven. Whether technology makes this possible will depend on whether we open the doors to heaven wide, or whether we seek to limit access to a chosen few, and in the process give birth to a hell.

Tom mccarthy

Tom McCarthy lives in London, where he was born in 1969. He is known in the art world for his role within the avant-garde International Necronautical Society (INS). His novels include: Remainder, Men in Space, Tintin and the Secret of Literature, and C (Bompiani, 2013). He was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and Walter Scott Prize in 2010.


In 1895, in an essay entitled ‘The Book, Spiritual Instrument’, the French symbolist poet Stephane Mallarmé first unleashed his most famous claim: ‘Everything that exists,’ he wrote, ‘does so in order to end up in a book.
’ Mallarmé was not just thinking of some book or other, but (as he would put it in a letter to his friend Verlaine) ‘the book, convinced as I am that in the final analysis there’s only one... architectural and premeditated... the Orphic explanation of the earth.’ For the remainder of his life, he dedicated himself to this project: since the book in its present form was not up to the task, he set out to create a new, expanded and cross-media über-book that would take in theatre, dan- ce and music, even ritual, consume and reconfigure all these forms within a total ‘system of relationships’ that he would simply call (using a capital L) le Livre. Three decades later, the father of modern anthropology, Bronislaw Malinowski, laid out a similar ambition for the ethnographic field. His First Commandment to all would-be anthropologists was simply: Write Everything Down. Since every detail, from the minutiae of a tea-ritual to the the shape of a ceremonial belt-buckle, might turn out to unlock the entire logic of a given tribe, he reasoned, it should all be notated, analysed, every last detail correlated with every last other one until — presto! — the entire social fabric renders up the secret of its pattern. Skip forward ninety years, and it might seem that both men’s aspirations have been realised. Mallarmé’s ‘system of relationships’ in which all objects and phenomena are held finds its embodiment in the World Wide Web. Malinowski’s Commandment, too, has been executed — not on distant tribes but on the citizens of hyper-developed countries. Now, it is all written down. There’s hardly a moment of our lives that isn’t documented; walking down a stretch of street, we’re filmed by cameras, GPS-marked, data-tracked by phones we carry in our pockets. Every website that we visit, every keystroke that we make is archived. Networks of kinship are now mapped by software that tabulates and cross-indexes what we buy with who we know, and what they buy, or like, and with the other objects that are bought or liked by others we don’t know but with whom we share buying and liking patterns. Where does this leave the anthropologist, or writer? For that matter, where does this leave the citizen? Perhaps these questions are in fact the same one. What fascinates me, as a novelist, about the ascent of digital culture and the regimes of super-surveillance it brings with it, is not so much the old adage that all literature is political, but rather the inverse: that politics itself becomes a literary question. Literary in the sense that public — and private — life finds itself governed by inscription: when everything gets notated in some data-ledger, then experience itself, and with it the question of agency (are we free subjects? or are all our gestures and decisions ruled and determined by the algorithms), boil down to moments and acts of writing. Kafka saw this coming. In his short story In the Penal Colony he envisages a giant machine into which prisoners are strapped, whose furrows carve into their flesh, in a grotesquely self-reflective loop, the law’s own words: ‘Be just.’ For the philosopher Michel de Certeau, we all live in this machine: under capitalism, he claims, all bodies ‘are thus transformed into texts in conformity with the Western desire to read its products.’ If you want to see the machine’s latest manifestation, look at Trevor Paglen’s famous photo of the NSA’s Maryland headquarters. A colossal black box, it contains records of... well, everything really. This is the late-modern Book — but who can read it? Even the NSA are at a loss to parse and sift and correlate the billions of data-points contained within their black book’s covers, to ‘interpret’ it. This, perhaps, is where the question starts to shift: perhaps it is no longer writing that’s the core issue, but reading. The task, for the citizen as for the artist, is no longer to find new forms of expression; but to find new ways of mapping, navigating, reading our way out of, or at least through, the writing-machine.

© 2018 by Tom McCarthy

Ted chiang

Ted Chiang is an award-winning writer of science fiction. Over the course of 25 years and 15 stories, he has won numerous awards including four Nebulas, four Hugos, four Locuses, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The title story from his collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, was adapted into the movie Oscar- winning movie Arrival, starring Amy Adams and directed by Denis Villeneuve. He freelances as a technical writer and currently resides in Bellevue, Washington, and is a graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop.


When discussing the computer revolution, people often make comparisons to the way automobiles rendered horse-drawn carriages and buggy whips obsolete. But I think to fully appreciate the potential that computers have to change our lives, we should go back to the very first information technology, which is the written word. .
Writing is so familiar to us that most people don’t even recognize it as a technology, but that’s what it is. Writing is entirely different from spoken language, which is part of our biological nature; unless you deliberately deprive a child of stimulation, every child will spontaneously learn to speak. (Or sign, in the case of deaf children.) But writing is an invention, and it wasn’t one that came easily. Humans were daubing paint on cave walls and making necklaces for tens of thousands of years before it occurred to anyone to represent speech by making marks. Even today, there are thousands of languages that have no written form. Like other technologies,writing has been improved over time. THISSENTENCEISHARDTOREAD- BUTATONEPOINTINHISTORYALLWRITINGLOOKEDLIKETHIS When you read that sentence, you probably moved your lips to sound it out; the earliest forms of writing were tied closely to speech. Over the course of centuries, people separated words with spaces, distinguished between capital and small letters, and added punctuation marks to identify sentences and clauses. These improvements made writing more effective in the same way that advances in metallurgy made knives sharper and stronger. If you have ever delivered a speech, you almost certainly wrote some words down beforehand; maybe just some notecards, but more likely the entire thing, word for word. Why would you do that, when the final product would be delivered orally? Because writing has become more than a way of transcribing sounds; it helps you organize your thoughts and decide what you want to say. Writing is a cognitive technology, a tool for thinking. The conveniences afforded by computers are enormous, but even more profound is the impact that digital technology will have on the way we think. I expect that in the future, when you need to prepare a speech, you will use software to help you formulate your ideas. Not Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, which are attempts to emulate older modes of communication; they’re like the all-capitals, no-spaces versions of writing. They’ll be replaced by something more flexible and dynamic; I don’t know what that software will look like, but it will make it easy to express ideas that we currently struggle to convey with words arranged in rows inside a rectangle. The advantages of such software may not be obvious when we first see it, just as the advantages of writing weren’t immediately obvious. Even after the Greek alphabet had been in use for centuries, Socrates remained suspicious of the written word, saying that it offered “the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom.” He pointed out that you could ask questions of a learned person and get real answers, whereas if you tried to ask questions of a piece of writing, it could only say one thing. People make similar criticisms of computers today, and for the same reason Socrates criticized writing: because you can’t fully appreciate a new mode of cognition until you’ve become fluent in it yourself. We’re accustomed to thinking of technology as being cold and hard, something that doesn’t mesh well with our bodies or ourselves, so when someone says that digital technology will become a part of us, it’s easy to envision cables being plugged into our brains, and then recoil at the thought. But if you think of it as an analogue to the written word, it ceases to be frightening and becomes empowering instead. Digital technology will become a part of us by transforming the language in which we think. And rather of diminishing us, it will expand our range of possibilities; it will give us new ways to be smart, new ways to be creative, new ways to be human.

Tappezzerie Druetta 3bee alter ego differenthood

making transformation

Made in Italy 4.0 five stories

F.lli druetta

4.0 tapestries with 3D virtual room


High tech hives

Alter ego

Ecosustainable surfs via e-commerce


Tailor-made fashion designed by the user

Sustainable agriculture with blockchain

Tappezzeria druetta




Next-generation upholsterers, the two Druetta brothers revamped the family business, established in 1953, with 3D design and a virtual room where customers are invited to enjoy an immersive experience and see their finished designed product.

The dream is to keep alive a manual art handed down through the generations. Technology is the means that has made it possible. Veronica Druetta and her brother Gabriele are upholsterers from a three-generation family tradition: their grandfather Matteo founded the business in 1953 and their father Antonello still runs the company, based in Moretta, between Saluzzo and Alba - «the Piedmont slow food triangle» as it’s known. In 2012 the pair decided to enter the profession as well. Veronica was still very young (she's now thirty) and her career path seemed to be leading in a completely different direction: after studying languages she began work as an interpreter, and she spent some time living abroad. For his part, her older brother had studied architecture. Then something clicked, and the two of them chose this profession with the aim of bringing it into the new millennium. They equipped themselves with a 3D scanner and a parametric software package. One of the difficulties in traditional upholstery is that to upholster an item of furniture you first need to take measurements and carry out tests, a preliminary phase that takes time and is even needed just to prepare a quote: consequently the profession is becoming increasingly unsustainable. By using a simple three-dimensional scanner, however, Veronica and Gabriele can create a model, complete with all measurements, in just a few seconds.

In 2016 their company was selected for Botteghe Digitali, a project to assist in the training and advancement of outstanding Italian craftsmanship. The word upholsterer is rather reductive to describe what they do: they not only upholster furniture but also design it, working with prestigious architectural practices; there are also collaborations with art galleries. The algorithms in the software enable them to modify their designs in situations in which one small adjustment would require complex calculations in a short space of time. These savings in time and energy are enabling them to take «an endangered skill», as Gabriele defines it, and to make it compatible with a globalised market. Veronica’s linguistic knowledge, and her experience abroad, allow them to communicate directly with international customers and suppliers. Innovation and tradition also coexist in the materials they use: the Druetta siblings know how to work with the most classic velvets and horsehair padding, while simultaneously experimenting with 3D printed fabrics, polymer gels and original textures They love eclectic combinations, using fabrics designed for fashion, technical clothing or medical applications. They seek out innovation, says Veronica, but with an age-old spirit. «We go to trade fairs, we knock on doors, we seek direct contact with anyone creating interesting things». They dislike the rhetoric of progress as an end in itself. Digitalisation has revolutionised the design stage, but production is still done by hand. Nonetheless they look with great interest to augmented reality applications such as Google Tilt Brush, the virtual paintbrush that enables the creation of 3D designs. But technology is simply the means: the goal is to do things well, in the pursuit of beauty.





An electronic engineer, a biologist and a food technologist teamed up to create Hive- Tech, a technological beehive in which the entire production cycle can be monitored remotely by means of sensors.

Having originally embarked on academic careers, Niccolò Calandri (engineer) and Riccardo Balzaretti (biologist), have resisted the allure of the “brain drain” to take a risk, focusing their efforts on developing an idea entirely their own and applying it in the place they love most: the Italian countryside. In so doing they’ve invented a unique new profession: a cross between an IT specialist and a vet with a mission to prevent diseases in beehives. It seems that the two of them were struck by the famous warning attributed to Einstein: «If the bee disappeared from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live». The beehive has been exalted as a model of the perfect society since the times of the ancient Romans, and Pliny the Elder praised the perfect organisation of that humming factory. Only in the seventeenth century, however, was the discovery made that the boss of the beehive is the queen bee, and this mythologised bees still further as the symbol not only of hard work but also of a matriarchal society. The post-industrial world has somewhat lost this fascination for bees and everything they represent. As a result the work of the beekeeper has been undervalued , and the fact that honey is seen as a luxury product has also not helped. In the past twenty years the health of bees has also declined as a result of diseases linked to intensive pesticide use, and the dramatic condition of the species is now leading them to take on a new symbolic role: not so much as hard-working citizens of an ideal community but as the guardians of the world, whose work is channelled not just into productivity but above all into protecting the environment.

For many years beekeepers limited the problem using antibiotics, but fortunately these are now illegal in Europe. Without antibiotics the only way to save the bees is through preventative measures. And this is where 3Bee enters the scene. The electronic IoT device produced by the startup is a system for optimising the welfare of bees: it's like having somebody watching over your beehives day and night, monitoring pa- rameters like the temperature, the humidity and the vibration of the hive, which is rather like a human cough: if the bees are not well the beat of their wings changes. Through the Hive-Tech platform the be- ekeeper is constantly kept up-to-date on any abnormalities that might disturb the peace within the hive. 3Bee began to distribute its technology on an experimental basis a few months before its official market launch in March 2018. As many as 500 devices have already been sold in Italy in the first days since the launch, coinciding with the start of the beekeeping season. The startup now forecasts a distribution rate of around 100 to 200 devices a month until October, when a new peak in demand will occur. Italy is the main theatre of activity for the two young partners who, having abandoned their scientific careers, have also made the emotional decision to remain in their country of origin. But they are also already exporting to Moldova, Romania, Russia, Germany and South America, and all with a staff of only four. The words of the poet Franco Marcoaldi, dedicated to a child beekeeper, spontaneously come to mind: every beehive / is clear proof / of the supremacy of insects.



This startup launched by an eco-sustainable technology enthusiast and an architect, designs and makes eco-compatible surfboards to measure using the most advanced design technology and searching for natural and innovative materials.

Expanded polystyrene is initially cut by hand, and is then glued to two lateral components in cork. When the glue has done its work and after two days left to set in the workshop, a technician places the as yet unsculpted form into the shaping machine. The vision begins to take shape, evolving from a mathematical representation in 3D software to a physical draft of the almost finished product. A scrubbing and resin coating stage is the final operation, entrusted once more to human hands. This is how AlterEgo surfboards enter the world: «Working as an architect I’ve always been a bit more interested in designs with a strong physical element. I love the physicality of materials, the way they change and interact to give shape to the concept in my imagination», says Luigi Salustri, co-founder of AlterEgo Surfboards. A youthful-looking 58 year-old, with a slightly unkempt dark beard and the healthy tan of a surfer, Salustri was born and raised in Rome where he has worked in architecture, scenography and set design. In early 2017 he moved to Alghero to open the AlterEgo workshop. «From the moment I decided to found the company my idea was to build surfboards ecologically, using recycled and recyclable materials and working in the most environmentally-friendly way possible». The story of AlterEgo is typical of a garage hobby that became a business opportunity. Salustri started crafting surfboards in his youth, as a passion, but never imagined making much out of it. He was just a surfer who wanted to try his hand at creating the tools of his long-time hobby. Then his friends started asking questions about those beautiful surfboards: could they buy one? The seed had been sown. The decisive impulse came from Smart&Start Italia, a government initiative offering grants and zero- interest loans to new companies that combine a digital element, an innovative idea and a concern for environmental sustainability.

For AlterEgo respect for the environment is of central importance, driving both its choice of materials and its manufacturing processes. The use of cork as a structural element, for example, is not common practice in the industry. Salustri chose it both for the natural visual touch that it gives the boards and for its typically eco-friendly characteristics compared to more traditional choices such as carbon fibre or aramid (commonly known as Kevlar). But then there’s the polystyrene, a key component with a markedly non-ecological production process. To get around this problem AlterEgo sources its polystyrene exclusively from a recycling plant located 40 km from the workshop. The waste materials produced by the shaping machine (a made-to-measure CNC lathe designed and built by an Italian engineer using steel from Terni, German-made electronic boards and high-precision Japanese microchips) are also fed back into the recycling loop. The bio-resin used to finish the surfboards, produced exclusively from vegetable oils, is also one of the most environmentally friendly solutions currently available.



This is the first online platform on which users can create unique garments, entirely made in Italy, picking from over 5000 fabrics offering over one million different combinations. The models can be shared with the community and users can earn whenever their garment is purchased by other users.

Once upon a time buying a made-to-measure suit was a privilege reserved only to aristocrats, the wealthy and show business celebrities. Then over the years it came within the reach of increasing numbers of people. But never before has it been possible to imagine designing your own clothing, having it made and taking it home. This is now possible with Differenthood, a startup founded three years ago by Riccardo Bigio in Milan. «My father has always worked in the silk business in Como, while on my mother’s side we have a tailor’s shop that was founded in 1856» says Riccardo, an engineer by training who, until a few years ago, worked as a strategic consultant; he always dreamt, however, that one day he might set himself up in a sector that seems an unavoidable passion given his family pedigree. A pedigree that evokes an era, the 19th century, in which gentlemen (and gentlewomen) would entrust their custom to a tailor’s shop to create exclusive garments. Tailors and dressmakers often copied the patterns of the most celebrated stylists or tailoring houses, bringing the style of the great capitals to the provinces. Now, however, everybody can be their own tailor and designer rolled into one. No particular skills are needed: customers choose from a “base” of overcoats, suits, jackets, trench coats and shirts. They then personalise the shape of the base by choosing their preferred variants: lengths, collars, pockets, cuffs. At this point they choose the fabric and add buttons, buckles, inserts and other accessories. And as if by magic the garment is ready, seemingly produced by the skilled hands of a tailor from another era. But with the convenience of today. Differenthood is also working on another way of assisting the choice process. «Our idea is to provide a box: when you register we send a set of garments in different sizes to your home, with samples of fabrics. You keep them for a week to ten days, then when you’ve chosen you can order online. It isn’t rocket science but nobody else is doing it», says Riccardo.

Another possibility not available to the customers of 19th century tailors was sharing: with a catalogue of five thousand fabrics, which crossed with the different design variants enable up to a billion different combinations, each garment is absolutely unique but can be shared with other customers. Earning money in the process: «If someone wants the same garment as you, exactly as you designed it, you as customer-designer take a percentage». It’s fair that you be paid for the copyright», says Riccardo. The tailoring service provided by Differenthood also achieves another ideal aim, at least for company management: the absence of warehouse stocks. And the prices, thanks to the lack of intermediaries, are also 40% lower than for traditional fashion. Once your unique product has been designed it generally takes around 3-4 weeks for it to be made. Shirts are made up in Bergamo, and suits are produced in Rome. «My dream has always been to create something of my own, starting from zero», says Riccardo. “I’ve been working on the project for a long time, including at night during my previous job. Then I took six months’ leave before giving in my notice to open Differenthood». Now his dream has become reality. Technology and courage have enabled him to continue an ancient profession, but with a modern twist.

Arianna vulpiani

Established by two agricultural entrepreneurs and a finance expert, Demeter exploits blockchain technology to establish direct relationships between consumers and farmers worldwide to the benefit of eco-sustainable crops.

Innovation, in the guise of blockchain technology, combined with the most ancient element of all, the soil. This is the connection that two young Italian entrepreneurs have made the cornerstone of their partnership. An idea that brings agriculture to the 4.0 stage, creating a direct connection between growers and consumers. It’s called, and is a platform or line that enables people to rent a portion of land anywhere in the world, a “micro-field” cultivated by the local farmer under the directions of the customer, who can then decide whether to personally pick up the products or to have them sent. The project was launched in 2016 by two friends in their thirties, Marco Mettimano and Luigi Tonti, respectively CEO and Platform Advisor of In 2013 Mettimano lived in China, where he was involved in investment activities in the automotive and photovoltaic industries. For his part Tonti took over his family’s farming business in Puglia two years ago, and in doing so he realised that the majority of earnings in this sector are taken by the intermediation system. «This led to the idea of the platform which, by cutting out the middle men, would ensure higher profits for farmers, lower prices for buyers and at the same time a relationship based on trust», says Mettimano.

It was a dream with very genuine roots, but it still lacked an important piece of the jigsaw. Producers, even if in good faith, could have been able to modify the production process without letting consumers know, or - even worse - could have falsified the products. «We needed to find a guarantee system – admits Mettimano – and this is where the blockchain came in». It’s the same underlying technology as that used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and is developing strongly in the agrifoods sector. It works like a database that stores information online in a sort of ledger, impeding any kind of manipulation, and through this the activities of producers on their micro-fields are monitored at every stage. The startup has launched its own cryptocurrency called Demeter Token, which can be used to purchase all the services offered on the platform. «It’s a indispensable tool both for the supply chain and for self- financing», comments Tonti. Adding expertise in the healthy nutrition sector is Arianna Vulpiani, the startup’s Business Development Manager. In 2017 Vulpiani founded the BioFarm Orto project, a sort of garden produce sharing system that enables consumers to rent remotely and then personally harvest vegetables grown by small farms. This too led to the idea of the micro-field, which was then developed by the Demeter portal using the blockchain. Prior to the beginning of enrolment requests have already come in from 23 countries, from Asia to South America And in Italy there are already a number of farmers, accounting for a total area of about a thousand hectares, who are ready to use the platform. It’s an example of how technology is enabling a small revolution in the way we think of, consume and experience our food every day.


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Emiliano Ponzi is one of today's leading illustrators. Every afternoon of his childhood was passed sitting at a table drawing, his feet not even touching the floor. Now, Emiliano Ponzi draws at a table in a large studio he shares with other creatives in Milan. He spends a few months every year in New York, where he has received nu- merous awards including three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, as well as silver and merit ones. He is also the only Italian to have won the Art Directors Club Gold Cube in the Big Apple. You have very probably had your hands on an Emiliano Ponzi work as they feature on the covers of prestigious publications, Italian and non-: the New York Times, New Yor- ker, Le Monde, La Repubblica, Esquire and Vogue, to name but a few. His clients also include institutions such as the Triennale di Milano and MoMA, for which he recently illustrated a New York subway map book. His painstaking daily practice has spawned an unmistakable style of simple strokes and pastel shades reminiscent of Edward Hopper. His are concise, elegant metaphors - be they cover illustrations for a series of Bukowski books, murals for a Milan metro station surrounded by Isozaki, Libeskind and Zaha Hadid skyscrapers or the latest cover of the Pirelli magazine World. However, if you ask Emiliano, his finest illustration is always the one he is going to draw tomorrow.

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