fabrica reunion celebrates 22 years of collaborative research and design




fabrica is a communication research centre based in treviso, italy and forms an integral part of the global fashion brand, benetton group. the platform offers talented creatives from around the world a one-year scholarship — including accommodation plus a round-trip ticket to italy — enabling access to a highly diverse group of researchers. the range of disciplines is equally varied including: design, visual communication, photography, video, interaction, music and journalism.


fabrica is based in a stunning campus that is a 17th century villa, restored and significantly augmented by renowned japanese tadao ando. its research is a cross-disciplinary commitment wherein communication interacts with other vital sectors like the economy and social and environmental sciences, and — through continual experimentation — is alert to the changes and trends of modern society. 

fabrica is a communication research centre based in treviso, italy




fabrica’s library is contained within a spiral driven into the ground, illuminated from above with natural light. the on-site amenity holds over 5,000 volumes on graphic design, photography, industrial design, art, and topics related to visual communication. a collection of correlated reference books is also included, as well as a vast collection of international periodicals. the entire collection of material is catalogued by title, author and subject. 


last weekend marked the 22nd anniversary of the illustrious institution. to celebrate, fabrica brought back all of its ex-students to engage with current issues. the reunion brought together presentations from both pritzker prize winning architect alejandro aravena and dutch multi-disciplinarian erik kessels; in the afternoon the auditorium floor was then opened to all of the fabricanti to showcase their work since leaving.

view of the main auditorium at fabrica, where presentations and exhibitions were held 




designboom attended what was an exciting day, seeing how far the designers have come since honing their craft, alongside the most recent departures of the research centre. upon meeting with the fabricanti, the unequivocal message was that fabrica had been a special experience which they will always be grateful for. 


we spoke with fabrica’s president and CEO, carlo tunioli to discuss the reunion, the institution’s creative vision and what the future holds for its esteemed scholars.

portrait of carlo tunioli
image © designboom 




designboom: this is fabrica’s first reunion since 1994. how exciting is it to bring together all these creative talents this weekend?


carlo tunioli: this was a great opportunity to bring all the people that have been here and work here. we understood through social media that there is a significant community sharing stories. we understood that this experience left them with something, so we thought we could tap-into that and have a reunion that was physical, not virtual. so that was how it came about.

the tadao ando-renovated campus in treviso




DB: what experience do all fabricanti receive during their time at fabrica?


CT: fabrica is based on a multi-ethnic community with people from different backgrounds working on projects. so the best thing that we want them to take away from here is a way of sharing and working together. this is what has been the vision behind fabrica and we want them to leave here with that in their mind and their feelings.

the reunion brought together presentations and exhibitions at the campus 




DB: what skills and talents do you look for in young designers and creatives?


CT: it depends on the areas, but in general, we are looking for open-minded people with a depth of knowledge of their craft and a sort of personality that is open to working and sharing with all other people. that is a key element, sharing and working together.

designers make their descent to the main auditorium




DB: what is fabrica’s vision for the future of design?


CT:  the mission has essentially stayed the same. during 22 years the world has changed significantly so we have to adapt and evolve. we want to become more agile, more sustainable and surely we will adapt to the changes that will happen around the world, and in the marketplace. we have to embrace them and prompt by means of other institutions, businesses. we are now having this interesting experience of a summer camp from mainly US students, but from different ethnicities. that is what we are looking at as a way to add to all of our projects.

the library at fabrica hosts a monumental collection of books and journals




DB: you have mentioned the importance of forward trajectory in design thinking, do you think there is any value in a backward trajectory, like nurturing traditional methods, in design thinking?


CT: design thinking is a process that is becoming important for businesses too, it is the way that people put together their thoughts and are able to realize in practice. this is something that they are now teaching in business school, which is something very curious and interesting. yesterday we actually had this conversation between the executive director of stanford university and our head of design, sam baron. so it is very interesting how something that is more conceptual and structured in thinking is applied to other activities — how design can retain a reality in making things. 

fabrica celebrates a range of disciplines including design, visual communication, and photography




(continued) then we go back to one of the principles of fabrica, ‘learning by doing’, so design keeps the individual way of thinking, even if now, all of these business schools like to take this approach. it’s not so simple, however as we can see here with these MBAs that they are trying to make things with their hands. it’s a process that is very interesting how there is this transfer from purely ‘craft’, to a way of having people, students and kids learn things in a different way from the manual process.

former fabrica members come together at the reunion in italy 

throughout the reunion, designers engaged in discussions and exhibited their work

fabrica forms a diverse community of people from different backgrounds and creative fields