MILAN — Italian design and fashion institute Domus Academy has tapped architect and designer Fabio Novembre as its new scientific director and ambassador. Fabio Siddu has also been named school director ad interim as Massimo Zanatta is on temporary leave for personal reasons.
These appointments are part of a relaunch strategy set by the school, which, as reported, was acquired last year by the international specialist in private higher education Galileo Global Education, or GGE. In addition to Domus Academy, GGE’s Italian branch counts Istituto Marangoni and Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti — better known as NABA — in its portfolio.
Founded in Milan in 1982, Domus Academy was the first postgraduate design school established in Italy. It counts more than 400 students, 93 percent of whom are not Italian, and offers 12 globally recognized master’s programs, divided into four thematic areas ranging from design and fashion to business.
“The design sector shows a positive trend, generating growing demand from companies for innovative professionalism,” said Galileo Global Education Italia’s chief executive officer Roberto Riccio. “This is determining a significant growth in the demand for training, in particular from postgraduate students who choose to invest in master’s programs to boost their careers.”
Riccio’s goal is to modernize the school’s educational program, offering courses in sync with the demands of companies, as well as to boost the institute’s appeal, which is rooted in its Italian identity.
“Therefore we tapped a leading Italian designer as ambassador.…We expect Fabio [Novembre to follow through on] Domus Academy’s vision and [bring] his signature ironic approach to projects.”
Novembre opened his studio in 1994 and has collaborated with leading design brands — including Driade, Venini and Kartell — ever since. In addition, he designed interiors, showrooms and boutiques for brands such as Blumarine and Stuart Weitzman, and conceived architectures for a number of companies, ranging from Lamborghini to the AC Milan soccer club.
“To teach is an essential moment for all us, because we have received a lot and we feel it’s our duty to give back. This is one of the reasons why I accepted this challenge,” said Novembre about his appointment.
In particular, the designer aims to take the school back to its original and radical approach.
“Domus Academy was born from the experiences of radical Italian design, which was what today we would define [as] disruptive. I want to refine the school on this element, we need to get back to the origins and re-question everything, again and again.…In Silicon Valley they do research while it seems that all we do here is conservation, and I don’t want that. Domus Academy has to represent the revolution.”
Although the educational program hasn’t been finalized as it will make its debut in the 2020-21 academic year, Novembre’s intention is to simplify the name of the courses, focus on core concepts, develop projects and initiatives involving prestigious industry players and stage workshops hosted by professional figures, using his own wide network of contacts.
“We need to continue with our ‘learning by designing’ approach as creativity alone is no longer enough to find a job,” said Riccio, who underscored the importance to flank theoretical classes with practical projects based on real business needs and requirements.
“In this context, we are developing, among other things, a series of workshops and lectures that will address the most current issues, new collaborations with companies, and a contest dedicated to future and potential talents,” echoed Siddu, who is also director of the Istituto Marangoni School of Fashion and Art in Florence. “Other new opportunities offered to students include the scholarship dedicated to Fabio Novembre and an internship at his studio. He will also be involved in a big event for next year’s Design Week,” he concluded.
In addition, the executives didn’t exclude synergies with Istituto Marangoni and NABA could be developed in the future. To enhance these and create a physical, single education pole in Italy, the Galileo Global Education Italia is looking for a roughly 270,000-square-foot area in Milan to establish a campus gathering the three schools by 2021.
“We are in talks with possible investors. The new area of Porta Nuova is the district we are eyeing but the exorbitant prices are making everything more difficult,” said Riccio. “In the meantime, we’re thinking with Fabio [Novembre] a way to give dignity to the current student experience at Domus Academy, in a more central building that can inspire beauty,” he continued, adding that at least for the next six months, a move is out of the question.
In general, Galileo Global Education has more than 37 institutes in its portfolio, distributed in 40 European cities and across 10 countries, for a total of about 100,000 students. In addition to Italy, the group operates in France, which represents half of GGE’s revenues; Germany; Mexico, and Senegal.
Schools in the group’s portfolio include L’Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués and L’Atelier de Sévres in France, the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Germany and the Instituto de Estudios Universitarios in Mexico.