Istituto Marangoni

MILAN — Leading Italian fashion, art and design school Istituto Marangoni is expanding in the U.S. with its first school in the region, located in Miami’s Design District. The venue will be unveiled during Art Basel, running Dec. 7 to 10.

“Go big or go home,” said entrepreneur Hakan Baykam, president of the new Miami school, showing a photo of the impressive, stately building housing the university, which blends Art Deco and modern elements and was selected after two years of scouting for the right location. The school can accommodate 600 students, but the idea is to further grow the number.

Baykam said the response so far has been positive. Explaining the reason for selecting Miami, Baykam said the city’s “rapid growth in design and art coupled with its accessibility to Latin America” contributed to the choice.

Miami has been thriving on the real estate business, with “people coming and going, but it was missing a heart, and we met the request to create something that is long-lasting, an incentive to stay in the city,” remarked Baykam.

He also noted that students from South America may not be able to afford a long stay in Europe, and Miami is a first step as Marangoni allows exchanges between campuses. “Ninety percent of population in Miami are Latinos, many in South America have a home in Miami, so it’s easier for them to send their children to that city rather than to Europe or Asia,” he observed. Baykam, together with Roberto Riccio, group managing director of Istituto Marangoni, has already met with the CFDA and said the reception has been “enthusiastic. Americans love Made in Italy and we found great interest for the school there.”

Riccio praised the creativity coming from South American talents. Setting a base in Miami will also help them “return to their country to launch their own lines. We hope Miami can become the new platform for young talent. There is a great quantity of start-ups and launches. We also believe that there will be more and more cross-pollination from Latin America into American fashion.”

The school, which offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs, will cost $36,000 a year and it will start its courses in January, followed by masters in February.

Riccio said the project of Marangoni’s internationalization was launched back in 2011 and Miami is the tenth school in the world, in cities ranging from Milan, Paris and London to Shanghai, Shenzhen and Mumbai, for a total of 4,500 students a year from 107 countries. Riccio joined Istituto Marangoni at the beginning of 2009 and has led it to open up to new educational fields such as design and art. All teachers are Italian, often alumni, moving to each country and the syllabi are the same around the world.

With a background in alternative resources, Baykam has become an investor in the school, which in Miami will also explore themes such as sustainability. He also hinted at “a project in fashion” next year. Baykam and Riccio are also eyeing opening a school in Los Angeles.

Istituto Marangoni was founded in 1935 in Milan and has launched over 45,000 professionals in fashion and luxury fields, including top designers ranging from the late Franco Moschino and Alessandro Sartori, now artistic director of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group to Julie de Libran, artistic director of Sonia Rykiel, Paula Cademartori and Maurizio Pecoraro, among others. Revenues in 2017 are expected to total 62 million euros.

Baykam believes Miami has the potential to become a new fashion hub and is building a strong Istituto Marangoni Advisory Board in the Americas that includes the likes of Esteban Cortazar, Craig Robins, Carlo D’Amario, Oscar Feldenkreis, Karla Martinez, Milan Vukmirovic and Cademartori, to name a few. Baykam has appointed Massimo Casagrande, an Istituto Marangoni alumnus, founder of his own men’s wear label and a former Versace designer, as director of education, and Pablo Arbelaez as the school’s director.

Baykam in 2009 spearheaded Turkey’s international fashion event called Fashionable Istanbul, attended by designers and brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Missoni and Salvatore Ferragamo. He also owns an Italian production company called Studiokhom, which produces fashion events and includes clients such as Acqua Di Parma and Louis Vuitton. Baykam is ceo of the family-owned international investment group, Relight Capital, parent of brands including Relight, an organization specializing in the energy and natural resource sectors. Relight Capital’s other diverse investments include Balthazar Entertainment Group, Glamoo, Topkapi Mineral and Travel Configurator, some of which have been sold over the last few years. Baykam also leads the group’s private equity branch, Baykam Capital Partners.