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Interview with Cameron Sinclair

Fabrica interviewed the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and Open Architecture Network. During Sinclair’s workshop at Fabrica, held from July 14 to 17, 2008 and entitled “The Beautiful Game - Social Change Through the Power of Football”, the architect gave a wide range interview on major social topics such as culture, environment and economics.

To see the video interview:

Cameron Sinclair is the co-founder and ‘eternal optimist’ for Architecture for Humanity, a charitable organization founded to develop architectural and design solutions to humanitarian crises and provide pro-bono design services to communities in need. Currently the organization is working in fourteen countries on projects ranging from school, health clinics, affordable housing and long term sustainable reconstruction.

Trained as an architect at the University of Westminster and the The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, Sinclair developed an interest in social, cultural and humanitarian design. After his studies, he moved to New York where he worked as a designer and project architect.

Sinclair and Architecture for Humanity co-founder Kate Stohr have compiled a compendium on socially conscious design titled “Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises” (May 2006, Metropolis Books).

In 2004 Fortune Magazine named Cameron Sinclair one of the Aspen Seven, seven people changing the world for the better. He was the recipient of the 2006 TED prize and the 2005 RISD/Target Emerging Designer of the Year. Recently he was selected as a 2008 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and named as one of the 2008 Principal Voices for CNN.

As a result of the TED Prize he and Stohr launched the Open Architecture Network, the world’s first open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design.


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Interview with Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin is the Managing Director and co-Founder of Area/Code, makers of cross-media games and entertainment, and pioneers of large scale, real world multiplayer games.

Area/code works with advertising agencies, media firms, networks, universities, and large consumer brands.
Clients include: Nike, Disney Imagineering, CBS, Nokia, MTV, The Discovery Channel, A&E, The History Channel, JWT, Cramer-Krasselt, Deutsch, SS+K, and the Carnegie Institute / Girls Math and Science Project.

Projects have been awarded at the Clios, the One Show, OMMA and the Future of Marketing Summit.
Area/code and its work have been covered in the Wall Street Journal, Creativity, The New York Times, Businessweek, The Chicago Tribune, MTV, Ad Age, and blogs including boingboing and PSFK.

Kevin Slavin has spoken at MoMA, the Van Alen Institute, the Guardian, DLD, the Cooper Union, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and NBC, and together with Adam Greenfield he co-teaches "Urban Computing" at NYU/ITP. His work has been exhibited internationally, including the Design Museum of London and the Frankfurt Museum fuer Moderne Kunst.

kevin blog.jpg

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Interview with Sophie Thomas

Over the past ten years, as director and joint owner of thomas.matthews London, award-winning communication designer Sophie Thomas has led and delivered a vast array of projects across the world. These range from the highly acclaimed “No Shop” campaign for Friends of the Earth in 1997 to the £15 million interactive Space galleries for the Royal Observatory Greenwich which opened this Spring.
Throughout the years of experience in the communication design industry, Sophie has strived to practice a number of core principles making sure they are instilled in those that work with thomas.matthews. These include working to a set of highly ethical and sustainable principles and bringing elements of humour and innovation into all the work.


Interview by Karol de Rueda

thomas.matthews is a successful communication design agency established in 1997 that believes in good design and sustainability. As a graphic designer, what motivated you to take such direction?
I have always said that as a designer, this is something that I have been always passionate about. I was pretty much the way I was brought up: to be quite political, very vocal about my opinions and to understand and have the knowledge about them. When I was doing my degree, that wasn’t part of my agenda so much. It became much more part of my agenda when I went to college to do my MA and I spent two years thinking about what I really wanted to do with my skill set. Then I started collaborating with Kristine Mathews. We found out that because of our complementary skills and our very similar life agendas, we could do something really powerful. Then, our work and lives started to enforce sustainability.

You have now ten years working with this sustainable philosophy. How hard was at the beginning to deal with clients and the new idea of creating “green” design. How difficult is to re-educate them?
For the beginning, the clients that Kristine and I wanted to work with were very much focused on sustainability, so, the first few projects that we did were very much based on who they were. As we started to grow with the practice, we came up with certain rules about our work like using post consumer papers, talking to our printers about how they use their processes, thinking about alternative materials as well. Those things became part of the way that we work.

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Interview with Halim Choueiry

Originally from Lebanon, Halim Choueiry is the Vice President of ICOGRADA (International Council of Graphic Design Associations), a design educator and practitioner based in Qatar, where culture and education as become a priority. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University. Having obtained a Bachelor's and two Master's degrees, he is undertaking a PhD in Design at Brighton University in the United Kingdom. He also runs his own design studio, CINNAMON and publishes Comma, a quarterly pan-Arab graphic design magazine.

Interview by Karol de Rueda.

Why graphic design?
This kind of things just happens to you. In fact I did a BA in Interior design because that was the closest career I could find related with art...


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Interview with Rose George

I found Rose George's website by googling for "Fabrica student". It's the number one search result right above those of ours (this is as of July 2006). Her article about our legendary Olivero Toscani drew me in and an hour later I was still reading the rest of her website. Intrigued by her writings in both the old COLORS issues and her own articles, I decided to interview her. Rose was never a Fabricante, but spent three years working for COLORS magazine as a senior editor and writer until 1999. Now she is a freelance journalist whose articles frequently appear on the London Review of Books. She has published a book about refugee lives titled "A Life Removed: Hunting for Refuge in the Modern World" and is working on another book about human waste. Luckily, I caught her over email before she jets off to the East for research.

Rose George
Rose George, freelance journalist & author www.rosegeorge.com

b.F: When one picks up an issue of COLORS magazine and read it from cover to cover, one can sort of get a sense that this magazine is run by a liberal-minded, progressive and worldly group of people. What was the atmosphere like for COLORS magazine office in the late 90s?

RG: it was an intense and brilliant experience which was periodically maddening. but it was the best first job anyone could dream of - we were a bunch of young people, all under 30 and most under 25, working in a series of stunning offices (from a crumbly old building with a fountain in Rome, to a gorgeous maison particulier in Paris, to the little house at Fabrica with a view of mountains). we got to spend our lives calling people whereever we wanted to, to ask them what they had for breakfast or how many babies Thai police delivered. we got to go on a day trip to Treviso morgue for the Death issue. And there was, compared to most magazines, incredible freedom. Toscani would impose his will when he wanted, of course, but for the first couple of years, we were left well alone. I know it's really annoying for people to wax lyrical about the good old days and how wonderful it was back then. there were days when it was so intense and infuriating, i'd have to march around the street/garden/wherever for a while to calm down. But in retrospect, it was an incredible introduction into journalism for which I'm very grateful.

b.F: Do you have a favorite COLORS issue?

RG: I have a few favourite issues. I like Touch, because I think it's philosophically interesting. I liked Time, for all sorts of reasons. I liked shopping for the body, because it shows the mad diversity of the world and I like Toys for the line "this is a controversial duck.". I liked the Death issue because it looked head-on at something people spend their lives not looking head-on at, and did it creatively. We had not much shame - me more than others, being a puritan Brit - and we got away with astonishing things, being unshackled by advertisers and Benetton.

b.F: Olivero Toscani is somewhat of a mythical legend around Fabrica now since he is no longer here but everyone knows he created this place. On one hand he sounds crazy, on the other hand he seems to be somewhat of an outlandish genius. What was it like working with him?

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Interview with Joel Gethin Lewis

Hails from Wales, UK, Joel Gethin Lewis was at Fabrica Interactive department for the entirety of 2004 and worked on various Fabrica/Benetton projects. He currently hops around the world and hang out with rockstars for a living, while finding time to do his own art. We caught him over email just as he was getting off a flight from Austria...

Joel Gethin Lewis
Joel Gethin Lewis, artist / interaction designer

b.F: What have you been doing since you left Fabrica?

JGL: Since leaving Fabrica, I started working for UnitedVisualArtists, a company in London. I have worked on a series of projects including U2, Massive Attack, a music video, and several installations. I am always interested in work that helps people get into the moment, to forget everything else. In my own personal work, I am currently working on my first exhibition, as part of a group show in Indianapolis.

b.F: You probably have one of the most envious jobs. Tell us how cool your work is and all the places you get to go to...

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Interview with Jonathan Harris, Artist, ex-Fabricante

Introducing a new feature of blog.Fabrica: Interview section! On top of blogging/reblogging every day, now every two weeks (or so) we will be bringing you our exclusive interviews of people who are, or were once, part of Fabrica.

We premiere this exciting new feature with our friend Jon Harris, creator of the popular 10x10 project, two times winner of the Webby Award, and the designer/programmer of our current Fabrica.it website. Jonathan was at Fabrica from July 2004 and left February 2005, cutting his one-year contract three months short to join a start-up company in New York City. He visited us briefly in May and came back to mensa for a day. From the outside looking in, he considers Fabrica to be "a lot like Walden Pond -- a year in relative isolation to focus on big ideas." Most of us here feel that we're too isolated, but we will probably miss it once we exit. And this is how we were inspired to interview past Fabricanti, to see what happens to people once they leave this pond.

Jonathan's portfolio site is at www.number27.org


b.F: You were recently back to visit Fabrica for a day, how does it feel being back?

JH: Oh, it felt wonderful. Very nostalgic. For all its quirks, Treviso is charming. I spent a sunny evening watching the sky fade over Piazza Signori, sipping some Cabernet Franc. I found it amazingly easy to focus, to regain an objective view on life, even for the two brief days I was there. Some things had been bothering me about work and life back home in New York, and I was suddenly able to see them very clearly, and resolve them in my mind. The whole trip made me feel I was in this secret place that the rest of the world didn't know about, and that I could do my thinking there, beyond distraction. I thought, how wonderful it must have been to have had an entire year in this secret place. But I suppose places rarely retain their hold on us over time. They become flawed, and easily critiqued, so we move on, looking for something better. But that's a cycle that will continue, no matter where we move or what we do, until we learn to be satisfied.

Fabrica itself brought back memories. Walking into the courtyard, beneath the concrete monolith, I experienced the feeling I remembered having each morning when I was at Fabrica -- the feeling of walking into that perfectly austere structure, and somehow wanting to make work that could live up to the building, to that sense of timelessness.

b.F: Looking back, are there anything you wish you could have done more while you were at Fabrica?

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