GIOVANNI OTTONELLO STUDIED ARCHITECTURE IN GENOVA AND AFTER VARIOUS EXPERIENCES IN THE FIELD OF MUSEUM AND SCENOGRAPHIC EXHIBITS, HE APPROACHED THE WORLD OF FASHION THROUGH THE STUDY OF THE FABRIC IN ITS VARIETY OF EXPRESSIONS AND DESIGNS. IN THE PAST HE LAUNCHED EVENTS, AS A SET DESIGNER, AT THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM GENOA. TODAY, GIOVANNI, IS THE ART DIRECTOR OF IED - ISTITUTO EUROPEO DI DESIGN. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GIOVANNI’S PROJECTS WITH IED & MORE FROM THE INTERVIEW BELOW.
Throughout his career he has worked with some of the most important fashion brands in the industry, including Salvatore Ferragamo , Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Lancia, Ethos and more with a focus on visual merchandising or updates on the contemporary. His current work involves lectureships and participation in seminars or conferences ranging from graphics, to fashion, from design to photography and contemporary art in various design and fashion institutes. Some of his collaborations are: IED, Politecnico Milan, Accademia della Scala, Domus Academy, Confindustria Macerata, Italian Cultural Institutes in Moscow, Bogotà, Saint Petersburg and Munich, Dante Alighieri Association in Nuremberg, Accademy of Fine Arts in Tbilisi (Georgia), FAD School in Pune (India), Ural Federal University of Architecture in Ekaterinburg (Russia), Universidad de Los Andes and Tadeo in Bogotá (Colombia), University of Tsinghua, Senmiao, Yingsheng, BIFT in Beijing, NUCH, IDAF in Seoul.
1. Why a fashion brand should decide to go into the field of sustainability?
I start from a phrase by Rem Koolhass: But now sustainability is such a political category that it’s getting more and more difficult to think about it in a serious way. Sustainability has become an ornament, to say that often the words eco, sustainability, nature, respect, recycling… are used only as if they were part of a trend. Reality speaks to us of something else. The Fashion system is the second most polluting industry in the world and so far very little has been done not only about internal processes but also about the great power it can use to reach the masses. 2600 liter water for making a t-shirt today. We can no longer pretend!
2. What do you think is biggest challenge for a brand to face while working on sustainability?
The ordinary consumer never dwells on the label and buys for the most varied reasons almost never linked to the quality of the fabric. The most important word is education: educating people to be aware of what they are buying through the traceability of each part of the process. Awareness of what you are buying.
3. Tell me about your three favorite projects ( competitions and more ) in sustainable fashion worldwide.
I would definitely start with the project The Time is Now! a project promoted by Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in collaboration with CID-Detox (Consorzio Italiano Implementazione Detox) and Greenpeace Italy. The project will lead to the creation of five eco-green capsule collections. It was born with the selection, by a special jury, of a group of IED students of the 3r d year of the Courses of Fashion Design and Fashion Stylist of IED Milano, Roma, Torino and Como. Then I would like to speak about Javier Goyeneche, the founder of ECOALF, a spanish fashion brand that turns discarded fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles and coffee into clothes. It uses the highest quality recycled fabrics to create a new generation of sustainable products. Made out of 100% recycled plastic materials to produce high-quality fashion; but most important of all, it uses the recycled plastic trash collected from the oceans. And then the Vegea project, startup Made in Italy that combines the goodness of wine with the beauty of leather bags, shoes and clothing and eco-sustainable innovation.
4. How do you successfully communicate the effectiveness of sustainable initiatives to your students?
Since 2018, an important project has been underway in the areas of fashion and design (we were present at the Salone del Mobile with sustainable projects) to bring our students closer to becoming more aware of the enormous problems related to our Planet. Every year IED has about ten thousand students and we feel a great responsibility. Great projects but also everyday life, teaching how to save paper or how the separate collection should therefore be mandatory! During the last Design Week in Milan, IED presented its contribution with Under Pressure, an international project on the key issue of sustainability that involved students from the 11 IED Network sites in Italy, Spain and Brazil. Under Pressure is a three-year project, the first phase saw the launch, in January, of the 100 questions for tomorrow competition aimed at the school’s students who were asked to submit questions conveying their desire to see action taken on the issue. IED selected the hundred “most urgent”, provocative and original questions from those submitted in order to reflect on how we can save our relationship with nature and which of our planet’s equilibriums are coming under great pressure. The final goal is the launch, in the next two years, of 100 design projects based on the principle that the development of society is only possible if we respect the concept of social, economic and environmental sustainability.
5. Share an example of a sustainability project goal or strategy IED – Istituto Europeo di Design developed which helped your alumni.
I have already mentioned an IED fashion project and now I would like to mention STALACTITE. Project of our campus in Barcelona. It is designed to provide an inexpensive and sustainable source of drinking water, with the ultimate goal of reducing the consumption of bottled water. Stalactite is composed of thirteen parts that can be assembled without the use of screws or tools of any kind. The device is intended to have a ten-year lifespan, which each of its thirteen components replaceable as needed. By providing an organic and resilient tool for purifying tap water, Stalactite encourages good health while discouraging waste.
Photo courtesy Giovanni Ottonello