Cliostraat is a multidisciplinary design group based in Torino, Italy. Cliostraat works in the field of architecture, art, and design. It has been active in Italy, Germany, Japan, Thailand, and Beijing. It operates on the realm of contemporary urban territories, as part of a worldwide network of collaborations that generates positive contaminations between different disciplines and different cultures. Multiple expressive forms and research directions coexist in a sort of collective investigation of contemporary world, with the aim to enrich the procedures and techniques of the professional architectural practice.
— excerpt from www.cliostraat.com
Interaction Design maybe only beginning to attract mainstream focus in Italy. With its more novel process, products, and general experience, a more different structure for design firms seems fitting. For example, Clistraat sees its designers as individual freelance artists working together in groups other than employees working under some employer. Having this creative surrounding, a range of ideas can be blended to build complex innovative projects.
I think these things [adapting Interaction Design] go little by little of course, because Italy is a country use to very slow changes. It’s very difficult to say ‘ok, this is brand new’ and then all of a sudden everybody [accept it].
“To talk about interaction design in Italy five years ago, it was really like looking for water in the middle of the desert…there was nothing like that”
We had a reform of the university system in Italy. 10 years ago. And unfortunately I got into university in the first year of this reform so I experienced the difference. The first year it’s learn how to think about that subject. Architecture, that’s it. After the reform, it’s much more similar to a factory that has to produce people who they can use. And the highest number of persons that school is able to finish with a degree, the bigger the success for the school… we call it the ‘factory of excellence’.
We are a group, not a form of a company. Each of us is a free self point of view, a free professional…how to say? I don’t know the word… [Mr. Russell Taylor answers, “freelance?” Freelance…and then we work within a group because we like. Because we think it enriches the quality of the things that you can do. It improves it. And then as a group we try to be part of a network, an ever-changing network of relations with Italy and out of Italy especially. Formally there is no hierarchy. Then of course when we sit around a table, and we discuss about projects there is always a better idea or another idea or even there are two ideas each. It is different to say which is better, more charismatic… we fight a lot within ourselves. Even for toilet paper. But there are normal things that will happen, we have to share some experience with other people. That we are Italian and so we are louder than usual. But it is also… this system is the only possible one that would allow nine different people with nine different interests to work together and conterminate the things that we do with… in a richer way, a more interesting way. Stefano is teaching and working in IVREA, the other Stefano is teaching in Milan and I’m doing researching in China and other things…
And it’s when you do a project and you sit together you realize the fact that the different people do have different interests. And they will put in the project some ideas or contributions or things that which are beyond maybe your personal skills of interests and so you may not think about it. But then it comes from another member of the group.