We’re in Italy for 7 weeks, and we are spending 4 of them in Rome because when the group came last year we were really fascinated with what was happening in Rome, we felt that it was kind of bubbling, there was lots of new energy and things were opening up for Roman designers. We had a terrific interview with Luca Galofaro last year, and also with Filippo Spaini and they both were talking about how the competitions were not very fair for a long time and it was very difficult for these architects coming out to get work, establish themselves and get a name.

Yes this is true.  Until four years ago, if you wanted to do a contemporary project in Rome you had to hide it. Just hide it. It was very tough because you were never recognized [for your work]…Now there are lots of contemporary projects in Rome…  [The big-name architects] pushed the contemporary culture of Rome… Now they have this new challenge and that is to diffuse the contemporary culture and give everyone the same opportunities.

Interviewer’s notes: As stating in an excerpt describing an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on Italian Design and Avant-garde in the 20th Century:
A great deal of what was produced in Italian design can be explained by the philosophical and aesthetic heritage of the humanist culture. From the dawn of the twentieth century, this heritage has been reinterpreted in various ways. Almost every decade saw the emergence of new “philosophies” and “aesthetics,” which gave rise to innovative ideas that profoundly influenced the cultural debate on art and design: Futurism (Marinetti, Boccioni and Balla), Metaphysical Painting (De Chirico and Carrà), Rationalism (Terragni, Baldessari and Albini), the Novecento Italiano (Sironi, Muzio and Ponti) and, in the mid-1960s, Radical Design (Archizoom, Pesce, Mendini and several others) and Arte Povera (Pistoletto), which revived debate on the consumer society. Then, after a rather sombre period in the 1970s, when Radical Design lost some of its drive, concepts of High Tech rationalism pushed designers to find simple mechanical forms for this new age. This movement was followed by a reaction to the crisis of modernity in the late 1970s led by the Memphis Group (Ettore Sottsass) in the field of design, and by the Trans-avant-garde in the art world (Cucchi, Paladino and Clemente). http://www.mmfa.qc.ca/en/expositions/exposition_105.html

[We feel there] is a wider problem that has to do with the energy of the world. Now the energy transformation of the world is not in Europe, not in Italy, not in Rome, but is in the Far East and in America.

Polini said some interesting things at a conference, he said that we are forgetting the way that cities can transform and we are forgetting the way they transformed in the past and we are just swimming in this story, this history…so he said the perfect [situation would be] to have our culture and the energy of these other countries that are so quickly transforming themselves…

Even if we feel contemporary in Italy we suffer a lot because we are conservative…we need to create a contemporary aesthetic. We stopped in the 70’s when it was the economic boom and now we don’t have a very contemporary aesthetic approach.  We don’t have a contemporary identity, and this is not just an architectural problem, it is an economic problem, a problem with the schools, the universities. I think [Italian design] needs energy, courage and young people.