Berlin through a lens

5th March 2024

Berlin is a second home to me. I lived there for eight years, and during this time, I loved the city, hated it and loved it again. I left since two years in favour of the warmer and sunnier Barcelona, but I still visit often for work reasons and to spend time with people I love.

Last week, I visited for the first time with the camera, and it was a great feeling to rediscover the city again. It also happened with my hometown, which I discovered again after I left when I was 24 — seeing places you were used to passing through with different eyes. Discover streets that you’ve never had the chance to cross. People, places and faces.

I must admit that Berlin is an easy model; it is easy to shoot in the city. The vast spaces, the variety of people, their backgrounds and lifestyles. It’s a one-of-a-kind bubble that attracts people who resonate with its mindset, mood, and soul.

As a visitor, I’m focusing on what I always appreciated about the city, ignoring what annoyed me.

And photography is the meaning of this rediscovery. It’s a sacred time for me, wandering through the city and discovering how it changed, morphed and adapted. I find this act as a kind of meditation mixed with life-watching training. Because, in the end, it’s not about the photos but the way of looking at the world, people and life. And it’s a catalyst mixing the being here and now with a more enhanced perception of your surroundings.

On digital relationships

3rd February 2024

This is my entry for February’s IndieWeb carnival.

I think my first digital relationship was with the guy hosting this carnival, Manu. It was the result of a #followfriday - the good old days of Twitter.

I’ve always been an in-person person, but this has shifted my needs with time. Living in 5 different cities and 4 different countries left me with a widespread family (chosen and blood make no difference to me).

I had the luck of spending some time with Manu in person, but, as with most of my digital relationships, the connection is more scattered than daily. I tend to be present and physically connect more with the people around me.

With time, the family expanded and moved, making everything more chaotic. Sometimes, I miss replying to a message for days; I miss birthdays and several weddings.

Luckily, family is family, and every time we have the luck of sharing some time (digitally or in person), it is like we met the last time the day before, and this always felt magic to me. Meeting with someone and being puzzled because the last time we met was 3 years ago and feeling like we said goodbye the night before.

Lockdown had a significant impact on the meaning of digital relationships in me. In fact, living alone, screens were the only meaning of connection and belonging besides a canal walk with a friend and any now and then.

This still has an effect on me, especially continuing to work remotely. Belonging and connecting are battles between in-person and screen time. I struggle to balance digital and in-person interaction; as I push myself to live in the present, connecting with someone digitally lets me sometimes feel I’m not since I’m somewhere else with my mind. But that’s the only way to stay connected with some friends.

A middle ground I’m trying is to have rituals to share some quality time in person occasionally; I (luckily) love to travel and have the flexibility to work from wherever I want.

All in all, a relationship is always a relationship, whether digital or in person. The shared experience is what makes it special; it is what shapes the relationship; the medium you connect with is only a means to that.

A pathway to a raw and timely creation (and being)

21st October 2023

I always felt the urge to explore and express myself in several ways — mainly through words, music, photos and interactions.

Through time, I experienced fluctuation between over-structuring full optional solutions (website, studio and digital cameras) to a more minimal and portable ones (everything that would fit in a small backpack and be easily movable).

Lately, I’m feeling the urge to create more and in more spontaneous ways. I’m in a moment in my life where I want to remove any friction between myself and my expression and do it in the rawest possible way.

That’s why, for example, I set up this new website to be able just to write a text file, upload it, and that’s all. And I can do it from whatever device I have at hand when I feel it.

The same goes for my music. I always had big gears for high-quality productions — mainly my MPC Live 2 and big synths — and now I have moved to something that sounds raw, immediate, and fits in my bag — my beloved OP-1 Field and SP404 mk2 combo.

In photos, after years of high-quality digital captures, I just took a plastic box — the Kodak Ektar H35 — and started shooting with film. I love this new feeling of uncertainty and the delayed gratification that comes with films.

All of that points towards a raw and unpolished way to express and experience my life, most probably as a way to fight against my perfectionism and tendency to play safe. Everything gravitates around catching any input in the moment and creating with the only goal of having fun, expressing myself, deepening the experience, and forgetting about the end result.

I think that it’s also an internal fight against our society, where we tend to show only the polished version of ourselves and propagate the perception that everything is easy and perfect. From social media to what we share with the people around us when they ask us how are we. Sometimes we hide our real self to just fit with the context around us or to cause as little friction as possible.

Reflecting on this while deepening my knowledge in Buddhism showed me how disconnected we are sometimes with ourselves or how much we are chained to the idea we have of ourself that forbid us to just be. We project our beliefs and ego into the reality without experiencing it for what it really is. At the end, the main message is simple: everything’s that exists exist in the present only and everything is somehow interconnected.

I think this is what influenced my attitude towards my creations and the strive for a raw expression of my experience.

Pragmatism VS Loose conversations in a remote work life

13th February 2021

Today, we stumbled upon a culture clash during a conversation on Company North Star and Objective and Key Results (OKRs): pragmatic northern Europe vs the loose southern one.

Living in Berlin for a considerable amount of years but coming from Italy, I consider myself a way in between; if on one side I aim to a goal and reach it, on the other hand, I tend to have loose plans to be open to serendipity or influences during the process.

These differences are accentuated during these pandemic times, where we are in a constant video call.

If meetings are proven more effective when there are a clear agenda and goals, now meetings are also a way to keep the connection and human interaction that where characteristics of the office life (read coffee talks for southern culture).

Now, in my experience, a meeting could last longer than planned to make space for chitchat and non-work-related conversations. And it’s totally fine. As a manager, I encourage these situations because they help keep the team together and not lose the human touch. Overall we are all human being, and as much as we love to think, work and personal life are interconnected.

Some could argue that it would work better to schedule a coffee” meeting to catch up. Still, nothing is like spontaneous conversations that could arise in a meeting with colleagues that you rarely work with and meet in some stakeholders update and alignment meetings.

Having these informal conversations could help as a stress reliever and improve the mental health of the team. Something, as leaders, is one of the most important things in these times.

On diversity

24th July 2019

While taking a piano lesson yesterday I was asking why we repeat always chord of A or G and the answer is because we are manipulated” by pop musica that are made mainly by those keys. And day by day we start to like it, and every new song will reinforce our taste.

And then a completely different song appears on our automated playlist.

And how we react? It sounds weird, let’s skip.

I read that we are afraid of what we don’t know, or it’s unfamiliar to us, or it’s different to us.

Isn’t it the same happens with people sometimes? I meet someone that looks completely different than the people I’ve always been surrounded and a subtle feel of scepticism or fear arise at the bottom of my guts. It looks me time to male this feelings disappearing but sometimes they still arise. It’s because this reaction saved us from wild animals back at the beginning of human kind and now they are almost useless.

Not only A and G chords, as we are used to, not same melody. Only meeting new people, new culture, new way of thinking and looking I fell that I can completely erase this software that is installed on my system from the very beginning.

I will listen to those different song more carefully from now on.

What's reality?

5th July 2019

What is reality? Is it the same for everyone? Is it my reality the same of my mom? Is it the same of my friend from my hometown?

I’m thinking a lot about that after traveling for a week back in my hometown. Things that for me are crystal clear or part of the day by day, are not existing there. And that makes me question, what is the reality? Is it mine or theirs? Is it both?

Sometimes we think that reality is what we know, and therefore there are millions of reality at the same time in the world. How can we consider all of them when we create something or where we interact and relate with other person?

I don’t know.

What design thinking can teach politics

26th September 2017

Yesterday talking about the German elections a question arose in my mind:

how is it possible that in a country like Germany, with a not so easy past could give 12.6% of votes to the right-wing party?!”

This brings me back to a week while having a break in my hometown with two of my close friends from Hyper Island. We were talking about democracy, immigration and how policymakers interpret the mood of the citizens.

The discussion started from Brexit and I was questioning how young people could vote Yes’ to such a proposal. I was pointed out as the guy that doesn’t have empathy and cannot understand the people feelings and fears’.

People in a metro station

Rapidly the conversation shifted to the parallel topic of we don’t want immigration” and still, my point was quite clear, is not kicking out people or deny their access that would solve the problem (yes, the same as for Brexit, is not getting out of the EU that would solve the problem).

And yet again, I was pointed out as a person who can’t understand peoples feelings. This time I made my point clearer since I felt this accusation (of me not understanding people and their feeling) was not really true.

What are the needs of the citizen? And is stopping immigration” the solution for this need?

My point is that politicians listen to what people say and not what people need. Just look at the rise of the populist party (Italy could be a good example for this) that scream whatever the people wanna listen to gain some new voters, leveraging over their fears without trying to get the roots of the discontent.

People say we don’t want immigrant because they steal our jobs, but what they really need is stability and some certainty for the future; and is it really ban immigrants the solution to these needs?

Understand what people really need, not just what they say.

One of the main principles of design thinking is to really understand people’s needs and through that get to the real problem to solve before starting ideation and generation of ideas.

There are several models that graphically describe the design thinking process; the one that I like to refer in this context is the double diamond’ introduced in 2005 by the Design Council, as divide the process in two distinct phases for a total of four different stages: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver.

Design Double Diamond

The first diamond describes the process of investigating and define the problem through the discover and define stages. Once the problem is defined, the develop and deliver stages represent the process of idea generation, testing, and production.

The first block is what makes the difference because it aims to define the real problem understanding the people’s real needs. During the discovery stage, you need to deeply understand the users.

Tools like user interviews, shadowing, and experience mapping, serve as a way to acquire a deep understanding of the people needs, desires and their experiences, sometimes more than they actually know; the analysis of the research and insights during the define stage, head to the problems (or opportunities, as I prefer to call them) definition that can, in the second diamond, lead to the creation of innovation — products, services or systems — that will add value for the people that will actually use them.

The designer’s role is to be aware of the possible difficulties of the people to understand and express their needs and being able to capture them together with things they might not be aware of, in other words, their latent needs’. That’s why is important to go beyond what people say.

Coming back to the topic: politicians and how they act.

So, what’s the point?

My feeling of what is missing out, is the deeply understanding of what people really need.

I think what some politicians are not so aware of the difficulties of the people to understand and express their needs; that should be one of the reasons why politicians tend to repeat what people say in order to reinforce their vision and fears and let them feel heard.

In the case of immigration, I don’t think that the real need of people is to kick out and ban children, families, young and old people that are coming from another country. The needs behind, is the of assurance about uncertainty of the future, to feel safe and heard, or, as Alexander Betts says in his TED talk, the desire for people to take back control of their own lives and the feeling that they are unrepresented by politicians”; and these needs are independent on how many immigrants you get in or kick out, it’s something that the government should work together in order to solve the problem without populism and fast solutions.

Post-it wall

So far, design thinking process was applied in the UK by the Government Digital Services for the government digital transformation of the public service system. Founded in 2011 by, GDS is part of the Cabinet Office that operates starting with user needs and one of the biggest examples of how digitalization of the public system could positively impact the life of million people.

In 2013, the Pirate Party Saarland Parliamentary Group explored Design Thinking as a method of seizing suggestions from the population” through a one-day workshop. Even if it seems they have lost their influence looking at the yesterday’s results, they tried to let the citizens feel involved in the solution process.

As we can see, some government organizations are introducing design thinking process in their practice, but there is still a long way to go towards truly listening to people and reacting base on their needs.

I would love to see more initiatives that aim to deeply understand people needs, and the design thinking process taught in the EU parliament through workshops and more co-creation sessions with citizens.

Now more than ever European Union must get together, starting from the language

11th November 2016

It happened again, yesterday while I was trying to solve some bureaucracy stuff the nice girl at the phone replied me wir sind in Deutschland und wir sprechen nur Deutsch” that means we are in Germany and we speak only German”.

Every time I’m getting this reply I have a mix of feeling, from the need to improve my very basic German to the rejection of the idea that in a public office of an amazing metropolis and capital like Berlin you can’t find someone that can help an english speaker on the phone.

Berlin landscape

I totally agree that if someone live in a country should learn the language (and I’m working on it), on the other hand I’m not living only in Germany but in the European Union as well. Those thoughts open to a recurrent question:

why the hell we cannot have a common second language as a Union?!

A common language could help people really feel as a single community with the advantage to improve people vision/experience through the single countries’ cultural diversity.

The official working languages are English, French and German but do that really makes sense? Or is positioning Germany and France over the other EU countries?

Reading the data

According to this survey published in 2012 by European Commission:

In terms of the most common foreign languages spoken, the linguistic map of Europe is similar to that presented in 2005, with the five most widely spoken foreign languages remaining English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%).

Survey results chart

That means that the most spoken second language in Europe is English with a 38%. It’s not a huge percentage but is a good starting point.

We should start to build on what we already have looking at the future instead of be afraid of the difficulties and nostalgic look back to the past.

We all knew that wasn’t going to be easy but we should continue to build it up.

Why after Brexit?

Someone could argue: why do we have to use English as EU official language after Brexit?

Now more than ever embrace English the official EU language makes sense because there will be no country in the EU that has this official language as first language.

That means that every country will be at the same level and continue to have its own language. In addition will start to translate every documents and government paper in English together with teaching officially English in schools since young age.

The most exciting and delicate part will be help every country maintain his own culture and at the same time starting a process of evolution to a more inclusive and unified EU.

I really believe in the future of EU and I think it will be more bright when we will start to act as one single country with respect of the single differences. We must evolve and we have to start from the bottom of our heart.

#MakeEUaRealUnion

My framework for everyday problems

15th April 2016

Often people remember me as the one who always wears a smile. They say that I look like Buddha and they ask me how can that be possible.

Smile is fundamental for me, it brings positive vibes to you and to everyone around you, even if they don’t notice it they are influenced by it.

Why you always smile? — is one of the question often people that I spend more than one meeting with ask me.

If the time is generous I spend some words answering this question by explaining my life framework. It’s a simple set of questions I ask myself when I’m facing a problem.

The main question is: are there any solution to this problem?

This is the most important one. I know that is not hard to answer but at the end the possibilities are only two: YES or NO.

You can argue as long as you want, try all the possible paths but at the end of the day these are the only possible answers to this question.

The first I want to analize is NO, because it let you close the framework.

If there are no solutions to the problem we shouldn’t be sad or angry, just keep on smile and go on!

Why you should smile instead of being angry is simple: being angry is only going to make you feel bad and consume your energies without actually solving any problem. Smile, celebrate, and being positive will instead help you to move on with your life and allow you to spread good vibes to the people around you at the same time.

The other answer, YES, brings us to the next question:

If there is one or more solution, do we really want to take action and do something about it?

Knowing that there is a solution and having one are two different things.

There are many factor to take into account that can influence our actions: our current life, ourselves, our mind. Every action have it’s own price.

Are we really ready to take action and solve this problem?

Find an answer to this question requires effort, maybe more than the first question. But at the end the possible answers are the same: YES or NO. And both bring at the same results.

If you don’t want to take action and solve the problem, why should you be sad or angry? Smile, celebrate and go on.

On the other side,

if you are taking action to solve the problem then smile, celebrate and go on.

It can sound a bit weird but I am always open to celebrate each event, bad or good, it is always an event and that deserves to be celebrated.

Smile and have fun!

Remote working: a long time relationship

16th June 2014

We co-founded Fattelo! remotely on 2011 and we keep up to work like this because of living in different cities. We are lucky, we are in a similar time zone so we can avoid the difficulties of a very different time zones.

Since I moved to Berlin I extended this method of work to my italian clients and I learned more about how to manage a virtual” work relationship especially collaborating with someone who is used to work in your same room.

It’s harder when you start but I think in the future there will be more professionals that will work so. Not every team are ready for that because it involve a strong sense of group and some aspects that if one of them fails, even for one component, the entire projects will be affected. I write down some keywords that can be helpful.

Planning

Planning and organization are the fundamentals of work, in general, because they help you to avoid to wasting your time, but if you are working remotely they are absolutely the most important aspect.

Keep a list of all the tasks and maintain it organized, update it frequently and manage the project splitting it in small tasks. Be sure that all the people involved knows the to do” list, the deadline and the project progress.

Plan a daily or weekly, meeting for talking about what it was done and what is the next thing to do. It is important have constant meeting, for example with Fattelo! we have a weekly video call since the first day we started to work on it. For 3 years it was on Monday but now we changed to Tuesday and if we miss a week we update each others via mail.

Good and frequent communication

A lack of communication is the main issue of remote working.

Working remotely means that the people can’t feel your mood directly. Everybody known that the work must not affected by your mood, but we are human being and if you have a bad day you have to let the team know. Be more clear as you can, you are a group and you have the same goals.

Trust

Without trusting each others you can quit the project now. You need to trust on your partners, on your clients and in everyone is involved in the project. Trust is the basis of a great partnership.

Willpower and enthusiasm

Sometimes remote working means work from home, and this can be a distractive environment and it can drive to be quite lazy.

The remote work requires the desire to be a group, to achieve a goal, it isn’t for lazy workers, you have to wake up every morning with the right incentives otherwise laziness takes over and it will affect the entire group works.

Personally, I worked for a while from home, but I preferred to move in a coworking space where I found new partners and avoided the solitude that could affect the home workers.

Resources

As curious I try often new program that can fit better with my workflow, this is my personal list of resources that could help you.

Work management

Wunderlist my first to do list app, available in all the platform is useful for quick list.

Todoist a great manager of to do list, it allow a deep stratification of the list, but most of the features require premium membership.

Asana the most complete to do list and project manager that I ever used.

Caato Time Tracker a simple but full of features time tracker.

Communication

Google Hangout I use it every day, with Fattelo! we started with Skype but we switch to Google Hangout soon because of its amazing features.

Facebook I know, it’s a social network, but sometimes a private hidden group can be useful.

Files storage

Dropbox everybody knows this app.

Google Drive the Dropbox competitor, personally I use both.

Why it is better for a designer to know code (and vice versa)

18th May 2014

I was an engineer before becoming designer and for a long time I hated writing code, but now I feel so lucky because I finally understand that a designer and a coder can live safely in the same soul, and this stuff is very important as never before.

You (Designer) have ever listened something like this from your developer:

Why did you do this block of 18px instead of 20px?

or (Developer) by your designer:

Why is this text aligned to the left? I made it justified.

I think a lot of working issues when we deal on a web project because, overall, designers think that a great part of developers are weird and, similarly, developers think that designers are dreamers that play with colors and shapes, although luckily there are some exceptions.

Designers are afraid of Html as developers are afraid of Photoshop.

What could happen if we will discover some basics of each world?

In the times were the media is fluid and anything could change in a second, is important to maintain an open flexible mind and to satisfy our curiosity.

Designers could know what is possible to do in web (almost anything now) and developers could understand more deeply what we are coding, but more widely, known more about other fields, like user experience and user interface, make us a better freelancer.

As a designer when I work with a developer I tend to collaborate with someone that know the basic of design and, when I can, I tend to do both, design and develop because I’m sure that the final result fits perfectly with the design process.

All the posts

Berlin through a lens

5th Mar 2024

On digital relationships

3rd Feb 2024

A pathway to a raw and timely creation (and being)

21st Oct 2023

Pragmatism VS Loose conversations in a remote work life

13th Feb 2021

On diversity

24th Jul 2019

What's reality?

5th Jul 2019

What design thinking can teach politics

26th Sep 2017

Now more than ever European Union must get together, starting from the language

11th Nov 2016

My framework for everyday problems

15th Apr 2016

Remote working: a long time relationship

16th Jun 2014

Why it is better for a designer to know code (and vice versa)

18th May 2014