Stefano Mirti and Andrea Quartarone - April 2020

The Scuola Superiore d'Arte Applicata in Milan is a professional school of artistic craftsmanship, founded in 1882. During its almost 150 years of life, the Scuola went through times of peace and times of war, monarchies, totalitarian regimes and democracies, economic crisis and boom, social struggles and political movements, cultural and technological changes. In fact, it also went through a couple of epidemics: the Spanish flu of '18-'20 and the Hong Kong flu of '68-'69. This is not to say that we have already seen and lived through what we are seeing and living through today, because every season is a season in itself, but it is to say that the Scuola - like many institutions, companies and other realities with a bit of past behind them - has weathered some very difficult moments over time, always adapting, not without difficulties, to the contemporary world.

As for the Covid-19 pandemic and this dramatic and bizarre period in our lives, it is perhaps inappropriate to think about what morals will come out of it. Because there will be many different and contradictory morals that each of us will take from this situation. But one thing is certain: the health emergency of these few weeks is forcing everyone to make certain changes, sometimes radical, in lifestyle, in business models, in interpretative schemes of reality. And everything suggests that this long night will leave behind a world that is different, at least in part, than the one it found.

It is therefore necessary to be resilient. We have to already be looking at the new world to come, which could very probably be a little less physical and a little more digital than the one we have lived in so far. Don't be afraid of change, on the contrary: try to dominate it so as not to be swept away by it. Jump or die, as the British would say.

On the one hand, there is the level of observing what is happening, of analysis. Before launching into new projects, it was important for us to read what others thought, to look at other points of view, to confront ourselves. At the bottom of the page you will find some articles that helped us out, suggesting that we look in very different directions, in a process of learning and understanding that is useful even when it’s not entirely organized.

After that, we got to work on trying to imagine a new, different school that is able to take into account the new constraints, the new limitations but also the new forces and movements that are stirring around us. In the beginning we thought of the most trivial and undoubtedly necessary thing: to immediately transfer the courses in progress offline, as all the other schools and universities have done. A mobilization of people and activities that was an indescribable effort for the Scuola, for its precious teachers and the many students. But once the transshipment was complete and we thought the operation was largely successful, we said to ourselves: something more must be done. Continuing our online courses for our students alone might not be enough in this new world where the key is community. We had to be more ambitious, to try to bring out a certain idea of the future, that was also strong in its availability, intelligence and energy of a compact and extraordinary teaching staff, lucid in thought, full of imagination and, last but not least, full of smiles. It was necessary to open up, share, create mass, to go beyond the city boundaries and also–in these difficult times–to hold fast and have a bit of company.

And so the Scuola created a social TV, with a free multi-genre schedule already available, which can currently be accessed through our Facebook page and will soon be multiplatform. It’s a TV that also has a name, Lapis–like the pencil, that strange and simple tool which can be used to write, draw, design beautiful things–and it speaks to adults as much as to children between the ages of 5-8 and 9-12, with edutainment content especially designed for them, working their fingers and stimulating thoughts. We are talking about stand-alone lessons (i.e. not requiring previous knowledge or skills) on our longstanding subjects but also about chamber concerts, recipes, and tutorials on how to create board games. The list is long and varied and it will continuously be even more so over time.

We would like to clarify one thing: we have not conceived Lapis as only a showcase for the Scuola’s educational offer. Lapis has its own identity, its own autonomous purpose, its own life (which, however, will always be inextricably linked to the Scuola). Lapis may seem as just an Open Day available 365 days a year (excluding holidays!), but it's much more than that: it's an Open School, a concept that we certainly didn't invent ourselves, but that we put into practice in our own way with that influential yet informal style of substance and heart which has defined the Scuola for almost 150 years.

How will this adventure go? Of course we need resources, which need to be found, but we're optimistic. We’re looking at the numbers with satisfaction–we’re followed by a lot of people from home–and it seems to be going much better than we expected. But, of course, if this were a trip to the moon we'd only be thirty-two seconds away from Cape Canaveral. We're still only a few hundred meters from the earth's surface, everything here is trembling and the sensors are going crazy, but we, the staff, the teachers and the students–resolute and confident–are heading to the moon.

This contribution contributo was made by Stefano Mirti and Andrea Quartarone collecting and synthesizing ideas and contributions from the Lapis staff and the Scuola Superiore d’Arte Applicata - Fosca Salvi, Francesca Miscioscia, Federico Lepore - and it's signed by all.

Here are the readings we found most interesting.
Nemesis, The Umami Theory of Value: Autopsy of the Experience Economy

Charles Eisenstein, The Coronation

Olga Tokarczuk, Coronavirus, la verità è che per noi cambierà l’intera esistenza

Vincenzo Cosenza, Come il virus ha cambiato le abitudini digitali degli italiani

Nesta, There will be no back to normal,6U6DF,UKEDO8,REO6S,1

Stefano Mirti and Andrea Quartarone - from Lapis of Super – Scuola Superiore d’Arte Applicata