While we are touring Italy to explore the home-grown maker revolution, let me tell you the story of one of them, Massimo Menichinelli, who left his native land in 2011 to travel to Helsinki, Finland.
Once here, I discovered more than I could possibly have imagined. Massimo is our very own Cicero: originally from Liguria, he moved first to Milan and then migrated north to establish the first Fablab inside Aalto University, one of the world’s most renowned design colleges.
Here, he works with Anu from the Netherlands, and Ali from India, to train the students and build up the Aalto Fablab, founded a year and a half ago.
Visiting a centre like Aalto University is like entering a huge creative workshop, where the students have access to every sort of space and equipment, and the time and inspiration to encourage invention. This is all available without the need to pay astronomical fees: it is the State that provides and the student only suffers from an embarrassment of choice. We soon discovered by talking to Massimo and the teachers at the Aalto Media Factory, Teemu and Juhani, that the whole Finnish educational system includes many hours of manual and creative work, training students right from the start in the use of machinery and materials.
I also discovered that in Helsinki in May the Sun sets at 22.30 and rises again at 4.00, that it’s much less cold than I envisaged, and that the underground trains are fluorescent orange. I found out that you can conduct interviews outside the public saunas, considered good places to spend your free time and to chat (completely naked) about business or politics, in a setting where people are generally not accustomed to staring.
Helsinki has a lot more stories to relate. I’ll make sure I tell them to you soon.