InterviewsMassimo Temporelli: “How world changers think”.


Big things are brewing in Milan. It’s a city in evolution, and seems like it’s moving faster than the rest of Italy. As fast as London? Well, let’s just say it’s getting a little closer every day. Innovation is a challenge in Italy, now more than ever. There’s so much technological progress, and every facet of our lives is being revolutionised rapidly and uncontrollably every day. Is this what evolution is? For some, it feels more like fear. Fear of being left behind, of not being up to the task, or simply being resistant to change. But we’d rather go beyond the stereotypes, analyze the benefits and grab the opportunities that this major revolution is creating.

That’s why we recently stopped by Bou-tek, an interesting space in Milan, for an event hosted by Wired in the Social Home of Ford Italy. It talked about cloud computing, digital fabrication, IoT – basically the fourth industrial revolution. And there to expand on these themes even more was Massimo Temporelli. Entrepreneur, teacher, and most importantly, co-founder of TheFabLab, an innovative and creative laboratory in Milan. We met him at the Talent Garden of Calabiana, TheFabLab site.

One of your books is titled Innovators. We’re all wondering, “how do world changers think?”


First of all, you need to focus on the work more than the idea. I believe that people who have changed the world dedicated a lot of time to the execution. There’s much more work than fun involved. If you think about Edison, or Steve Jobs – sure they were creative, but they were also determined and extremely hardworking. And of course context is fundamental. The people who change the world are the ones really living in it. You have to know the world if you want to change it. If you’re isolated, you can write all the poems or stories you want about your vision of reality, but you can’t change a world that you don’t know anything about.

TheFabLab is a creative lab where change becomes concrete. What are smart objects?


What’s going to happen is that objects will come in all different materials and shapes, but they’ll all be connected, and they’ll all have the capacity to collect information. For example, a smart chair could tell me how many seats are available in a restaurant through a simple notification, which could then pass through an app that interacts within an ecosystem of other technology. The product becomes a service, and the service a product. If I google “History museum” and select ‘images’, I’ll see a series of objects from the past. In the same way, in the future all the non-connected objects will look like artifacts.

The FabLab - Dotmug

And in the world of Food… have you developed any innovative products?

“Mondo Pasta” was a really interesting project. Led by Stefano Maffei and 7 Italian designers, they tried to transform pasta into a new experience. They bought tradition together with digital production, hacking Italian cooking methods. Can you tattoo ravioli? We did it. We also experimented with chocolate in 3D printers. It melts just like plastic at a certain temperature, and then hardens.

Speaking of hackers, Anderson talked about the “makers” movement, envisioning a future where anyone can become a producer…

I don’t think so. One day, companies will delegate the actual production of physical goods to us consumers, but not their design. Today, I have to get raw materials, bring them to a factory, then distribute the final product and hope that customers will come buy it. In the future, I’ll upload a file of my product on iTunes, you’ll download it and print it. The new consumer won’t just consume a product – they’ll be the ones who make it. Distributing information about goods will be more important than distributing the goods themselves.

When we talk about industry 4.0, why should we think more about the opportunities than the threats?

Technology is not something external. People are the ones that are choosing it. In our relationship with objects, we’ve gained awareness of the world around us. Otherwise we’d regress back to being apes. But if we all chose to work together to reach this point, it’s also because we realized we would profit from it. We transformed ourselves with technology. Mankind has changed, and it’s normal that we experience fear (as well as enthusiasm) during the process of evolution.

One of people’s biggest worries is about the process of automation at work, which is seen as a threat for many people. Can we reassure them?

Organisms evolve, but so do human organizations. Before, there was a pyramid with the working class at the bottom–those with so-called ‘humble’ jobs. Then there was the intellectual elite, and the ruling class on top. But this pyramid was made for a different reality – one that doesn’t exist anymore. Just like we no longer have tails, this reality has also disappeared. Surely with a skill upgrade, we can assure people and hope that there’s a place for everyone.

Let’s talk about entrepreneurs. Particularly for startups, is this an opportunity to create new markets?


I believe that we’re all human, and that change happens to scale. If you’re intelligent and keep your eyes open, well, that’s the trick. The important thing is to look around and collect data. If you ask me, the whole startup movement is overestimated. Entrepreneurs today are exactly like the ones in the past. If you have a good product and clear ideas, you’ll do business like Olivetti did with its typewriters in the past. And at the same time, there’s also natural selection. How many have done it, and how many are doing it now? Obviously, the more people that try, the higher the probability is that someone will succeed. You have to be a constant receiver of stimuli, and you can’t be static on the market. Change has become collaborative between consumers and producers.

Our really interesting chat continued in a flow of words and reflections, but also a lot of doubts. And it’s natural to have them. They’re part of the evolution process.

Michela Di Nuzzo

« Se scrivo ciò che sento è perché così facendo abbasso la febbre di sentire». - Fernando Pessoa Giornalista e co-founder, vivo il digital come imprenditrice e appassionata. Percepisco il cambiamento come un'opportunitá mai una minaccia. Occhi spalancati e orecchie aperte, sempre pronta alla condivisione, la chiave di ogni evoluzione.

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