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What exactly goes on at Fabrica?

A quick review:

Fabrica is the Benetton Research and Development Communication Centre situated outside Treviso in North Italy. Led by an international team, Fabrica supports the creative development of young artist/researchers from all over the world. Fabrica invites young artists to participate in a range of communication activities, in cinema or graphics, design or music, as part of Colors Magazine, or within new media or photography.

I have heard all sorts of things about Fabrica ranging from “it’s the best experience ever” to “Fabrica is the devil”.

There is some very interesting work done there, mainly with social or political commentary. And it’s hard not to notice the Colors Magazine influence, both visually and contextually.

I’m intrigued, anybody have any insight?

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ARCHIVE ID 1268 FILED UNDER Design Academics
PUBLISHED ON Oct.11.2002 BY Armin
Kiran’s comment is:

Fabrica has intrigued me for a long time, glad you brought it up Armin. Although I have a general understanding of what is done there I still try and decipher their vague web site descriptions. I've been planning to apply for over a year and have been speaking with them about portfolio requirements which are very vague as well. I wanted to drop my portfolio off last February while in Paris but they do not accept personal presentations. It takes about a month for a portfolio to be reviewed.

Here's some more general info:


To apply to Fabrica all you need to do is to send a copy of your portfolio (not the original), a letter of application and a letter of reference from a teacher, professor or other person who is deeply involved in your work. All CD-Rom based portfolios must include a print copy. Applications are accepted throughout the year and may written be in English, Italian or French.

Selection requirements

You must be under 25, speak English well and be able to use technical equipment related to your field.


If your portfolio meets selection criteria, you will be invited to Fabrica for a trial period of two weeks. Accommodation and lunch will be provided, but you will arrange to pay for travel expenses. If the trial period is successful, you will get a contract/scholarship.

Terms of agreement

The contract/scholarship includes: return trip from your country; accommodation in Treviso (to share with another Fabrica grant holder); lunch from Monday to Friday; a monthly money supply to cover living expenses; insurance for the entire duration of the contract.

Steve Lawler seems to be the most talked about to come out of Fabrica recently. I think he was in the latest issue of ID.

If anyone has any more information or first hand experience I would be interested to hear about it. I have one year of eligibility left come this Wednesday!

On Oct.11.2002 at 12:10 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"All CD-Rom based portfolios must include a print copy."


"lunch from Monday to Friday"


On Oct.11.2002 at 01:49 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Steve Lawler

He was in ID magazine, an article about something like fresh talent. He is talented, that's for sure. A bit disturbed too.

On Oct.11.2002 at 02:03 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>If your portfolio meets selection criteria,

Good thing they elaborate, because otherwise I would have been confused.

I had heard of Fabrica when I was in college, and was kind of thinking about applying, but back then I didn't care enough about design, but a year in Italy didn't sound like such a bad idea. And, now at 25, it seems like I'm too old.

I wonder if they are snobby people? it seems like a small club for "smart people" only. But that's just the feeling I get, I have no clue about what happens there.

On Oct.11.2002 at 02:35 PM
Peter’s comment is:

a friend of mine went there. he hated it. they had a big idea bank where everyone had to put there ideas, then anyone could use that idea for whatever purpuse. i guess it's ok if you are the group thinking kinda person. a bit harder if you want your own ideas to be yours.

On Oct.11.2002 at 02:49 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"i guess it's ok if you are the group thinking kinda person."

Which, to be fair, is really what graphic design, as a business, is about.

I've always found 'group' thinking to be much more productive in terms of solving the needs of the client in a timely matter. You loose the self-gloating/pride that one would get with running a project autonomously from start to finish, but if that's important to, then be an artist.

I've worked at firms that practiced this differently. The bigger firm I was with was all about "you two go come up with ideas, and then we'll pick the best and let that person go with it" and I was with firms where you would work in groups to brainstorm, then break individually, and then come back as a group to hack out the final solution. The latter was always more productive in terms of quantity and time.

IMHO, of course.

On Oct.11.2002 at 04:49 PM
surts’s comment is:

fyi: Benetton Hires Kurt Andersen to Burnish 'Colors' (nytimes)

On Nov.03.2003 at 11:25 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Interesting, Number 17 is now the design firm. Fernando Gutierrez of Pentagram didn't get much of a chance then? I think he was in charge of Colors for the past year or more´┐Ż it was in the latest issue of STEP if anybody is interested.

On Nov.03.2003 at 12:29 PM
Nacho’s comment is:

I know a Mexican photographer who was in Fabrica the last year that Toscani was in charge. She said that he created such tension during his famous or infamous friday reviews that people would have emotional break downs. Her best experience there was meeting, working and partying with great creative people from all over the planet and meeting famous visiting artists. Also Fabrica is known as one of the more diversified geographically and professionally programs in the world.

On Dec.01.2003 at 02:32 PM
surts’s comment is:

Toning Down the Colors of Benetton (revamped Colors, the magazine) from NYT

On Apr.27.2004 at 11:33 AM