October 4th, 2005


Fabrica: use the day™

Some of the students at my Teach Me workshops were from Fabrica, the college run by Benetton outside Treviso. They were kind enough to invite me to see Fabrica, so yesterday I left a grey Venice being lashed by wind and rain (the water was slopping right out of the canals over the walkways), took a train to Treviso, and spent most of the day hanging out in Tadao Ando's elegant building, set amongst vineyards. I came away laden with copies of Colors and Fab, the college's in-house fiction and design magazine.

It was amazing to meet an old friend from Paris there, Pierre, former boyfriend of Kahimi Karie. We went for drinks afterwards, with Juliana from Singapore, Meric from Istanbul, Gulla from Rekyavik. My impressions of Fabrica: lots of lovely work on display, but I'm amazed it doesn't have a cafe, because art school cafes are the places where people from different departments can mingle (or, more often, skulk and huddle in segregated posses). Fabrica feels a bit sparsely populated; there are only about 45 students, because, unlike ordinary art schools which profit from every additional student, Fabrica pays for you, based on your work, your ideas, and an interview. If you're selected they pay for everything, your travel, bed and board, as well as a €500 a month allowance. In return (if I understood it right) they can use what you produce in advertising, projects, and "communication research". It's not a bad system, a kind of apprenticeship in commercial art. There are some oddities, though; no illustration department, but a writing department! The saddest thing is that Oliviero Toscani is no longer around. Something of the soul of the place left with him, I suspect.

When I got back to Venice and fell asleep I had a dream about Fabrica. It was a warren of secret dens, laboratories, beds. Staff from the advertising agency were making a presentation, the usual full-on, multi-racial "united colors" stuff, with pretty fold-out posters. Suddenly I came up with a brilliant slogan: "Use the day!" I wasn't a student, just an observer, so I hesitated to tell them. But I knew they'd want to use it, so I blurted it out. They loved it, of course; the combination of "seize the day" and "use it or lose it". It could be the new "Just do it!" They wanted to make campaigns with it immediately. But we had to enter into negotiations about who owned copyright on the phrase. I scribbled it on a napkin, dated the scribble, and photographed it to prove ownership at a later date. "I'll post it on the internet, just to make sure the world knows the phrase is mine," I thought.

So here it is, Benetton:

Use the day.™

Use it or lose it... the price is one million euros.