A series of workshops in direct contact with the urban fabric of the city of Milan, to observe the city through the 5 + 1 senses – a specific field research project – aimed at capturing, understanding and transforming hidden identities into simple reading systems. A true “design process” that can describe complex systems in terms of project communication codes, through the use of cognitive mapping.

Professional staff will accompany this project through a multidisciplinary approach based on information sharing. 
The point of departure for “SENSE THE PLACE” workshops is a colour mapping from where the project moves on to investigate those fonts that can best represent the city’s identity, its texture, its sounds, its smells, its tastes, its distinguishing marks, etc… These macro-categories, in turn, lead to in-depth reflections on contemporaneity, on communality, on day to day life, on people, and on all those things that surround us without being noticed, all of which are narrated in an unconventional way.

Design attitude: project relevance
5+1 senses of Milan

key-moods > sense the place
key-tones > sense of color
key-fonts > sense of sign
key-symbol > sense of mark
key-texture > sense of touch
key-vibes > sense of sound
key-smells > sense of smell
key-flavours > sense of taste

Moods = urbanity, sociality, usability, adaptability, people, places, scale, neighborhood, behaviors, habits, cultures, cultural-mix, diversity, fifty-fitty, 24h, paths, cityscapes, dynamism, temporary, dwell, permanent, journey, deliver, devices, tools, materic, stikiness, slippery, fragrances, smart grids, rumors, daily snatches, tone of voice, politics, benefits, deseases, noises, dirt, violation, provisions, trading, marketplace, producing, residual energy, expired, vital


During the “Fuori Salone 2010″, at the “Triennale Bovisa” Museum in Milan, the two year “Product Design” course has worked on the Key-tones project. A meticulous photographic reportage on the urban identity of Milan aimed at identifying the colour code that best characterizes the city.

A map measuring 7 meters in length and 2 meters wide displays over one thousand macro details that are organized in a chromatic system that is similar to the language used by Pantone.


Creating the colour charts that define Milan.

What gives Milan its shades of green?

What gives Milan its shades of red?

What gives Milan its shades of purple?

What gives Milan its shades of magenta?

What gives Milan its shades of brown?

What gives Milan its shades of white?

What gives Milan its shades of black?

What gives Milan its shades of grey?

What gives Milan its darker shades of blue?

What gives Milan its lighter shades of blue?

What gives Milan its shades of orange?

What gives Milan its shades of yellow?


“Sense the Place” is born


The “SENSE THE PLACE” series of Workshops was part of a project to start a two year specialization course in Product Design at the “Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti” (NABA) (New Academy of Fine Arts) that took place between 2009-11. Initially the intention was for these workshops to be an observatory for the city of Milan in light of the 2015 Expo and then become a FORMAT for colour coding cities in other countries. These workshops adopt the design philosophy of the course which makes use of Design as a process and research as a mechanism for investigation to collect and process cultural content in cognitive maps.

This platform, which is an INTERSEZIONI‘s format, serves as an opportunity to bring together professionals, students, researcher, architect and designer in order to start a dialogue and a series of cultural reflections that will then be broadcast and distributed through blogs and publications.

MA in Design Product at NABA 2009-11

Introduction: the multidisciplinarity of contemporary design

The classic definition of design as a discipline tied to objects and to the intuition of the single designer that develops “the object” together with the visionary entrepreneur is now outdated.
Design was redefined according to the complex dynamics of an evolving society, which learnt to consume and use not just objects, but entire families of products and services tied to the objects themselves.
Nowadays, to design means to be aware of and take into consideration complex processes that tie products to services. Those processes meet the requirements and behaviors – less and less conventional ones – of fast-paced communities used to fast changes, very long or extremely short days, changing and never linear modes.

The relationship between creator (who designs) and producer (who produces) was reconfigured in a wide design environment that often involves actors that are internal or external to the company, with the common objective of interpreting users needs and translate them into actual ideas and experiences.
The product is now part of a wider vision, including all the modalities a company uses to communicate and represent itself. Its image, recognizability, and brand appearance, are expressed in the product as the values that lead people to recognize themselves with a specific brand and identify in it behavioral systems they long for.
Starting from Design as a multidiscipline, the two-year program focuses on User Centric dynamics that investigate real Man-Man, Man-Object, Man-Space and Man-Service interactions through the practice of daily life activities. The program aims to provide designers the flexibility and open-mindedness needed to analyze complex processes and create opportunities, in order to create effective solutions to the issues presented by the current market.

Educational philosophy: learning in a community

The two-year specialization program in Product Design aims to help students to become design professionals capable of offering a high level cultural flexibility and excellent decision making ability, and to choose and develop complex systems related to spaces, products, and services.
The program emphasizes the strong relations between physical space and the students’ academic life: the majority of the activities take place in the same space, in which students closely work and live. The ability to share both personal and professional aspects of daily life creates a strong bond with the space and the environment in which the young designer sets the basis to become a real professional. It is a defined and recognizable place that allows to feel part of a community, within which information and experiences can be shared in a constant flow of mutual exchanges: workshops, labs, discussions.
The room becomes a real studio, in which the professor supports the student in the project development and discussion. The relationship generated within the studio is one of discussion/observations between experienced professional and young designer, rather than a classic professor-student relationship.