MILAN — Istituto Marangoni has made its move into the metaverse.
After opening campuses in Milan, Paris, London and Mumbai, as well as Shenzhen, Miami, Dubai, Shanghai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Shenzhen, the school now has its own campus. “The Talent District,”Its metaverse space aimed to enhance engagement with its Gen Z student and develop their digital skillsets.
The virtual space offers a user-friendly experience and includes many areas visitors can explore using their avatars. These are gold figures wearing flowy capes — both choices intended to avoid references to any body type, gender, race or age — and that are customizable through the color of the clothes and graphic symbols on the face.
At the moment, accessible pavilions in The Talent District include The Infopoint, collecting information on courses and study areas — which are exemplified by the sculptures of a needle with moving threads, a paint brush and a curved chair representing the fashion, art and design disciplines, respectively — and The Exhibition Pavilion showcasing virtual events and the work of the best students introduced by their own avatars.
The Theatre, housing lectures and talks; The Archive, collecting all past activities and projects, and The Partners’ House displaying projects created by students for partner companies will be rolled out in upcoming months.
“This is a project meant to be expanded time after time, with more buildings and activities,”Stefania Valenti confirmed, managing director of Istituto marangoni. “We called it ‘district’ to telegraph this idea and as a nod to Made in Italy, which has always been based on the excellence of different districts.”
Valenti stated that the same attention was paid by Valenti to local companies in selecting the tech partners for the metaverse development project. The university was primarily associated with IGoodi, an Italian realistic avatar maker; Monogrid, a digital and mixed reality creative studio based in Florence, and AnotheReality, a Milanese start up that specializes in immersive extended reality solutions like AR and VR.
“They are all young, fast and competent. We developed the whole platform in three months,” said Valenti, explaining that the school first got in touch with these firms to implement projects as part of its design master’s degree courses.
The peak of the school’s metaverse experience is The Exhibition Pavilion, which grants access to different rooms resembling lunar caves according to the university’s disciplines. Each room showcases realistic avatars of the best students, which were created thanks to IGoodi’s 4D body scanning.
“It’s nice to have students themselves introducing their work,” said Valenti, showing a demo of a realistic representation of a student — voice included — explaining her final project, while a side board with information on her profile, description of her work as well as additional project assets appears on the screen. A link redirecting visitors to the email address of the school’s career service is also included with the aim of further prompting collaboration opportunities for students.
“We have started by showcasing our best talents but the goal is to extend these tools to every student and welcome all campuses of the group,”Valenti defined the virtual space as “a new forum, a meeting point for our community on a global scale.”
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So far, The Exhibition Pavilion has displayed the best works of the design course as well as livestreaming the Florence campus’ fashion show earlier this month.
The heavy lift is scheduled for October, when Istituto Marangoni is planning to showcase its best students’ fashion show IRL in Dubai and simultaneously in the metaverse through a 3D catwalk and realistic avatars of each model and look.
At the same time, Istituto Marangoni will also launch its new master’s degree course in “digital design for immersive experiences” to answer to the industry’s increasing demand for professionals figures equipped with advanced digital and tech tools and a gamification vision. Monogrid’s creative director Francesco Bernabei and artist and sound designer Chiara Luzzana will be the mentors of the program.
The Talent District was founded three years ago by Valenti, who recalled that projects on VR/AR were included in product, interior, and visual design courses.
Students were encouraged to rethink spaces. Not only in physical terms. Standout projects included the design of NFTs in collaboration with Trussardi Casa and furniture company Cappellini.
Valenti also mentioned students Cecilia Monteleone, Manami Galliker, as prime examples of those who inspired the school’s deep dive into the metaverse. The former used AR to reinterpret Alessi products and the latter created Hana, a 3D environment that resembles a whimsical garden. Both were aiming to raise awareness about digital wellbeing. To wit, Galliker’s game app has been created to offer a relaxing space during the pandemic also through a guided meditation coach and relaxing sound mixer, in addition to the digital garden that can be experienced through VR.
“The pandemic offered opportunities to experiment,” Valenti said. The metaverse project’s main goal is to continue to build on this laboratory “offering a new space for research.”
“Maybe one day it could also become the school of the future, who knows? Who said we can’t host courses there or have shared mentors across all our schools? It could become a learning space with a different experience. Or we could host brands that want to stage a fashion show in the metaverse. This is a work-in-progress project,” Valenti said. “There’s not an immediate return on investment, but it will bring value to the group and to the whole fashion and design systems.”
Galileo Global Education Italia is the Italian branch of GGE, an international private higher education company. It was founded in 1935. Franco Moschino and Domenico Dolce are among the many notable alumni.
Private schools operating in the fashion, art and design fields under GGE Italia’s umbrella also include Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti — better known as NABA — and Domus Academy.