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Make Faire Rome, Italy’s first Maker Faire, kicks off tomorrow. It’s a four-day celebration of making that’s attracted well over 200 makers from Italy and across Europe. The event is co-produced by  Asset-Camera and Tecnopolo in collaboration with Arduino. Arduino’s Massimo Banzi and journalist Riccardo Luna are helping to curate the event.

ritratto Lorenzo

Lorenzo Manella.

Science writer Lorenzo Manella is heading up communications for the fair. He’s gotten to know the makers who will be attending the event quite well. “I’ve sorted through 200 or more maker projects to dig out their very essence,” he says. “I have tasted their bits and now will know their atoms.”

On the eve of the fair I got Lorenzo to pause and answer a few questions about the big event.

How is the event being received in Rome?
The organizers did a great job in getting in touch with local makers, fabbers, and the whole maker landscape. Many of the participating projects come from Italy and it will be nice to let Italian people discover all of them. To be honest, I think people will love makers and fabbers from all over the world. People from Rome are curious and talkative: we noticed a good word of mouth between local communities and media, thus we expect around 20,000 visitors.

Tell me about the diversity of makers and their projects?
You can see almost every kind of idea at Maker Faire Rome. Beginning with open source 3D printers, you can meet dozens of makers and fabbers who love to create something beautiful with their own hands. Just around the corner you can find a young hardware start-up that offers laser cutting services and cool design solutions. You’ll see a dancing robot and stop in front of a fully customized and 3D printed superbike. It’s an ecosystem made of small and big businesses, inventors, DIY lovers, and skilled craftsmen. Ultimately, it’s about people.
Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.35.30 PM

Are there any projects that really caught your eye?
You should take a look at the Off Grid module just outside the main entrance and step inside to see the 3D printing exhibition – Simone Majocchi worked really hard on it and it’s worth a look. Then go down to  level one and meet the Maker Faire Fab Lab. You won’t believe to your eyes. Alessandro Ranellucci (Slic3r) and the other fabber guys put together an amazing working space. Just step in and get involved.

Is this an Italian event or more of a European event?
Maker Faire Rome hosts many Italian projects. Nevertheless, this event embraces all Europe. We have many fab labs participating and makers who speak a dozen different languages. Maybe more. When you put all these creative minds in one single place, you get an unforgettable blast. People will share ideas, strategize to create together and get great inspiration from each other’s works. We hope they will come back home and know they are part of a movement—a living and pulsing ecosystem.

What impact do you think the fair and the maker movement will have on Italy and Europe at large?
Maker Faire Rome will send people a clear message: “you can make it, too”. It sounds silly, but this is what we need right now. First of all, media will follow stories and highlight great ideas. Then, people will start asking for more and Italy should consider the idea of investing in digital fabrication in schools and universities. European institutions and funding programs will probably target this sector with part of their budgets.

Italy is know for its famous designs and designers. How does maker culture fit within that?
I think Italian designers and craftsmen are ready to join the maker culture. They have always been brilliant and creative people. They carry knowledge and techniques that fit within maker culture. Italian craftsmen and designers just need a triggering spark. They have been makers for 2,000 years.

Tell me about the partnership responsible for organizing the fair?
Arduino, World Wide Rome, Asset-Camera and Tecnopolo put together a great team with different backgrounds. Massimo Banzi and Riccardo Luna put the right energy in it and let the magic happen. To be honest it is not just a matter of pure magic. It’s hard work. I hope people will enjoy your visit and ask us for a second round.

For those who can’t attend, what’s the best way to follow the fair?
The opening conference “How to reMake the World” will be broadcast on live streaming from 10AM (CEST) on the Maker Faire Rome website. You can listen to Massimo Banzi, Dale Dougherty, Mark Frauenfelder and Bruce Sterling and many other speakers. Our social media team will post and tweet updates during the whole fair— Oct. 3-Oct. 6 @makerfairerome – hashtag: #makerfairerome. I’ll keep the website updated with photos, posts, videos and social feeds powered by SeeJay.

If you’re going to be in Rome get your tickets to the fair right here at 50 percent off.

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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