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cityofsound: Essay: 'Designing Finnishness', for 'Out Of The Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design' (Gestalten)
"Knowing what to do when there is nothing to do
"The press conference is over, and in comes Jari Litmanen, from behind the door. And I looked at his face and I looked at his eyes, and I recognised something in those eyes. And I thought, this is a man with a great willpower. Because he was not shy, not timid, but he was modest. He is not a man who will raise his voice, or bang with his fist on the table and say, ‘We do it this way.’ No, he was more of a diplomat, not wanting to be a leader, but being a leader." [Former AFC Ajax team manager David Endt, on legendary Finnish footballer Jari Litmanen]

Finland has proven that it can take care of itself locally and globally. At home, its sheer existence is a tribute to fortitude, guile and determination, never mind the extent to which it has lately thrived. Globally, through Nokia, Kone, Rovio and others, through its diplomatic and political leadership, and through its design scene in general, it has punched well above its weight. Having been a reluctant leader, like Litmanen, will Finland once again step up to help define a new age, a post-industrial or re-industrial age? Unlike 1917, there are few obvious external drivers to force Finns to define Finnishness. So where will the desire for change come from?

Finland, and Finnishness, is not immune to the problems facing other European countries; the Eurocrisis, domestic xenophobia, industrial strife. Challenging these is difficult for an engineering culture not yet used to working with uncertainty, and in collaboration.

That requires this sense of openness to ambiguity, to non-planning, which is quite unlike the traditional mode of Finnishness. And yet there are also valuable cues in Finnishness, such as in the design—or undesign, as Leonard Koren would have it—of Finnish sauna culture.
"Making nature really means letting nature happen, since nature, the ultimate master of interactive complexity, is organized along principles too inscrutable for us to make from scratch. … Extraordinary baths … are created by natural geologic processes or by composers of sensory stimulation working in an intuitive, poetic, open-minded—undesign—manner." (Koren, ibid.)

Equally, the päiväkoti day-care system demonstrates a learning environment built with an agile structure that can follow where children wish to lead. The role of expertise—and every teacher in Finnish education is a highly-qualified expert—is not to control or enforce a national curriculum, but to react, shape, nurture and inspire. As such it could be a blueprint not only for education generally, but also for developing a culture comfortable with divergent learning, with exploration and experiment, with a broader social and emotional range, and with ambiguity.

Chess grandmaster Savielly Tartakower once said “Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do, strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” Indeed, Finland's early development was driven by tactics—survival, consolidation and then growth in the face of a clear set of "things to do"; defeat the conditions, resist the neighbours, rebuild after war.

With that, came success, comfort and then perhaps the inevitable lack of drive. The country is relatively well off and stable, and perhaps a little complacent given the recent accolades.

Design in recent years has seen a shift towards the ephemeral and social—interaction design, service design, user experience design, strategic design and so on. Conversely, there has been a return to the physical, albeit altered and transformed by that new modernity, with that possibility of newly hybrid “things”: digital/physical hybrids possessing a familiar materiality yet allied with responsiveness, awareness, and character by virtue of having the internet embedded within. With its strong technical research sector, and expertise in both materials and software, Finland is well-placed. Connect the power of its nascent nanotech research sector—interestingly, derived from its expertise with wood—to a richer Finnish design culture capable of sketching social objects, social services and social spaces and its potential becomes tangible, just as with the 1930s modernism that fused the science and engineering of the day with design in order to produce Artek.

Finnish design could be stretched to encompass these new directions, the aforementioned reversals towards openness, ambiguity, sociality, flexibility and softness. Given that unique DNA of Finnishness — both designed and undesigned, both old and young—Finland is at an interesting juncture.

The next phase, then, is knowing what to do, despite the appearance of not having anything to do.

Buckminster Fuller, a guest at Sitra's first design-led event at Helsinki’s Suomenlinna island fortress in 1968, once said “the best way to predict the future is to design it.” Finland has done this once before; it may be that now is exactly the right time to do it again."
finland  2014  design  danhill  cityofsound  sitra  buckminsterfuller  education  strategy  culture  exploration  experimentation  ambiguity  emergentcurriculumeurope  undesign  leonardkoren  nature  complexity  simplicity  davidendt  jarilitmanen  unproduct  efficiency  inefficiency  clarity  purity  small  slow  sisu  solitude  silence  barnraising  helsinki 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Rory Hyde Projects / Blog » Blog Archive » Potential Futures for Design Practice
"Here follows a brief survey of these new roles for designers, each representing potential futures for design practice.

The Community Enabler

The healthy boom of the past two decades has led the architect to become accustomed to producing boutique solutions for private clients; a comfortable scenario that has distracted us from our responsibility for society at large. By reconceiving the role of the architect not as a designer of buildings, but as a custodian of the built environment, the space of opportunity and tools at our disposal are vastly expanded.

The Renew Newcastle project, established and led by Marcus Westbury, illustrates the value of people in the improvement of a public space. While millions had been spent by local government on rebuilding the physical aspects of Newcastle’s rundown and largely deserted Hunter St mall, the simple gesture of opening up vacant spaces for use by creative practitioners and businesses has kick-started its revival. [5]

The Visionary Pragmatist

The stereotype of the architect as an obsessive, black skivvy-wearing aesthete who produces detailed artefacts of beauty is a pervasive one that may sometimes live up to the truth. This is a potentially dangerous perception however, as it promotes our interest in form over our value as strategic thinkers. By promoting our capacity to challenge the underlying assumptions of a problem and to develop responses informed by a larger context, we can hope to be invited into projects at an earlier, more decisive stage, and not as mere cake-decorators.

Chilean practice Elemental, led by Alejandro Aravena, views the larger contexts of policy, financing and social mobility as equally important territories for the architect to understand and engage. The multi-unit housing project in Iquique proposed a unique solution to the issue of the limited funding allocated per unit of social housing. By providing ‘half of a good house’ [6], and configuring it in a way that enabled future expansion, the residents can create housing of real personal value and utility.

The Trans-Disciplinary Integrator

The complex, manifold and integrated issues of today cannot be solved by architecture alone. To be truly instrumental, we need to open ourselves to new constructive alliances with thinkers and makers from beyond our discipline.

RMIT’s Design Research Institute, established in 2008 by Professor Mark Burry, is a research centre directed toward collaboration and information sharing between students and professionals from over 30 disciplinary backgrounds. By harnessing collective expertise, the DRI is able to address major social and environmental dilemmas that do not conform to the traditional boundaries of design training. [7]

By transcending our own expectations and limits, we can in turn recast society’s expectations of what we are capable of addressing.

The Social Entrepreneur

The economic crisis has been heralded as the end of architecture’s ‘obsession with the image’. What this hope overlooks however, is the powerful narrative potential of architectural communication in catalysing complex visions for the future. Deploying this power to address social aims allows architects to contribute meaningfully to the future of the city by posing the critical question: ‘what if?’

PLOT’s (now BIG and JDS) scheme for the Klovermarken park was developed in response to Copenhagen’s acute housing shortage. Through a media campaign which promoted their solution to provide 3000 units within in a perimeter block without sacrificing a single sporting field, PLOT were able to generate significant public interest in the project, which led to the government holding a competition for the site. Although PLOT did not win the commission, the project is proceeding nonetheless, providing much-needed housing to the inner city, and demonstrating the value of practical vision. [8] (I’ve discussed this project before in an earlier post on Unsolicited Architecture.)

The Practicing Researcher

Architecture’s current model of charging as a percentage of the construction cost does little to justify the thinking and intelligence that is embedded in the process. The inability to distinguish our conceptual value from our production-focused value that this model implies also means we are not natural candidates for projects that require the approach of an architect, but that may not result in a building.

AMO, the think tank of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, was established precisely to focus on this type of work, by applying ‘architectural thinking in its pure form to questions of organisation, identity, culture and program’. [9] The project Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, delivers on its title with a radical scheme of integrated green power generation stretching from North Africa to Norway. By not being constrained to any particular building commission, this research can operate at a scale that holds the potential for real global impact. (I have discussed this project further in an earlier post Whole Earth Rise.)

The Long-Term Strategist

While form is an important aspect of the architect’s repertoire, it is now just one of a larger set of tools directed at achieving results. The challenge of environmental sustainability has brought with it the necessary obligation that buildings perform as designed, and can adapt throughout their life to meet changing demands and targets. We can no longer simply design the object, but must also design the strategy of implementation and long-term evaluation as part of our responsibilities.

The Low2No competition organised by the Finnish innovation fund Sitra made these long-term strategies a central requirement of the design brief. [10] With the ambitious aim of producing an urban development solution in Helsinki that would over time be carbon negative, the teams were asked not only to produce an architectural vision, but a future strategy for delivering these environmental results. By looking beyond the immediate horizon of project completions, the strategist takes on a greater responsibility and interest in a successful outcome.

The Design Management Thinker

One of the current buzzwords in the design world at the moment is ‘design thinking’. Although it has many definitions, one interpretation is of the application of a design approach to problems in fields outside of design, such as business and management. [11] This is heralded as a potential means for designers to expand their reach and to reclaim their instrumentality and relevance to other disciplines.

However, we are also witnessing the rise of its inverse; a more threatening scenario whereby management consultants occupy the territory traditionally held by architects. As the role of cities in the globalised world evolves from simply being designed to deliver quality of life, to being speculative instruments of investment, governments are increasingly turning to financial and management consultants for advice instead of urbanists or architects. This is particularly true in the Gulf region of the Middle East, where McKinsey & Company has produced the Vision 2030 plan for Bahrain, and have reportedly also been developing the plans for Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities. [12] This potential future should be treated by architects as both a warning and an opportunity for coalition.

The Unsolicited Architect

The potential for architects to address the challenges of the future are limited by our reactive model of commissioning. In a concept outlined by Volume magazine in the issue of the same name, unsolicited architects create their own briefs, identify their own sites, approach their own clients and find their own financing. This requires a more entrepreneurial mindset, as the tools of architecture and architectural thinking are only powerful if they can be unshackled from the constraints of a given brief.

Faced with the planned demolition of the building where they have their offices to make way for encroaching gentrification, landscape architects ZUS created ‘De Dépendance’, a counter proposal to reuse the building as a centre for urban culture and a hub for like-minded institutions and businesses. [13] With support from the municipality and media exposure, they were able to turn around the developer, who now supports their proposal. By developing a viable alternative, instead of merely protesting, ZUS were able to steer the project to an outcome that is both equitable and beneficial for all parties."
architecture  design  future  practice  2014  roryhyde  marcuswestbury  elemental  alejandroaravena  transdisciplinary  markburry  klovermarken  big  jds  plot  amo  oma  low2no  sitra  strategy  via:ablerism 
february 2014 by robertogreco
In Studio - Helsinki Design Lab
"This book explores the HDL Studio Model, a unique way of bringing together the right people, a carefully framed problem, a supportive place, and an open-ended process to craft an integrated vision and sketch the pathway towards strategic improvement. It's particularly geared towards problems that have no single owner.

It includes an introduction to Strategic Design, a "how-to" manual for organizing Studios, and three practical examples of what an HDL Studio looks like in action. Geoff Mulgan, CEO of NESTA, has written the foreword and Mikko Kosonen, President of Sitra, contributed the afterword."
helsinkidesignlab  change  systemsthinking  books  thinking  design  community  sitra 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Labs: Designing the future -MaRS News & Insights | MaRS
"In the spirit of a creative, open innovation system, the Lab is a structure that not only thinks, but also does. Traditionally a place for scientists to test hypotheses that lead to potential breakthroughs, the Lab has been re-purposed to address elusive “wicked problems” in society. In this version (sometimes called the innovation, design or change Lab), substitute the scientific method with design thinking as the rigorous and repeatable protocol; swap beakers and Bunsen burners for sticky notes and white boards; and shift from single expertise to multifaceted expertise (usually representing a combination of business, design and humanities – in MaRS’ case, add science & tech as well as entrepreneurs of all sorts).

In these Labs, teams are experimenting with alternative solutions to real-world challenges such as water sanitization, carbon neutrality and age-friendly societies. And just like scientific breakthroughs, when these solutions succeed, they are game changing."
lcproject  openstudioproject  2012  lisatorjman  timbrown  mindlab  inwithfor  australiancenterforsocialinnovation  agelab  slowlab  sitra  businessinnovationfactory  ideo.org  ideo  harvardilab  mitmedialab  medialab  helsinkidesignlab  nearfuturelaboratory  d.school  innovation  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  laboratories  labs 
november 2012 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: Fabrica
"a type of school, or studio, or commercial practice, or research centre. Fabrica, hovering between all these things yet resisting the urge to fall into becoming any one of them, is perhaps genuinely without parallel. This makes it a little tricky to explain, but this ability to avoid pigeonholes is also to its credit."

"hybrid organisation—part communications research centre…but also part arts and design school, part think-thank, part studio. My kind of place."

"While I might occasionally characterise Fabrica as the pugnacious upstart, or startup, whose agility might challenge the established institutions, it’s clear we also have a lot to learn from the likes of the exemplary creative centres like the RCA, and from Paul in particular. His experience across the Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt and the RCA will be invaluable, and he’s beginning to draw together a great advisory board. Watch that space. I’m also exploring various newer models for learning environments, from Strelka and CIID to MIT Media Lab and School of Everything, alongside the centres of excellence like the RCA and others. My father and mother, more of an influence on me than perhaps even they realise, were both educators and learning environments and cultures may well be in my DNA, to some degree."

"…the other idea that I’m incredibly interested in pursuing at Fabrica is that of the trandisciplinary studio."

"With this stew of perspectives at hand, we might find project teams that contain graphic designers, industrial designers, neuroscientists, coders, filmmakers, for instance. Or product design, data viz, sociology, photography, economics, architecture and interaction design, for instance. These small project teams are then extremely well-equipped to tackle the kind of complex, interdependent challenges we face today, and tomorrow. We know that new knowledge and new practice—new ideas and new solutions—emerges through the collision of disciplines, at the edges of things, when we’re out of our comfort zone. Joi Ito, at the MIT Media Lab, calls this approach “anti-disciplinary”."

"And living in Treviso, a medieval walled Middle European city, our new home gives me another urban form to explore, after living in the Modern-era Social Democratic Nordic City of Helsinki, the Post-Colonial proto-Austral-Asian Sprawl of Sydney, the contemporary globalised city-state of London, and the revolutionary industrial, and then post-industrial, cities of the north of England."
1994  australia  uk  finland  venice  helsinki  london  sydney  domus  josephgrima  danielhirschmann  bethanykoby  technologywillsaveus  tadaoando  alessandrobenetton  rca  schoolofeverything  strelkainstitute  joiito  medialab  mitmedialab  ciid  paulthompson  nontechnology  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  marcosteinberg  jocelynebourgon  culturalconsumption  culturalproduction  code  darkmatter  fabricafeatures  livewindows  colors  andycameron  richardbarbrook  californianideology  discourse  sitra  italy  treviso  helsinkidesignlab  benetton  culture  culturaldiversity  socialdiversity  diversity  decisionmaking  sharedvalue  economics  obesity  healthcare  demographics  climatechange  research  art  design  studios  lcproject  learning  education  2012  antidisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cityofsound  danhill 
november 2012 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Sketchbook: Print-on-demand work-in-progress
"The fact that things could be emailed, which is a prerequisite, also meant they were too easy to ignore. By making something easy to disseminate via email, you were also placing it in a fast-flowing stream of other objects… 

We wanted to exploit the fertile middle ground of “work in progress” with something that was a little more engaging, that would pull focus onto the discussions at hand, yet not so over-produced that the thing couldn’t iterate or evolve. Something that could be thrown around in a workshop—literally!—accessed in linear or non-linear fashion, carry visual and textual information, carried on the person, or remain guiltily within sight on someone’s desk. Something physical and digital' which might have an allure over simply digital, at least at the form of artifacts.

In other words, a small book. So a simple InDesign template later, and a not-quite-so-simple PDF upload a little later, a bunch of A5 books emerged via Lulu’s print-on-demand (POD) service."

[See also: http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org/blog/helsinki-street-eats-and-hacking-lulu ]
workinprogress  communication  email  oma  documentation  process  craigmod  printondemand  low2no  amazon  layout  jamesgoggiin  magcloud  dearlulu  helsinkidesignlab  sitra  newspaperclub  blurb  lulu  projectideas  glvo  books  indesign  pdf  printing  2012  selfpublishing  self-publishing  cityofsound  danhill  unbook 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Brickstarter
"Brickstarter is a 21st century social service. It enables everyday people, using everyday technology and culture, to articulate and progress sustainable ideas about their community. Brickstarter is a platform to turn possibilities into proposals into projects."

"The core of Brickstarter is a web service that provides a shared platform for citizens to suggest and build possibilities into proposals into projects. Brickstarter is a:

* Forum for citizens to articulate possibilities, and start aggregating attention
* Public story-telling platform, capturing the ebb and flow of debate around proposals
* Community fundraising tool for shared initiatives
* ‘Real-time dashboard‘ displaying the collective desires of a community that can be mapped against institutional strategies and legislative frameworks, enabling bureaucracy to work more effectively"
funding  fundraising  urbanism  urban  cities  yimby  nimby  crowdsourcing  crowdfunding  technology  sharing  platform  culture  sitra  danhill  brickstarter  community 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Low2No smart services workbook - Low2No
"This work often involves positioning these otherwise technology-led areas in a more human-centred, and behaviour-oriented, framework — getting well beyond the hype about "smart cities" — whilst also trying to connect it to business drivers (the lack of the latter has hampered pretty much any serious progress in smart cities.)

A particular approach has been a focus on active rather than passive citizens. Too often such technologies can suggest an automation of processes without thinking through the behavoiural implications."

"Note: these print-on-demand books are designed to be updated. This is actually version 2, as you will note. So it is explicitly "work in progress", and that should serve as a caveat. (This was the first time we'd tried this approach, which we took further with the Helsinki Street Eats book: here, and discussed here.)"
customerjourney  finland  helsinki  helsinkistreeteats  smartservices  howto  activecitizens  human-centered  urbanism  urban  smartcities  personalinformatics  low2no  deliverables  methods  methodology  unbook  2010  2012  danhill  sitra 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Low2No Blog - Low2No
"The Low2No project is designed to help transition our cities to a low carbon future. We aim to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in the built environment."
urban  society  ecology  economics  cities  low2no  justinwcook  bryanboyer  danhill  sitra  responsivespaces  green  design  architecture  urbanism  sustainability 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Walking tour of Helsinki's architecture | Travel | The Observer
"Design is to Helsinki as literature is to Dublin and samba is to Rio. It is simply a cultural manifestation of the national character, and Finns are sensible, detail-oriented people. Apart from the great Alvar Aalto, few Finnish designers or architects are widely known outside their own country. But to Finns themselves, designers such as Tapio Wirkkala and Ilmari Tapiovaara are household names. Their furniture from the 1940s and 1950s – once inexpensive, hard-wearing everyday items that now count as collectible classics – is still passed down from generation to generation.

Beyond simple, perfect objects, Finns have an innate sense of the role design can play in society. How many countries can you think of that make design a matter of government policy? Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, uses designers to address issues from sustainability to education. Let's just say they take their design pretty seriously."
artek  marimekko  cheltenham  bertramgoodhue  secondglances  stevenholl  jugend  walking  cities  worlddesigncapital  alvaraalto  architecture  2012  policy  sitra  design  finland  helsinki 
june 2012 by robertogreco
(Post)Material - Q&A
"(Post)Material is a three-day event that proposes questions and answers for contemporary design practice operating across the wildly varying dynamics of atoms, bits and ideas. Curated by Q&A;, a joint effort between four Helsinki-based design and research studios, and facilitated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the event brings together an assemblage of practitioners and academics in a daily talk show at WantedDesign, The Tunnel (11th ave b/w 27th & 28th) on May 19–21, 2.30 pm–4.00 pm every day.

“We tend to talk of the ‘information age’ without realizing that the future is as much about energy and materials as it is about information,” postulated Manuel De Landa in 1994. From design’s perspective, could this historical point in time—a resource-hungry industrial epoch rapidly nearing its expiry date—be defined as the ‘(post)material’ age?"
kokoro&moi  (Post)Material  materials  sustainability  information  volume  clog  teemusuviala  kylemay  roryhyde  okdo  jennasutela  kivisotamaa  cmmnwlth  zoecoombes  seungholee  dong-pingwong  colleenmacklin  finland  sitra  bryanboyer  prototo  marttikalliala  wevolve  villetikka  manueldelanda  designthinking  design  energy  postmaterial  nyc  2012  events  q&a 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Mr Cameron, it's time to get the designers in | Art and design | guardian.co.uk
"If a country has the best education system in the world, it could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. Yet Finland, which routinely tops the Pisa education rankings, refuses to do so. The country has other major issues on the agenda, such as how to become carbon neutral and how to look after the most rapidly ageing population in Europe. And when the nation wants to address these questions, it turns to Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Most governments have a cluster of thinktanks and policy groups at their disposal to tackle their country's challenges. But what's different about Sitra is that it uses designers.

Sitra's strategic design unit is made up of an international team with backgrounds in architecture and urban planning, web and interactive design, and they are used to thinking at varying scales – from the pixel to the city. "Strategic design" is still a nascent discipline but, put simply, it means applying a design method to a system, rather than an object."
danhill  sitra  design  finland  strategicdesign  policy  servicedesign  systemschange  systemicimagining  well-being  2011  bryanboyer  government  forwardlooking  forwardthinking 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Week 113 - Helsinki Design Lab
"If I had a time machine…could change one thing I would hop back to beginning of last week & remove all post-it notes from studio space…reason for this is simple: post-it notes trick people into being lazy.

…way post-it notes are commonly used in workshop settings is to capture an idea on portable piece of paper…can then be moved around at will & eventually accumulated on bigger piece of paper…rolled up & put into closet & kept forever. Ideas captured…

Post-it notes record ideas & allow them to be easily migrated & reorganized, but it's not a good medium for mutating & synthesizing ideas.

One of the reasons that we prefer large sheets of paper or whiteboards is that they encourage collaborative mutation. If you realize that something is drawn in wrong place, it must be erased & re-drawn or somehow altered to meet the new intent. By drawing & redrawing, writing & rewriting, opportunities to adjust the content & format—to literally re-present the ideas—continually emerge."
sitra  bryanboyer  helsinkidesignlab  post-its  whiteboards  process  recording  ideas  sharing  mobility  mutation  synthesis  howwework  classideas  2011  postits 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Education Studio (HDL) - Helsinki Design Lab
"HDL developed Studio on Education to think about future of education…

1. From equal access to edu to equal opportunity to develop ones’ talents & aspirations 2. From inherited Social Contract to a Social contract that includes voices of all stakeholders to create shared meaning 3. From current, institutional social welfare system to Social welfare system v 2.0 integrated w/ personal agency & empowerment 4. From administrative structures that are hierarchical & vertical to…inclusive, open & flexible 5. From schools as institutions for acquisition for academic skills to schools as agents of change that inspire & produce civic innovation, creativity, & holistic growth 6. From a strong focus on the normative to the inclusion of all members of society with different abilities and strengths 7. From learning for academic achievement to learning expertise for life 8. Open public discourse 9. Strengthen international networks and collaboration 10. New Suomi School for 21st Century"

[See also: http://helsinkidesignlab.org/dossiers/education/the-challenge AND http://helsinkidesignlab.org/blog/week-113 ]

[See also the Oivallus bookmarks: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/t:oivallus ]
finland  sitra  helsinki  helsinkidesignlab  education  deschooling  unschooling  casestudies  collaboration  networks  vocational  designthinking  lcproject  tcsnmy  holistic  holisticapproach  socialwelfare  hierarchy  access  equality  institutions  empowerment  agency  personalagency  change  gamechanging  civics  innovation  life  lifeskills  discourse  transparency  open  openschools  networkedlearning  relevance  oivallus 
june 2011 by robertogreco

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