Architect, but even more passionate for architecture itself. And also for design, art, photography and technology. Marcella Pizzuto, from Palermo, is today the President of FabLab Palermo. She’s in charge of organizing the events and managing the whole association. She’s one of the few women that lead a FabLab and Sicilian Secrets interviewed her for you.
Robotics, 3D printing, coding are the bread and butter for whoever goes into FabLab Palermo. But what’s a FabLab? It’s a digital fabrication laboratory where thanks to some computerized machines it’s possible to create a large quantity of different objects.
Marcella Pizzuto, President of FabLab Palermo, shared with us some curiosities about this project made in Sicily.
Q: How did the idea of FabLab Palermo come about?
A: I’m an architect and my brother is as well. At the beginning we had an office together with another friend who told us about some other FabLabs. In the United States it’s something that has spread since the early 2000’s and step by step became popular all around the world. When we decided to found a branch in Palermo, in Italy it wasn’t new in general, but definitely was in Sicily. We introduced some 3D printers and other technologies because our goal was to change our job situation and do something innovative. A continuous evolution.
Q: Nowadays, what are your main activities?
A: First of all, I want to say that our office is inside a confiscated building previously owned by the mafia. We won a project that allowed us to get a very big space. Here we organize some courses, we have a room to teach how 3D printing works, laser cutting, 3D scanning, etc. In terms of education, FabLab Palermo designs some initiatives dedicated to schools, both for teachers and students, in addition to some collaborations with the university. Another peculiar activity is the repairing of damaged objects, a repair café like in other European cities where it’s possible to fix electrical appliances, parts of historical cars, etc. thanks to 3D printing. There’s been a great amount of attention towards environmental sustainability avoiding wastefulness.
Q: What’s a peculiarity of FabLab Palermo?
A: Something that makes us unique is to be very open and helpful. If anyone needs a consultation, doors are always open.
Q: How did Sicily and your being Sicilian influence this path?
A: Being friendly and open-minded is something that is universal among Sicilians. Moreover, even having some work-related difficulties pushed us toward the opening of our FabLab. Believe me, the main element is a lot of passion.
Q: In your opinion, is there a margin for organizations like this?
A: I think that our evolution was maybe a little bit slower compared to FabLabs in Milan, Rome, etc. In these recent years in Sicily we put a lot of effort to create awareness about us and about our innovative activities. When you are so unique, often it’s complicated to explain what you are doing. On our island there’s still a lot of available and fertile terrain, the margins to grow exist!
Q: Is the invitation to FabLab Palermo open even for those who are not 100% in the field?
A: Sure! It happens pretty often that some people that heard about us and come to visit. Once they see the machines at work, their eyes sparkle. In this way they really understand that we can make something they thought was impossible or that they never even took into consideration. Some of them tell us that this place gives them the opportunity to develop new professional ideas that can become real. See with your own eyes…it’s worth it.
Q: What’s the professional goal that makes you the most proud? What about future projects?
A: The result that makes us proudest is to now be a point of reference in Palermo and in Sicily, in addition to be considered high quality professionals. Some people came from all over Italy to take part in our courses, a huge step for us. If I look at the future, the project that for me is really important, is to make FabLab Palermo an official digital craftsmanship school.