Graduation Ceremony: Fabio Novembre’s Speech to Our Graduates

27 July 2018

Architect and designer Fabio Novembre was the featured speaker at Domus Academy’s 2018 graduation ceremony. Below is the transcript of his speech.

The temporal scan of our life is characterized by thresholds that continually introduce different periods. During other times and in other cultures, the crossing of these thresholds implied initiatory rituals that could also be difficult to overcome.

The ferocious cruelty of some tribal rites is certainly not comparable to the sterile nature of the delivery of a diploma, but I honestly cannot decide for which of the two forms to opt.

Personally I think that marking the crossing of any threshold, heightening the degree of memorization, is part of the growth ritual you are experiencing.

And if I had been asked to do it, I’d be curious to deal with the topic from a design point.

The fact is that you are here, clearly on the threshold that theoretically divides study from work.

And I do not wish to disappoint you, but let me say that this threshold is absolutely theoretical.

Fortunately we never stop studying, and what people call work is nothing else but the practical application of what we theorize—so a wonderful satisfaction.

Until today, studying was your only urgency. From tomorrow, many other fronts will open up—but this is part of your physical growth, of your acquired ability to take charge of greater responsibilities.

Of the time spent in this school, it will be the moments spent together that will be the most pertinent. A great school is judged by the people who animate it, not from the walls that contain it.

But what interests me and what you have to look at is what has happened to date: who were you when you entered this school, and who did you become during your course of study?

Did you understand who you are? And above all, have you tried to imagine who would you like to be?

In a world like ours, your young age is often an alibi for postponing the big questions that will follow us for the rest of our lives: WHO AM I?

The real value of education in a liquid and interconnected world like ours should have little to do with knowledge and relate much more to awareness instead.

Contemporary culture puts us in a position to calibrate every freedom of the individual according to the social class and place of origin. All of this creates so many forms of inequality that it becomes difficult to trace everything back to the same human race.

Your task as designers will be: first of all to shorten distances, to increase empathy, and to resist the selfish temptations that lie behind every corner.

The job you have chosen is like a hug!

And perhaps it is a good initiatory rite for today: Embrace one another, bring your hearts closer, and if you concentrate on listening to them, it will be the same beat that gives you direction, a rhythm to your actions.

Love and compassion are words that will never be out of fashion.

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