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How to save literature by leveraging the power of creativity


How to save literature by leveraging the power of creativity

I would have told you, Francesco Leuce and Vittorio Albano

Being sustainable and being creative are words that pair up easily together. In this article, art regenerates and reinvents itself through the effort of a young group of Italian designers.

Words By Alice Cavicchia


I would have told you,by Francesco Leuce and Vittorio Albano

The City of Venice. Romantic and timeless, the Venitian Lagoon dates back to the 8th Century AD, where it soon became a crucial cultural junction in between the East and the West of Ancient Eurasia. La Serenissima, or “the most serene”, as Venice was historically nicknamed, reached the apex of its magnificence during the 13th century AD. In its prime years, work of arts, precious gems and priceless woven materials poured through the city. Looking further ahead and to just last November (2019), we now see how these flowing treasures are more often the flooded waters of the famous canals, bursting into the Venetian libraries, where our story begins.

When the Acqua Alta (the high tide) comes in, the inhabitants of Venice know well they can do nothing against the puissance of nature. Thus, they pull on their best rain boots and hope their apartments and daily lives are not destroyed by extreme weather. Even if projects like the Experimental Electromechanical MOdule (MOSE), an on-demand set of dykes for enabling city protection from floods, are in an advanced phase, the city is yet not protected by such weather events.

One of the main victims of the November Flood was the historical Venetian libraries. “I could not believe the videos that were going viral everywhere on Social Media”, told us Maria Vittoria Miccoli Minarelli, the mind behind the @AssociazioneControCorrente (check them out on Instagram!)

“As a literature lover, I decided I could not hold back. It all started as an unpretentious initiative to give back and it later became a way to help cultural reconstruction and safeguarding of cultural heritage.”

Reading Lamp, by Bob Liuzzo

Bella, by Siena Hilt

On a Saturday morning, Maria Vittoria, along with her friends Ambre Carladous and Anna Carrera, all students at the European Institute of Design (IED) at the third year of Graphic Design, had the sudden stroke of genius: to save the irretrievably damaged books from the pulping mill and to reinvent them in something new: vibrant, innovative and ultra-modern work of arts.

“The greatest challenge that we encountered was the logistic management on the transportation side”, said Maria Vittoria. Indeed, the young designers travelled themselves from Milan to Venice during the flood, and agreed with the owner of the “High Water Library” (ndr. If you may grasp the irony of the name) to receive 500 irretrievably damaged volumes for a small contribution.

“We walked into the library and filled up an infinite number of boxes, water was still very high and the day seemed to be never ending”. A van was used to transport the books directly to IED in Milan, where the school granted space for book depository. “We called upon artists and creatives. It was amazing seeing each single book being hand-picked and adopted by these brilliant and artsy humans. Both students and professors participated”. Through a partnership with the Art Gallery of Palazzo Vizzani (Bologna), seat of the Alchemilla Association, an additional 150 volumes were shipped to artists of the Emilian county town.

Foxil Archipelago Installations in Cortina D’Ampezzo (BL), Italy

From the craftsmanship and expertise of the people involved, a large variety of works came to life: small paper sculptures, illustrations, or combinations of graphic arts, illustration and sculpture altogether. The Covid-19 emergency stopped the planned exhibition and direct sale at the prestigious Bocca Library of Milan, but all of the pieces were auctioned on 32Auctions ( , raising almost €10,000 which were devolved to the Querini Stampalia Foundation, a real pantheon of literature with more than 150 years of past history, which had suffered serious damages from the flood.

“Sustainability was not what drove our initiative in the beginning, but themes such as circularity and recyclement later became the real essence of our project” said Maria Vittoria when asked about the deep social consciousness that we can clearly see emerging through the pages of her restored books. “As a young student, I would have never imagined the positive impact that a single thought could inspire. The greatest part of the process was hearing so many people being enthusiastic about being capable of investigating their inner creativity in a philanthropic and mindful context”.

Wrapping up, we asked Maria Vittoria what’s up next? “Well, @associazionecontrocorrente, will soon introduce the Foxil Archipelago, which will consist of a set of installations thought to harmoniously compliment the Cortina D’Ampezzo Dolomites. The artworks will accompany the visitors on a voyage at the discovery of the beauty of Pian de ra Spires and Gores de Federa. Hopefully we will continue to produce sustainable art while promoting our beloved country: Italy”.