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The Istituto Marangoni Fashion School Steps Into the Metaverse – WWD

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MILAN — Istituto Marangoni has made its move into the metaverse.

After having launched campuses in Milan, Florence, Paris, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Miami and Dubai, the school has unveiled “The Talent District,” its metaverse space aimed at enhancing engagement with its Gen Z students and developing their digital skillsets as well as showcasing a selection of their projects, events, talks and collaborations with other companies in the fashion and design industries.

Boasting an intuitive user experience, the virtual space includes different areas that visitors can explore through their avatars. These are gold figures wearing flowy capes — both choices intended to avoid references to any body type, gender, race or age — and that are customizable through the color of the clothes and graphic symbols on the face.

At the moment, accessible pavilions in The Talent District include The Infopoint, collecting information on courses and study areas — which are exemplified by the sculptures of a needle with moving threads, a paint brush and a curved chair representing the fashion, art and design disciplines, respectively — and The Exhibition Pavilion showcasing virtual events and the work of the best students introduced by their own avatars.

The Theatre, housing lectures and talks; The Archive, collecting all past activities and projects, and The Partners’ House displaying projects created by students for partner companies will be rolled out in upcoming months.

“This is a project meant to be expanded time after time, with more buildings and activities,” confirmed Stefania Valenti, managing director of Istituto Marangoni. “We called it ‘district’ to telegraph this idea and as a nod to Made in Italy, which has always been based on the excellence of different districts.”

Valenti underscored that the same attention to local companies was given to selecting the tech partners to develop the metaverse project. The university mainly tied-up with Italian realistic avatar-maker IGoodi; Florence-based digital and mixed reality creative studio Monogrid, and Milanese start-up AnotheReality, which specializes in the development of immersive extended reality solutions, like AR and VR.

“They are all young, fast and competent. We developed the whole platform in three months,” said Valenti, explaining that the school first got in touch with these firms to implement projects as part of its design master’s degree courses.

A look inside The Exhibition Pavilion.

A look inside The Exhibition Pavilion.
Courtesy of Istituto Marangoni.

The peak of the school’s metaverse experience is The Exhibition Pavilion, which grants access to different rooms resembling lunar caves according to the university’s disciplines. Each room showcases realistic avatars of the best students, which were created thanks to IGoodi’s 4D body scanning.

“It’s nice to have students themselves introducing their work,” said Valenti, showing a demo of a realistic representation of a student — voice included — explaining her final project, while a side board with information on her profile, description of her work as well as additional project assets appears on the screen. A link redirecting visitors to the email address of the school’s career service is also included with the aim of further prompting collaboration opportunities for students.

“We have started by showcasing our best talents but the goal is to extend these tools to every student and welcome all campuses of the group,” said Valenti, defining the virtual space as “a new forum, a meeting point for our community on a global scale.”

Inside the design room at The Exhibition Pavilion.

Inside the design room at The Exhibition Pavilion.
Courtesy of Istituto Marangoni

So far, The Exhibition Pavilion has displayed the best works of the design course as well as livestreaming the Florence campus’ fashion show earlier this month.

The heavy lift is scheduled for October, when Istituto Marangoni is planning to showcase its best students’ fashion show IRL in Dubai and simultaneously in the metaverse through a 3D catwalk and realistic avatars of each model and look.

At the same time, Istituto Marangoni will also launch its new master’s degree course in “digital design for immersive experiences” to answer to the industry’s increasing demand for professionals figures equipped with advanced digital and tech tools and a gamification vision. Monogrid’s creative director Francesco Bernabei and artist and sound designer Chiara Luzzana will be the mentors of the program.

The inception of The Talent District dates back to three years ago, when projects on VR and AR were included in the programs of product, interior and visual design courses, recalled Valenti.

Key ideas sprouted as students were invited to rethink spaces, not only in physical terms, with standout projects including the design of NFTs developed in collaboration with furniture company Cappellini and with Trussardi Casa.

Valenti also cited students Cecilia Monteleone and Manami Galliker as prime examples who inspired the school to deep dive into the metaverse. The former reinterpreted iconic Alessi products in the digital realm through AR, while the latter launched Hana, a 3D world resembling a whimsical garden intended to shed a light on digital wellbeing. To wit, Galliker’s game app has been created to offer a relaxing space during the pandemic also through a guided meditation coach and relaxing sound mixer, in addition to the digital garden that can be experienced through VR.

Manami Galliker's avatar presenting the Hana project.

Manami Galliker’s avatar presenting the Hana project.
Courtesy of Istituto Marangoni

“The pandemic offered opportunities to experiment,” Valenti said. The metaverse project’s main goal is to continue to build on this laboratory “offering a new space for research.”

“Maybe one day it could also become the school of the future, who knows? Who said we can’t host courses there or have shared mentors across all our schools? It could become a learning space with a different experience. Or we could host brands that want to stage a fashion show in the metaverse. This is a work-in-progress project,” Valenti said. “There’s not an immediate return on investment, but it will bring value to the group and to the whole fashion and design systems.”

Founded in 1935, Istituto Marangoni is controlled by Galileo Global Education Italia, the Italian branch of the international private higher education company GGE. Well-known alumni of the school include Franco Moschino, Alessandro Sartori, Domenico Dolce, Paula Cademartori and Andrea Pompilio, among others.

Private schools operating in the fashion, art and design fields under GGE Italia’s umbrella also include Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti — better known as NABA — and Domus Academy.





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Where Does Education Fit in an Emerging Metaverse?

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Meta—the company formerly known as Facebook—is running a new TV ad showing a future in which college students slip on a lightweight VR headset to enter a lecture hall where a professor can toss 3D models of biological cells to students who can pull them apart to demonstrate some concept.

It’s the latest sign that Big Tech sees education as a key piece of the rush to build a metaverse, the immersive Internet of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality that so far is a disconnected mix of clunky tech gear and beta software platforms inspired by science fiction.

This technology raises lots of exciting possibilities and some tough challenges, for both K12 classrooms and college classrooms of the future. And to help us sort through this emerging space, we invited two guests to the podcast who have seen more of this VR space than most and are thinking through these issues.

Those guests are Greg Heiberger, associate dean of academics and student success at South Dakota State University and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and a co-author of a recent Brookings Institution policy brief about education in the metaverse with advice for Facebook and other tech giants on how to build a metaverse that is education friendly.

The session was recorded in front of a live audience at the ISTE Live edtech conference in New Orleans this week.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.



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What is the future of life in the metaverse?

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Online avatars are essentially anonymous, and there’s a real question as to whether a crime committed in a virtual world has consequences in the real world.



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KPMG enters the metaverse, invests $30M in Web3 employee training

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KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms in Canada and the United States, has revealed the opening of its first metaverse collaboration hub to help its employees and clients pursue growth opportunities in the digital era.

KPMG is entering the metaverse with a new collaboration hub that will connect employees, clients and others with Web3. The company is making a collective $30 million investment this year in Web3 experiences, with the metaverse hub as the “signature piece.”

According to a Tuesday report by Fortune, the hub will be focused on education, collaboration, training, events and workshops with Cliff Justice, KPMG U.S. leader of enterprise innovation claiming that it is presently being utilized for such things but that KPMG intends to hire people to build it and expand it over time.

The long-term objective for the company is to examine other potential metaverse use cases such as health care, consumer, retail, media and financial services.

Laura Newinski, deputy chair and chief operating officer at KPMG in the U.S., said:

“The metaverse is a market opportunity, a way to re-engage talent, and a path to connect people across the globe through a new collaborative experience.”

The companies will continue to explore possibilities in the crypto and Web 3.0 space, co-create new tools and solutions that provide critical insights, launch immersive learning and development platforms, recruit talent to contribute knowledge and help navigate the changing confluence of the physical and digital worlds, among other things, as part of its innovation strategy.

Related: Yahoo launching Metaverse events for Hong Kong residents under restrictions

The COVID-19 epidemic sparked people’s interest in the metaverse. There has been an increase in the desire for methods to make internet contact more lifelike as more individuals work and go to school online. JPMorgan, one of the biggest banks in the United States, made headlines earlier this year by publishing a paper suggesting metaverse technology was a “one trillion-dollar opportunity,” along with establishing its own virtual headquarters in the Decentraland (MANA) metaverse.