The northern Italian city of Torino is closely tied to the production of FIAT cars, and is also home to Lancia. Given how well the car industry has been doing lately, you might expect Torino to be a sad post-industrial town, but it has done a remarkable job of promoting culture, film and entrepreneurship, making it rather more attractive and liveable than it was twenty years ago. One of the most exciting places to be in Torino is Toolbox, a co-working space that is also host to FabLab Torino and Officine Arduino.

On April 6, 2013, Toolbox will be celebrating its third birthday with the day-long Toolbox Festival that celebrates its three main values: sharing, startup, and makers. For the occasion, we visited the space and spoke with its founder, Aurelio Balestra. And on April 6th we’ll be returning to participate actively in the festival by giving a presentation as well as attending plenty more – we look forward to learning, photographing, and tweeting throughout the day.

Aurelio Balestra

In 2010, the term ‘co-working’ was relatively new in Italy. The Hub in Milan opened in March of that year, and just three weeks later, Torino followed. The large and luminous industrial space (1200 square meters of offices on the ground floor alone, and more space upstairs for a total of about 9000 square meters) is now home to more than 50 programmers, web marketing specialists, filmmakers, life coaches, photographers, translators, sports agents and more.

Toolbox was born of a misfortune that was turned into an opportunity. In 2008, Aurelio worked in the clothing industry in this very space. The company went out of business, leaving this huge space empty. With the help of a good architect and risking it all, he renovated the space and opened up Toolbox. In the first few months, the closed office spaces upstairs were easily rented out, but he alone sat in the large open space with 48 co-working desks.

Soon enough the model of co-working caught on, and now almost all those spots are full, plus there is a community of flex workers who come in to use the wifi and any desk they find in another large room. On a given day you’ll find co-workers at the coffee machines together, having a casual chat on the couches, or heading over to a meeting room with clients. Soon they’ll be building a welcoming new kitchen and shared eating space, since eating together is the focus of many formal events as well as casual encounters here. A sense of community is formed through regular ‘elevator pitch’ type events in which coworkers can get feedback from their peers, as well as numerous other events, from talks to coding workshops to hands-on fun.

Contributing to the hands-on aspect is the presence of FabLab Torino in the same building since February 2012 (they just had their first year birthday party). The space is shared with Officine Arduino, the home of the famous open-hardware chip. The fablab, with laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools, is open to the public daily from 4 to 8pm and hosts numerous workshops.

Toolbox Festival is going to be the event that beats all these events, the best workshop ever, the biggest lesson ever held. The dense program offers many exciting options for diverse publics, from the more geek to the simply curious. The only risk is wanting, but not being able, to attend them all! There will be intense half hour lessons from which the public will be able to take away concrete content, one-hour activities with numerous speakers, and 1.5 hour workshops, all very practical. When your head is spinning you can chill in the TEDx video room. And of course the whole thing is punctuated by moments of convivial eating.

We’ll be there to take away concrete tips, and will be live tweeting with the hashtag ##tlbxfest. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi!

Event Details:

Toolbox Festival
Saturday, April 6, 2013
10am to 10pm
Via Agostino da Montefeltro 2 / 10134 / Turin / Italy


Leave a reply