Moleskine Detour: Sky High Creativity for Social Change

Against the stunning backdrop of the Manhattan skyline from One World Observatory, the Moleskine Foundation presents its groundbreaking installation: Detour. Featuring artists from across the globe, including several alumni of their educational programs, Detour pushes the boundaries of what notebooks can be used for through artistic exploration of sculpture, mixed media, and drawing.


On Wednesday evening, we had the chance to catch a preview of this incredible traveling exhibition, now in NYC after stops in Paris and Shanghi. Delicious passed apps were served alongside platterns of sparkling wine, as attendees took in the views and artwork.  We spoke with Moleskine CEO Daniela Riccardi, and Moleskine founder and Foundation CEO Maria Sebregondi about their relationships with the brand and purpose. 



Moleskine has fostered the creative spirit for so many years. How does this exhibit take that one step further?

Daniela: The collection of these amazing pieces of art is the best way to illustrate our mission, that it’s a tool to unleash the power of ideas and creativity. When you see what the artists, but also normal people, have been able to do inspired by Moleskine, you see the story of their life, the idea of their future. 

Maria: The collection here is one of the most important assets of the Moleskine Foundation. It’s unique because all the artists are donating their work, sharing the idea of a collective creative relay that is traveling the world, inspiring international minds and pioneers, and generating agency among young people. We have 70 notebooks displayed here, but the collection is 1000+ from the most important architects, musicians, artists, chefs… any kind of creators around the world, together with the artwork of the students from our workshops. Big artists are [showcased] together with young, emerging artists. Now the collection is in the highest location in the city.  


What does the Moleskine brand mean to you?

Daniela: Many things. First of all it’s an Italian brand, and I’m Italian. I worked many years abroad, but when I was offered this opportunity I was fascinated by the idea of trying to do something good for a brand that is an icon all over the world and that has inspired so many people. So it means a lot to drive this brand to an even brighter future. Part of that is to give the world the opportunity to learn more about Moleskine, many people think that Moleskine is just a notebook. Maria (the founder) told me that we tell people, “this is the book yet to be written.” It’s not only for designers and big artists, it’s the book of each of us – of empowerment and creativity for everyone. We also believe in creativity for social change… we work together with the foundation to promote this mission.

Why did you choose this venue, and what is the relationship between the brand and NYC?

Daniela: Of course the US in general is one of our biggest markets. This place (the One World Observatory) is an iconic place for an iconic brand. I wanted to bring the exhibit to the sky and to the stars, and I think closer than this is probably impossible. There are thousands of pieces in the collection, and this is only a fraction. 

What is the mission of the Moleskine Foundation?

Maria: Our mission is creativity for social change. We transfer the values that are at the base of Moleskine in a social domain in order to make creativity the driver of positive social change. We do this by creating unconventional educational formats for young talents, especially coming from underserved communities. Groups of 20-25 young people gather for a week of profound questioning, developing critical thinking, debating each other… At the end they create something representing the process of this workshop. One project is wikipedia articles on Africa. Africa currently has fewer articles than the city of Paris, so we are developing moments and gathering people to write articles and stories and create a new narrative on the African continent, in native languages that are not represented online. 


Do you have a favorite piece in the collection shown today?

Maria: I have a lot, and I love them all. In this moment, I like the Leilah Babirye notebook. She’s here, and she started with us in a workshop in Uganda. She’s an activist in the LQBT+ community, and then she moved over to the US because of the hostile environment in her country.


A few of the artists attended the opening event. Brooklyn artist Leilah Babirye, Chinese artist and urban planning activist Ou Ning, Program Director of Lower East Side Girls Club Erikka James, industrial designer Scott Henderson, and NYC graffiti artist FAUST all attended the event showcasing their work. Here are some of our favorite pieces:

But these incredible pieces are only a fractionof the insight into moleskine’s versatility and the creativity of humanity showcased in the exhibit. For a trip to the skies of NYC and breathtaking art installations, learn more about Moleskine Detour New York here.


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