The third edition of Premio Stromboli took place earlier this month on Stromboli, the breathtaking volcanic island off the coast of Sicily. The exclusive off-the-grid digital arts festival cu is proving a real draw for luxury brands eager to tap into emerging cultural phenomena before they hit the mainstream.
Over the course of six days, the island is transformed into an hub of creativity with talks, performances, site-specific art installations and immersive multimedia experiences — all the time observing a zero impact approach to preserve the fragile nature of the environment.
Name of the game is to foster communication in the digital domain, champion art in all its diverse forms, explore cutting-edge technologies such as Web3, and advocate for a culture focused on energy efficiency and sustainability.
The festival also hosts the Stromboli Award that celebrates visionaries across emerging digital arts and culture.
Stefano Rosso, Chairman of Maison Margiela and CEO of BVX (metaverse arm of Margiela’ OTB Group parent) won the award’s Web3 and metaverse category last year for a campaign by D-CAVE, the digital studio he founded in 2020.
The project, in partnership with watch brand Bulova involved physical watches sold both by standard Web2 practice and via a redeemable NFT. They also created wearables for Decentraland.
As such, it fell to Rosso to propose the category’s 2023 winner and he selected Marjorie Hernandez, co-founder of Web3 fashion e-commerce platform Dematerialized, for her work around digital collectables. “She’s a real pioneer and one of most advanced people in space,” Rosso told Forbes.“Web3 and digital fashion are sustainable by definition,” he added.
“It was an amazing opportunity to interact with creators across the spectrum,” Hernandez said of the experience. “Under the watchful eye of an active volcano on this magical island you are confronted by nature at its rawest which is a powerful reminder about our planet how fragile it is and how we need to work together to preserve our planet and global community.”
Hernandez is also co-founder of Lukso blockchain, a new protocol dedicated to luxury goods and creators which, according to Rosso is more sustainable and seamless than existing models.
Of the resonance of the wider cultural scene for the luxury industry, Rosso is bullish. “It’s fundamental as brands are not only about product. They must stand for something and mean something.”
Web3 will change the way they interact with people, he said. “Today, as much as they want to be connected, they are still quite detached from the final consumer.”
“Sharing and co-creation will change the way they can work with their fanbase. It makes brands more aware of who their consumers are and what they want. Web3 is the right space to accelerate this dialogue.”
Together with AURA Blockchain Consortium, Rosso, who sits on the board, introduced on-chain certificates of authenticity and traceability earlier this year at Margiela. These are accessible via near field technology (NFC) chips embedded into the brand’s Tabi footwear.
He told Forbes that in coming months, he is enlarging the initiative to include all leather goods and accessories at OTB luxury brands like Marni and Jil Sander.
“Every cultural movement starts at the edge” added Sean Pattwell, founder of strategic communications firm CW8. “Web3 can be an echo chamber but Stromboli is a great opportunity for exchanges with creatives across all disciplines.” CW8 advises a number of leading fashion and luxury brands across Web3, sustainability and emerging technology.
To keep the island’s ecosystem in check, capacity is limited to around 500 people so unlike Burning Man, there’s no danger of Premio Stromboli’s becoming commercialized. Which is part of the value, says Rosso. “Because it’s a closed environment, networking and bonding get very strong.”
According to Rosso, the objective is to become one of the world’s most relevant festivals around arts and sustainability —“a think tank for art digi culture and sustainability”— while retaining this niche dynamic.