Wednesday, November 7, 2012

4 questions with Gianluca Santosuosso

We talked to Gianluca, runner-up of Radical Innovation 2012, about the ideological seeds of MORPHotel and what Radical Innovation means to him...

What first inspired you to create this unique project? Walk us through your thought processes.

The MORPHotel project was born during my Masters in Advanced Architecture at Institute of Advanced Architecture (IAAC) at Catalonia in 2010 with Professor Willy Mulle. The task was to imagine a new luxury hotel concept and the first question was: “What is luxury to you?”
To me, luxury means time. It means being free to get lost in places you didn’t even know existed. So the first key word was “time” and the second was “getting lost”.

I got the inspiration to start my concept from a famous movie sentence by captain Hector Barbossa in Pirates of Caribbean: “Aye...we're good and lost now. For sure, you have to be lost to find a place that can't be found, otherwise everyone would know where it was.”
From that principal, the concept of MORPHotel was founded: a huge, self-sufficient, artificial organism traveling slowly in the ocean, giving guests the possibility of enjoying what I call “space-in-between.”

I'm a big fan of the “tourizen” concept. MORPHotel is the perfect solution to tourists like me who love to cruise yet spend more time on shore fully embracing the destination cities. How are you going to convince the millennial generation who value speed and fast transportation more?

The first idea of the “tourizen” came from my teachers at IAAC. They asked us to imagine who would be the tourist of the future and, at the same time, how the definition of the tourist can be mixed with the category of people living in the city – the citizen.

In my opinion, to be really radical and even challenge the definition of radical, we need to imagine a new generation of mankind where man is radically changing his habits and ways of looking at vacations, tourism and the planet. Of course, you can start to imagine something like this when you think about an extra-luxury hotel where customers pay for an experience that is new, innovative and radical. But this example is just the beginning.

I am Italian. Even though my country is in a bad economic situation now, there are new companies growing on the premise of “fast doesn’t always mean better”. And they are growing much faster than traditional companies. My favorite example is Slow Food, an organization that supports the 0-km-food philosophy and promotes a chain of supermarket-restaurants called Eataly where all the products are organic and of high quality. It started in Italy and successfully branched out to the rest of the world. So, I believe that people’s mindsets are changing. More people feel the need to reduce the speed of life to understand what is happening around them better. This is about food, about life and also about traveling.

MORPHotel is not a system of transportation as a cruise ship is but more like an artificial island, or a simple hotel, where you can choose to stay for however long you wish to. The hotel has two purposes: firstly, to be an independent and self-sufficient structure floating around the world and secondly, to be an extension of a city where it stops at to allow the tourists to mix and mingle with the citizens.

Do you think this project can be realized in the near future? What barriers would you need to break through to make it happen?

Of course the concept needs a lot of more studying and research, but I am sure that (maybe in another shape or form) it can be realized in the near future.

I always think you have to see a complex problem as a combination of smaller problems that are easier to solve. I believe that if you decompose MORPHotel into small parts, you will understand that each of these parts already exists and MORPHotel’s primary role is to piece all these parts together.

How did Radical Innovation help you develop your ideas? What does Radical Innovation mean to you?

First of all, presenting in front of the jury and audience at the Radical innovation conference in Las Vegas last May was very important to me because I received important suggestions and critics from experts in the hospitality industry. Then being one of the best projects selected for the 2012 award gave me further confirmation that the MORPHotel project is possible and that maybe some developers would be interested in investing in my concept in the future. And finally, of course, the visibility on different kinds of media (magazines, web, etc.) is an important component of this award.

To me, the only reason why you might think that a radical innovation is impossible is because you are seeing it for the first time. Since the idea is radically new, your doubt of its feasibility is a natural reaction. But the beauty of radical innovations is the attempt to solve a problem for the first time, providing an answer to something that has never been addressed before. 

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