Architecture and design touch on the big questions of life, these are our very interfaces to both nature and culture, to past, present and future: it’s about so much more than just aesthetics and commerce. My quest for new solutions to age old problems take me around the world to many of our times most acclaimed architects and designers. I started Calimero more than three decades ago, just back from Perugia where I had started a bar-restaurant together with some friends. Today I contribute as a critic, journalist, and photographer to newspapers, popular press, as well as specialized magazines in Sweden as well as abroad. I do also offer services like copywriting, exhibition curator, and lectures and teaching at architecture and design schools.
I got to admit, I didn’t really chose to be a critic, a journalist, a teacher, a lecturer. It just happened. After conceiving, opening and running that bar Terrazza Grimana down in Perugia, Italy, I actually did manage to become a millionaire before turning 25 (the Italians thankfully enough had the currency lire then to help me make an impression!). The quest to discover the world by meeting new people, travelling, reading became an obsession. So why not become a journalist? To engage and enrage, to share and absorb, to reach into other people’s souls as well as one’s own. One of the first strong impressions to set me on my career was the purchase in San Francisco 1981 of a book on Paolo Soleri’s sci-fi resembling architecture: imagine shrinking the world’s cities to a tenth of their size just be more economical and better organized (no wonder NASA studies his drawing of a spaceship in depth). When I many years later actually met with Soleri in Helsingfors, he was quite provoked by my questions of the societal implications of such highly integrated cities, he rebutted me by saying we were all doomed anyway and better used one of his giant space vessels to explore the universe instead. But I also started writing about architecture because my friends studying that very subject in the late ‘80s was, according to my layman views, terribly indoctrinated and stuck in high modernism. Not that kind of free flow experimental questioning the self, the life, the universe, the everything that inspired art in the early 20th century (which Zaha Hadid could go on for hours about), but the stolid, static, monumental, boring one of archive boxes, of perpendicularity, male abstract totalitarian linearity of white walls, of negative spaces so hard to fill. (yes, I loved that aesthetic, but it’s positivistic methods of negating everything that couldn’t be named, classified, ordered had common ground with some of the worst catastrophes of the 20th century). I toured the Western World interviewing the very best, or the upcoming to be the best, the ones exploring and perfecting the mainstream, the rebels, the outsiders, and the lovers of things to come, and yes, that was a continuation of this incessant want to always go elsewhere, to be seduced by the everyday of another reality, or of the science-fictional state of becoming something more than merely human bordering the post-anthropocene and the exploring of the universe.
My conviction, talking to architect and design stars, the past divas of Cinecittà, artists, and many others is a belief in free will. Even if hampered by Durkheimian anomie, you have the possibility to become what you believe, life as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or do just go along with that shakespearean notion of the world as a stage where you are an actor and life is a play, a ball, a rare singularity to embrace to the fullest. Do be an agnostic, and please do choose the joyous way, not the boring one. Sartre (with a hint of Shakespeare as played by the Lindsey Kemp company) became my favorite: you are free, there are no gods, you are condemned to freedom. And the alluring curse of modernism is that you have to incessantly create your life.
Yes, there is a family as well. A life-long partner in Malena Skote who abandoned architecture to become one of Sweden’s formest DIY-writers, workshop-instructor, and much more. What is the son, Jakob Skote, former AA-alumni and two-time Young Swedish Form awarded, up to? As his sister queried in a summer-party quiz? Nobody really knows, not even him, but AR and VR and Borderland and lots of Art and future probing is part of it, learn more at Untold Garden. His sister is signed up under her artist name Virgin Miri by Today Is Vintage Records as a songwriter and artist, new music is imminent! She is also a terrific graphic designer. Samson is the family mascot and also a cat.