What is AtWork?

“We want to inspire a new generation of thinkers”

Simon Njami

AtWork is an itinerant educational format, conceived by Moleskine Foundation and Simon Njami, that uses the creative process to stimulate critical thinking and debate among the participants. It contributes to build a new generation of thinkers.

The key element of AtWork is a workshop conducted by an artist or a curator on the chosen topic. The topic stimulates the collective discussion and a personal self-reflection on issues such as identity, culture, community, etc.

As a final output of the workshop each student produces a personalized notebook, which fixes the process of self- reflection triggered by the workshop. Each notebook takes on its own character and is the reflection of a thought at work.

The produced notebooks are exhibited in an art show, co- curated by the students themselves.

The participants may then choose to donate their works to Moleskine Foundation collection of ‘artist notebooks’, unique pieces of work created by different artists on Moleskine notebooks, among which Bili Bidjocka, Antonio Marras, Maurice Pefura, Sigur Rós, Marina Spadafora, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Giorgio Vigna and many others. The collection is used to help support Moleskine Foundation‘s activities.

All the workshop participants become part of the AtWork Community, a group of international artists, students, curators, cultural organizations, intellectuals, who believe that art can be a tool for social transformation.


The Workshop

The AtWork process starts with the participants writing their interpretation of the chosen workshop theme. This is a way to get their thinking process started, which will be the starting point of the workshop group discussion and will later spill out into the conversation with the larger AtWork community.

The workshop can last 3-5 days, during which the students, led by the artist/curator will have critical discussions around the theme chosen and will produce their notebooks.

The workshop will follow an Input-Elaboration-Output structure. The main phases will consist in:

  • Critical debate and discussion around the workshop theme
  • Idea elaboration and definition
  • Notebook production and restitution

Workshop participants

The participants can be students and young creative talents of different backgrounds. The more diverse is the group the better.


The exhibition is the first occasion for sharing and bringing the discussion outside the work group.
This activity is key for the effectiveness of the workshop as thanks to the exhibition the workshop participants will interact and confront their ideas with an external audience, creating a wider discussion and strengthening their critical thinking experience. The notebooks produced by participants can be showcased physically at the local art gallery alongside with the on-line exhibition of the rest of the collection. The exhibition can take place right after the workshop or after it, to allow some time to prepare it and curate it properly. In fact, the co-creation the exhibition along with the hosting organization is part of the workshop’s activities, where the students can continue their debate as well as their personal process while acquiring some basic curatorial skills.


The community building aspect of AtWork is at the core of the format. Through AtWork Facebook Group on-line we want the participants to be connected to a larger international and cross-cultural network of like-minded people as well as be part of a space, where they can exchange their experiences, share opinions and practices.

The students can decide to donate their notebook produced during the workshop to Moleskine Foundation, adopting Creative Commons licences. In this case their notebook will become part of our collection (physically and on-line), thus sustaining Moleskine Foundation’s mission and future AtWork’s initiatives. The on-line part of the collection continues to inspire new young minds all over the world with the breadth of its creative proposal during various AtWork experiences. Being part of the collection is also a unique opportunity for the students to exhibit their work alongside prominent contemporary artists, without any hierarchy of the works’ importance. This horizontal approach is at the core of the entire AtWork experience and allows the workshop participants to cross their local dimension boundaries and enter an international arena of discussion with wide and diversified audiences.

AtWork is a very flexible, adaptable and cost efficient format. The duration of the workshop/initiative can vary (from 3 to 5 days) and it can easily enter in a class program or other pre-existing education program. AtWork functions as a tie-in between educational program and the museum cultural/artistic proposition.

So far Moleskine Foundation has implemented 16 chapters of AtWork format in partnership with local cultural organizations, inspiring more than 500 students.

Conceived as an open format AtWork is continuously adapted and implemented by various cultural organizations around the world and so far has covered 300 students. We called this off-spin of the format AtWork Lab.

AtWork Vision (by Simon Njami)

“What AtWork is proposing is not the teaching of useless abstract theories based on vertical teacher-student relationships, but the idea of knowledge as a living thing. Knowledge is not an external element that comes to enlighten us. It is indeed recognition – that is, the realization of what is already inside us, hidden in our souls, without our knowing or conceptualizing it; in other words, it is the process of becoming aware of all the things we need to make sense of the visible and invisible world. We have nothing to teach anyone: “The light that permits encountering something other than the self, makes it encountered as if this thing came from the ego.

The light, brightness, is intelligibility itself; making everything come from me, it reduces every experience to an element of reminiscence. Reason is alone. And in this sense knowledge never encounters anything truly other in the world” (Emmanuel Levinas).

This inner light that belongs to everyone just asks to come out; and provided that we have the necessary intellectual and human tools, our role is to help this light reveal itself and flourish.

…I see AtWork as a large, non-institutional university allowing the exchange of views, experiences and contexts. Our project does not intend to promote a univocal view of art theories and creativity, which is far from our intentions, but to establish a resonating environment where specific tools become pertinent even outside their original contexts. Therefore, we are not speaking of learning in the academic and traditional sense of the word, but of knowledge, exchanges and discoveries as sensible and human experiences, far from any presumption of objectivity…

AtWork intends to promote this kind of idealism that activates the solitary character of reason, helping individuals think for themselves and within themselves. We have long understood that there is no such thing as objectivity. There are only more or less explicit wills to power. The flame of reason is flickering. It is our responsibility to revive it. This is the ambition of our modest contribution.”

Read the full text here

“We have nothing to teach anyone… This inner light that belongs to everyone just asks to come out; and provided that we have the necessary intellectual and human tools, our role is to help this light reveal itself and flourish.”

Simon Njami

Moleskine Foundation

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that was created in 2006 as lettera27 – an unconventional cultural incubator.

It takes lettera27’s heritage -people, values and projects – and brings it to a wider scale. The Moleskine Foundation embraces the experience of the founders of the Moleskine Brand, who are committed to applying the very values that led to the brand’s success to generate social impact. It operates in complete independence from the Moleskine company.

We believe that Quality Education is key to producing positive change in society and driving our collective future.

We are committed to providing youth with unconventional educational tools and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creative doing and life-long learning, with a focus on communities affected by cultural and social deprivation.

To achieve this, we work at the intersection of three focus areas: innovative education, art and culture for social transformation, advocacy and cross-cultural sensitization.

With a special focus on Africa, the Foundation works closely with local organizations to fund, support and co-create a wide range of distinctive initiatives.

Together with our partners and grantees the Moleskine Foundation strives to catalyse systemic change through an open, participatory and cross-sectorial approach.


AtWork credits

  • Format conceived by
    Moleskine Foundation and Simon Njami

    Simon Njami

    Curator (2010-2013)
    Katia Anguelova

    Program implementation
    Moleskine Foundation

    Graphic and web design
    Zetalab and PaperPlane

    Notebooks photos
    Lucio Lazzara, Eleonora Quadri

  • Video format
    Alice Crippa and Traipler

    Laura Giacalone (English-Italian)
    Coquelicot Mafille (Italian -French)

    Curator of selected AtWorkers’ notebooks’ concepts
    Raffaella Carillo

    Contact email

    With the support of
    Schermata 2016-03-10 alle 16.02.06

Special thanks to

A special thank you to all the artists, students, authors of the texts, and all the friends and partners that have supported us in various ways and made AtWork possible: Luca Corrieri, Fabio Di Liberto, Roberto Di Puma, Michela Dossi, Corina Macnovit, Luca Mariani, Katia Nicita, Giovanni Pesce, Consuelo Romeo, Micol Rossini, Domenico Ruggero, Maria Sebregondi, Monica Tarabini, Silvia Trenta.

A special thank you to all the contributors to our AtWork Addis Ababa campaign on Kickstarter:
Aiko Terao, Aleksandra Zalewska, Alessandra Di Maio, Alessia, Alessia Casini, Alex Lexi Read, Alexander Laich, Alice Jasmine Crippa, Alice O, Allegra Bordoni, Anna Jäger, Anna Meneguzzo, Antje Majewski, Antonia de Ceglia, Arnaud Cohen, Aureile Lagarde, Barbara Badioli, Beth Viner, Brian Wilk, Camilla, Camilla Catania, Carlos Sandoval, Carola, Caterina Corsini, Caterina Grimaldi, Chan Thim Yung, Clara Ursitti, Coquelicot, Cristiano Taglioretti, Cristina Preatoni, David Butler, David Bychkov, Delio Jasse, Elena Galliani, Elena Korzhenevich, Eleni, Elide Brunati, Elisa Cambioli, Elisa Campanaro, Elise Billiard, Elizabeth Valleau, Ellen Gianesin, Ennio Polito, Enzo Cereda, Federico Di Puma, Federika, Fiona, Francesco Franceschi, Franziska Baetcke, Fred Kuwornu, Gaia Blandina, Gbaguidi, Giada Cioffi, Giancarlo Gianesin, Ginny, Gio Pesce, Giorgio Brenna, Giulia Brivio, Giulio Scialpi, Guido Romeo, Henrike, Hilmar Isaksen, Ilaria Fruscio, Indiana Production Company SRL, Intrinsic Games, Isdahl, James Lucie, Jeffrey Dettmann, Jellel Gastel, Jimmy Robert, Joelle, John Stein, Kara, Karen Milbourne, Laura, Laura Toubale, Letizia Schmid, Lidia Dal Cengio, Lorenza Daverio, Luca Barnabé, Luca Immovilli, Lynette Bushuyu, Maddalena De Ferrari, Majken Sander, Maren Sanneh, Maria Barberi, Maria de Ceglia, Maria Ellis, Maria Sebregondi, Marie-Ann Yemsi, Marina Mottin, Marina Spadafora, Martina Simeti, Martino Galbusera, Mary Cinque, Massimo Gonzo, Matilde, Matt Garo, Matthias Reichwald, Maura, Maura Ferzi, Mauro Da Pozzo, Max Tuncar, Mercedes Vilardell, Michela, Michèle Reymond, Mikaela Zyss, Missla Libsekal, Monica, Mouna Karray, Myanna, Nadine Lopez, Nation 25, Nicolò Massazza, Paola Miglio, Paola Pace, Paolo Boccardi, Patrizia Campanaro, Paul Sader, Pierluigi, Pietro Gonzo, Raffaele Bellezza, Raffaella Carillo, Ricky Hartung, Roberto di Puma, Rose Mbogho, Rossella Zanelli, Rosticher Nathalie, Serena Salvione, Silvia, Silvia Mazzucchelli, Silvia Salvadori, Silvia Vercelli, Siri Sauvage, Souley, Stefan Brall, Stellafbb, Steven V-l Lee, Tammah, Tania Gianesin, Theophilus Marboah, Touria El Glaoui, Valentina, Valentina Gonzo, Veronica Taglioretti, Victoria, Walter Terzini, Wilbur E. Jordan, Jr., Witold Zyss, Wunmi, Xaviera Simmons and The Kitchen, Zosia Swidlicka

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