If you've always pictured Silicon Valley with The Jetsons-like architecture and roads of Teslas, you're sorely mistaken. As part of its No_Code project that strives to combine cutting-edge technology with Italian craftsmanship, Tod's enlisted the help of Iranian-American photographer Ramak Fazel to discover the true landscape of Silicon Valley. The impression is a stark contrast to actual reality as Fazel shares in Silicon Valley. No_Code Life.
ESQ: How did this project with Tod's come about?
RAMAK FAZEL: My initial involvement dates back to the summer of 2019 when I shared some images of San Francisco with Michele Lupi (men's collections visionary at Tod's Group). A larger team of Tod's had been considering how to visually represent Silicon Valley, and they were interested in a photographic essay.
ESQ: There were two subjects photographed for Silicon Valley. No_Code Life—people and objects. Did you feel compelled to think about these subjects in two separate camps or together?
RAMAK FAZEL: They were considered in relationship to one another. The book isn't a series of portraits, and it's not only a series of landscapes. It's a catalog, a reflection on interleaving the animated built environment and natural landscapes of Silicon Valley.
ESQ: Did you come away from the project with a grasp on the visual language of Silicon Valley?
RAMAK FAZEL: Inanimate objects assert themselves in unexpected ways. For many, a visit to Silicon Valley cannot be considered complete without a selfie in front of the Facebook or Google sign, or even a sign proclaiming: 'Silicon Valley starts here'. Recognising the seduction of signage was an important step in searching for vantage points not meant for consumption.
ESQ: Besides the people, objects, and the architecture, what else stood out for you?
RAMAK FAZEL: I had not thought of the horse as a symbol of Silicon Valley. In rarefied circles around Silicon Valley, living on a farm or having access to a horse and riding trails is a huge privilege. Whether on private or public land, equine culture signals a kind of virtue.
ESQ: Were you surprised by what you found in Silicon Valley?
RAMAK FAZEL: I wanted to not be surprised by what I found, but to find myself in surprising places. There's a popular belief that Silicon Valley is a technologically advanced society. Our imagination might take us to places like Singapore or Japan for that. You need to search hard to find advanced infrastructure around The Valley. This project definitely gave me, and I think the whole team, a renewed understanding of just how ordinary Silicon Valley can be.