Open-hearted experience in Kenya with Graziana Zanin

Experience, to some, is a journey registered in particular ways, engraved on one’s heart. Passion guided discoveries, accumulating memories of unique moments. Lockdown was for Graziana Zanin this, an unforgettable experience.

Italian blood runs in her veins and also in the romantic way she describes her life experiences.

Lockdown is softening in the Netherlands. Less distant than the video-calls, Graziana and I met in Arnhem, Netherlands, in the assurance that we both were COVID-19-free.

With her background in fashion design, a bright world opens ahead because as she says “with everything that she does, she puts passion above all, regarding work and people”.

Openly, she speaks about her relationships and the passengers in her life-journey. With an open heart, she describes her likes and dislikes regarding her ideal holidays, luxury hotels in France or Italy. “Never going to the bushes”, her quote to a holiday to Africa. How on earth did she get into Kenya?

It started when she worked as a public relations and advertiser for a company that supported good initiatives. For instance, The  Chicken Project, aimed to help women in Ghana, forced into marriage at a young age. Via this project, she adopted two boys, Brian and Chris, supporting them into a brighter future. Technology made overseas contact possible and regular, but the boys kept asking for a personal visit.

After seven years, she booked her trip to Kenya to meet Brian and Chris finally.

Optimistically she added “make yourself happy girl, live the moments. When you’re happy inside, you can make everyone happy!”

In February 2020, she arrived at the airport in Nairobi.

At first, Chirs and Brian were timid even though they knew her already. Soon enough they were comfortable with aunty Graziana. With joy, she describes the reaction of the two brothers with their premiere to the Giraffe centre and visiting the mall to play games.

“That’s my passion. I meant something to these African boys. I could cry, my heart jumped, and I was so happy seeing them smiling and forgetting their problems.”

Next in the programme was meeting the boys’ family in Kiango near Kisii (The Western Highlands), located five to six hours from Nairobi near the Masai Mara reserve.

“When we got there, all the family and neighbours were outside…I felt like Queen Beatrix.” So she talks about her first impression.

A “Mzungu” visiting the village is the news! In the African language, this is the term they use for Europeans (white people) that travels the world. “What I discovered over there, people are warm even though they have not much to share”. Graziana was living the moment of her life, and little did she know about COVID-19 pandemic.

Her family was worried, but Graziana was in a safe surrounding where fewer than six cases were registered. Sooner lockdown breaks.

Unfortunately, in this village were other issues such as children in hunger from single mothers that had to sometimes get into prostitution to feed them.

“At this moment, you learn the situation of others. For example, around me, children were begging for something to eat.”

Straightaway, thanks to her colleagues and friends, via Facebook, she raised money for basic food to that community. Maize flour, for instance, is the primary ingredient for their “Ugali” which is part of their every day’s meal.

“When I saw these people’s smiles like this woman from whom I took a picture. You could see that for one moment she forgot about everything but happiness and enjoyment at that moment.”

Her experience taught her to appreciate little things in life, from teaching to play Dutch cards-game to introducing spaghetti to foreign children and teenagers.

“This makes me a rich person. I already felt happy when I was there, but all this experience was a learning journey.” 

Open-hearted Graziana was meaningful, helpful, but mostly the voice for these people living in an under-developed environment.

How motivating her tiny goodwill gestures represents to the path she decides to follow, whether in her home country, the Netherlands or on a faraway land such as Kenya.

Graziana is rather content with her life accomplishments. From her failures, a learning moment, from her success optimistic conclusions that passion rules her reason for living.


“Latineando” with Sebastian Litmanovich

By Sandra Porto

The musician/producer and graphic artist from Madrid is navigating the pandemic through the power of music.

If you’re aware of your surroundings and the people occupying them, you’ve probably noticed that we all pulsate to different vibrations. That invisible but undeniable wavelength linked to someone’s being and what we call their energy, their vibe.

Sebastian Litmanovich pulsates to a wonderful vibration – the rare mix of sensitivity, talent, instinct and simplicity. Seldom do we come across someone as complete and yet so relatable, grounded. Soft-spoken, with dark curly hair and a demeanour that is both disarming and enticing, the musician is better known by his alias ‘Cineplexx’ and has composed and produced an eclectic body of work.

In a more personal level, Sebastian doesn’t shy away from life’s struggles. Acknowledging the current difficulties is something that most of us are obliged to do, but he has gone a step further in an inspiring dichotomy where, just like a balanced universe, struggles coexist with life’s beautiful pleasures, discoveries and hope for the future.

It is in this vibe that he spoke to us from his apartment in Madrid.

We’ve known you as a musician and DJ but have since discovered that you’re also a talented visual artist…

Yes, I started as a visual artist in Buenos Aires where I studied the subject – music was a bit more intuitive and self-taught. But over time, I learned that I was studying music on my own, making time for it with discipline – the exact same process I would do in a university.

I studied Graphic Design & Audiovisual Media, and finished my education in New York at the Parsons School and School of Visual Arts. I love everything visual or musical.

What was life like back then?

University was a very busy time… I was simultaneously training as a kind of professional tennis player and working in a factory to pay for my studies. It is crazy to think about it now: I’d work, then go training and attend lessons later in the day. I didn’t have a moment of quiet or relaxation.

Back then, I was still living with my family and wanted to be busy, doing stuff. My family is very hardworking and that lifestyle was all I knew. It was also a very optimistic environment, with lots of plans and always looking forward to the future. It was inspiring.

With so much going on, we wonder how did you get into music? Did you even have the time?

I always wonder about this because there were no musicians in my family… My grandmother was a piano teacher but I never saw her playing. As soon as she got married, she stopped playing as if to say: “That’s it. I’m married now – I don’t need to teach piano anymore.”(Laughs)

I think my influence comes from my father exposing me to music. I was born in the 1970s and later in the decade, I started listening to music more consciously. My grandfather introduced me to ABBA and Kenny Rogers and I’ve studied that music since I was five or six years old. I’d take a tape, go to my father’s car and listen to music – it was also a place for myself, an escape too.

I tried to understand what was going on in there that excited me so much. I wanted to understand the (music’s) secret. I never got bored and it still is my way to understand music – to listen obsessively to the same track.

That is one life-changing influence… Which other personal experiences stand out for you?

There’s a mindset that I learned when I was around 12 years old. I went to therapy to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life! There was an exercise that really helped me and it was this: imagine that you are at a dinner party, surrounded by people you like. Suddenly, people start leaving. Which one do you wish would be the last to leave and just stay with you and no one else?

This exercise still helps me when I’m confused and ask: what do you really want to do? It has helped me to focus on music because I do it regardless of my circumstances and I find more comfort in it. I understand the sound of the music more than anything else.

When you look at your career and body of work, is there anything that is closer to your heart?

This is not easy for me to answer…  When I’m working on something I really feel that’s the best I’ve done until that date because I’m evolving all the time.

Because I’m an independent musician, it means I don’t need to compromise; each work is a natural evolution. And so, I feel my latest album ‘Solo Olas’ (meaning ‘Just Waves’) is probably the best thing I have done – I learned a lot and realised many things I dreamed about such as collaborations and working with a production company for the video and a great label. I’m happy with the result.

What changed for you with Covid-19?

It’s a pity because we were ready to go on a tour with ‘Solo Olas’ and about to play at festivals. Covid-19 came and changed everything. I still hope to go out there and play with a new band I’m working with; I feel great playing with them – professional, nice people. I’m very happy with it and I hope to start over again and put the concert out. Having said that, I’m already working on a new album…

I’m used to being alone and working at home in my flat here in Madrid. It’s nothing new to me but the pandemic affected me emotionally, I’m more aware and worry about my family and friends. But I know we’re all living this.

Something that changed for me and I miss is that I used to go out every morning to have coffee, write a couple of pages in my diary and make illustrations.

I’d have this routine every day and only did it at bars, not at home. Since lockdown started, I’ve stopped writing and drawing – I lost my inspiration to do those things. I also miss the night, the music events and social activity, which is where I get my information from and inspiration too.

I also have a radio slot here in Radio 3, the most popular in Spain. I love it – I want to live in the radio! The radio segment, called “Latineando with Cineplexx”, is an informal chat about 1960s and 1970s musicians form Latin America. I talk about their stories; curiosities and play one of the songs live. I learn and get inspired by it.

I’m most active in the night but I have to wake up at 7am for this show so, sometimes I don’t event sleep… and my voice is better in the afternoon… It’s crazy but I love it.

What else are you doing to keep motivated and inspired during this time?

I suffer from insomnia and watching the sky is very relaxing to me – I even caught the Starlink train twice, which, at first, I thought were UFOs! But I have since developed this habit of spotting them. I’m also watching a lot of comedies.

Watch the full interview:

To learn more about Sebastian’s work, visit >
To listen to Latineando with Cineplexx visit the YouTube channel here.

Feature image credit > Ana Montiel.

The reality behind the screens in times of lockdown

By Cláudia Falcão

Partly, this journalistic project The File Style is to be the voice for creative professionals in sharing their experiences in this period of lockdown. 

On an honest video-call-conversation, Belgian Robbie Thielemans talks about his passion for sound and vision-innovation systems. He reveals his fashion choices and his thoughts about how Covid-19 pandemic killed the means for creativity.  

Robbie and I are connections on LinkedIn. He reached out to thank me for a reaction on the DetaiLED Solutions post. More than ever, this network is the source, not to mention a call out for sharing of inspiring information and the best way to engage with creative professionals in such difficult times.

So, I asked straight away: How is it going with your creations in this time of lockdown? 

Honestly, he answers: Very tough! Corona did not kill creativity, but it killed the means for it. Soon after, I arranged an interview to know more insights.

Robbie Thielemans is a creative professional working in the display industry for over 26 years. Electronics and technology were his most interesting subjects. His admiration for inventors and their ability to create new things boosted his mindset to become one, but after some years he realised there’s nothing magical about it, only hard work and lots of brainstorming. “The process is not magical, but the result can be magic!” – Robbie’s quote.

In 1998 when the first LED screens changed the world of entertainment, Robbie and his team were the creative mastermind behind it. 

For years, he worked on projects and displays for the tours of famous artists such as U2, Robbie Williams and many others. As a high-tech visionary some of his creations we’ve seen on iconic events, like the Oscars.

Deeply frustrated about the governmental approach on the pandemic, he speaks his mind out: “Maybe, I’m too mathematical in my thinking, but the full approach on how it all happened was completely wrong and unbalanced. It hurts, the people and the economy!”

Creativity has no boundaries apart from financial means. “It’s very difficult now, without the financial means, to explain to people what the real idea is!” “Corona didn’t kill creativity but the means for it”.

Working as a creative consultant for the LED industry for almost three decades led him to have a strong reputation. He is recognised for his strength in turning ideas into a spectacle display with no delays. From his studio in Belgium, sometimes engaging family members in the assembling work, he develops teasers in an attempt to show his customers a prototype so that they make a budget for the project.  

Robbie converses so spontaneously and deeply about his proud achievements and what is the reality for the professionals in the creative industry affected by the lockdown. 

After such a deep conversation about the reality behind the screens in the present situation, to my surprise, the conversation turned to fashion by which he reveals his disappointment: “Men’s fashion is dull and not elegant, unlike female clothing. Wolford brand, for instance, “has a minimalist beauty in the design”, he says.

Intrinsically, he is proud of his designs and he has the same approach regarding his style. He wears brands that represent who he is, casual, sophisticated and minimalist. 

As for the logo of his consultancy company, Stereyo, it also has a profound combination: the letters of his two sons and also the transition of the wings into a butterfly.

Behind the screens, Robbie Thielemans lights up a spectacle, his identity, outspoken views and feelings, and his concerns about the reality of professionals and businesses in the creative industry.