What could making a goddam cell phone have to do with the Renaissance?' asks Erik Anderson in the New Yorker magazine. Although head of production at mobile phone company Nokia, Anderson is entitled to ask, since in his spare time he is a Renaissance architecture PhD student at Harvard. In answer to his own question he quotes Alberti: 'All care, all diligence, all financial consideration must be directed to insuring that what is built is useful, commodious, yes - but also embellished and wholly graceful.' Nokia, he continues, played Greece, 'a country where upright and noble minds flourished and the desire for embellishing what was theirs was evident. . . It was their part to surpass through ingenuity those whose wealth they could not rival, ' to Motorola's 'rich and powerful' Egypt. And explaining why Nokia makes so many different types of phone, Alberti again comes to the rescue: 'If you make lots of products but none are best in their class, you go bankrupt. If you make one good product you might do really well with it, but there won't be enough profit, so you'll go bankrupt. In the end, it all comes back to balance. Alberti was right.'
Amen to that.