Whether it’s New York, Zurich or Hong Kong, the world’s international power hubs all share a certain cosmopolitan identity. But Silicon Valley—arguably the most powerful hub of our time—remains uniquely elusive. The epicenter of modern technology is, for many, a bundle of coder clichés—an Emerald City of Mark Zuckerberg doppelgängers in Cucinelli tees. With a new book, Tod’s is going beyond the digitally-enhanced surface to explore everyday life in the 46 square miles that house technology’s biggest titans.
Michele Lupi, whose official title is Tod’s creative visionary, spearheaded the project with Iranian-American photographer Ramak Fazel. The idea, Lupi told WWD, came from none other than Tod’s CEO and chairman Diego Della Valle. “[In Silicon Valley] they know everything about us,” Della Valle pointed out, going on to observe that “the fabric of their daily lives and the nuanced reality on the ground continues to escape us. What do their houses look like? How do they spend free time and where do they go after work to relax?”
To find out, Lupi and Fazel embarked on a 10-day trip throughout the region in late 2019, just before Covid-19 would make such intimate access impossible. The results are chronicled in Silicon Valley No_Code Life, the 190-page tome released at the end of March. The title nods to Tod’s ongoing No_Code initiative, which explores the intersection of craftsmanship and technology in projects ranging from sneakers to motorcycles.
Tod’s driving mocs have long been a staple in the wardrobe of international power brokers, so it’s fitting that the brand is honing in on the capital of the 21st century’s next-gen tycoons. While the larger initiative may be rooted in technology, the new book emphasizes the humanity behind all that sleek innovation. Fazel’s approach was as anthropological as it was artistic, turning his Rolleiflex camera on such idiosyncrasies as the garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed their first computer (as well as the elderly couple who still live across the street), the senior Apple employee who plays cowboy in his downtime and the suburban watering hole favored by coders and Cupertino locals alike.
As professional anthropologist Sarah Thornton observes in the book’s preface, Silicon Valley is “like Hollywood, primarily a myth and a business.” This book, however, paints a vivid picture of the very real place that the tech industry has made its home. With that in mind, we asked Fazel to share a few of his favorite shots that best capture Silicon Valley as he came to know it.