Organisers of the Criss Cross exhibition at the Swiss Institute say that it provides an opportunity to see that Switzerlands achievements extend beyond traditional images of designer clocks, military knives and chocolate.

The event celebrates the success of the countrys designers and engineers in joining forces to produce practical and fashionable goods such as furniture, clothes, sports equipment, jewellery and books.

Some 400 examples of this type of collaboration can be seen at the Swiss Institute. The mix of themes highlights the range of talent at work. The title of the exhibition Criss Cross refers to both the cross on the Swiss flag and the crossover between art and design.

The first section is called Up to the mountains, featuring sports equipment, hats, gloves and other items with practical yet hip designs for the fashion-conscious. The section called Longsellers highlights the brands for which the Swiss are renowned, including chocolate-makers Toblerone, the military knife and furniture designer Willy Guhl.

Other sections include Library, which illustrates that while the Swiss have a long tradition of publishing books, the skills of cover designers should not be overlooked.

Criss Cross, which is sponsored by publishing house Hochparterre AG and design studio re.FORM, was invited by the Swiss government to take part in the fifth architecture biennale in So Paulo, Brazil, in 2003. It has been on a world tour since then, and after Rome the exhibition heads to Tokyo in October.

Until 17 July, Mon-Sat 15.00-19.00. Sun closed. Swiss Institute, Villa Maraini, Via Ludovisi 48, tel. 064814234.

l Fellows from the German Academy are displaying their work at Villa Massimo until 31 August.

Painter Gabriele Basch, photographer Sandra Hastenteufel, installation artist Wolfgang Kaiser and architect and designer Jakob Timpe will provide a large cross-section of exhibits.

In the courtyard there will be further pieces by Manuel Franke and special guest Leni Hoffman, who was a fellow of the academy in 2003.

Music by composer Sebastian Claren will provide the backdrop. Mon-Thurs 09.00-13.00, 14.00-17.00. Fri 09.00-13.00.

The academy is also hosting a concert by flute soloist Robert Fabbriciani on 6 July at 20.30, in the courtyard at Villa Massimo. Fabbriciani, from Arezzo in Tuscany, has toured the world and worked with numerous composers including Luigi Nono, Salvatore Sciarrino and Brian Ferneyhough.

German Academy, Villa Massimo, tel. 064425931,

l Professor Lester K. Little is stepping down on 27 July after seven years as director of the American Academy in Rome. His research to date includes work on religious poverty and the profit economy in mediaeval Europe, lay religious confraternities and Benedictine maledictions in romanesque France. Before becoming director he had spent three months at the academy in 1995, while a professor of history at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had visited Rome on other occasions in the past but used most of the time researching at the Vatican library. It has been a great joy to have an opportunity to live and work here and to do so in the privileged position of director.

He said the academy had continued to strengthen its ties with Italy since he took up the role; he also highlighted the prominence he has tried to give the modern period. Italy is a vibrant modern country and it would be unrealistic for scholars and artists to come here to immerse themselves in antiquity, the Middle Ages, or the Renaissance and meanwhile ignore Italys recent history.

Prof Little is returning to Massachusetts with his wife Lella Gandini, who has worked as the public affairs officer at the academy since 1998. Future plans include a trip to Japan where Gandini has been asked to lecture on her expert field of early childhood.

The new director will be Carmela Vircillo Franklin, who was a fellow at the academy 20 years ago and returned as the Lucy Shoe Meritt Resident in Classics in 2001-2002. She is originally from Calabria and emigrated to New York in 1964, later gaining United States citizenship.

Prof Little added: Its very special that a foreign academy name a native Italian as director, for this will only strengthen our ties with the community here.

l Robert Guinans paintings, on display at the French Academy, may have been exhibited and admired across Europe for over three decades but back in his home city of Chicago, he is less well known.

He explains the contrast: Im exotic in France. I paint a lot of American blacks and immigrants. That fascinates them there. But if I went to Paris and painted their own Arabs or Turks or African immigrants, nobody would look at my stuff.

Among those to have bought his works are the late French president Francois Mitterrand and film star Johnny Depp.

Guinan focuses on reflecting modern life in urban America, his paintings evoking images of alienation and melancholy. The artists first taste of his subjects came about when he was exposed to local bars while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1950s. He said: I just love hanging around in bars especially the ones with the old wooden refrigerators and that wonderful stale beer smell that comes out on the street when they open the doors in the morning.

In Chicago he discovered a pool of ideal subjects, such as the female Polish bartenders and the clientele of blacks, whites, Hispanics, American Indians and young Poles.

Guinans first big break, and a major factor in his popularity in France, came in the 1960s when his work attracted the interest of art dealer and gallery owner Albert Loeb from Paris. Loeb has exhibited the artists work ever since.

The French ties run even deeper however: the artist says that he was inspired by French painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrecs work, and by his calling on bars for a slice of real life.

Until 25 July. 11.00-19.00. Tues closed. French Academy, Villa Medici, Viale Trinita dei Monti 1, tel. 0667611,