Design Creators – The visionaries of tomorrow’s design – Interview with FORMAFANTASMA
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Creators – The visionaries of tomorrow’s design – Interview with FORMAFANTASMA

Claire Lescot

When we talk about the designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin we immediately think of a brain drain. After graduating from the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the consecrated European incubator for talent, they decided to open their Formafantasma studio in Amsterdam.

Their approach is conceptual and takes into account historical and socio-political implications and their works end up in circuits that have little to do with industrial production. The consumption of the product is not the main purpose for which they draw, in fact, sometimes there is not even a drawing. Many of their objects are able to obtain a shape only during processing. The form is, therefore, less than the search, hence the name: Formafantasma (In English: ghost–shape).

Many works are worthy of note but the most interesting for us are : the objects with an organic form produced with the molten lava of the Etna (that looks like glass), the stools of skin of fish wolf or salmon, the carafes and lamps of dried bovine bladder (all waste from the food industry), ecological plastic pots made of wood fibers and animal proteins (a type of natural plasticization deriving from a processing method from the end of the 18th century) and furniture components resulting from electronic waste .

Atypical about creative and visionary processes regarding reuse and innovation, the duo is ready to revive the concept of design in the world

A Venetian and a Sicilian, the deep north and the deep south that meet. Where did it happen and what is the common denominator that has kept you connected?

We met during our B.A. in Florence, then we started working together and we applied for the Master at Design Academy in Eindhoven as a team. It was the first time this was happening and the head of the IM Master Gijs Bakker has been so open minded to understand this could work. We graduated with a joint project. When we work everything is really organic and sometimes there are a lot of discussions. But that is also the nice part. We communicate in our own way and we understand and trust each other. Working in a couple give you the possibility to look at your work with more objectivity. Our projects are the result of a process of distillation of ideas. We, as designers, work almost like filters and know where we start but never where we will end

Where does the name Formfantasma come from?

We had this name in mind since we started working together really at the early beginning. If you translate it into English it means ghost shape. It is actually pointing out how our work is not driven by a formal research but more by a conceptual approach

Your work is 90% research and 10% form. What is your idea regarding the aesthetics?

In all honesty, we are not preoccupied with aesthetic. We are aware our objects share a common visual sensibility but this is not what we are busy within the studio. The formal aspect of our work is much more intuitive and it can evolve or change depending on the ideas we are channeling

What is your intention as designers?

As designers every time we start a new project or we investigate a material our first intention is to questions stereotypes and cliché. Often more than giving solutions we propose questions or possible alternatives. To give you an example, with Botanica we investigated pre-industrial polymers and translate them into a collection of handmade vessels. If plastics are used for their perfect surfaces we are crafting them by hand. Where industrial evolution have discarded this materials and researches in favor of petrol-based polymers, we are revisiting the potentials of underestimated materials. More, in general, we believe the role of a designer is to respond to social and cultural necessities of a society. A designer should be critical and with the ability to open up possibilities and new ways of intending design as a discipline

We’d like to hear your thought about sustainable design

Sustainability is a beautiful idea, nevertheless, it is the reassuring response of the economy to the ecological crisis. In all honesty, there is nothing sustainable about capitalism or production and consumption. We are more interested in the idea of ecology. As a word is much more complex and inclusive. In the next years of design education, we would love to see designers rethinking the discipline not anymore as a tool to improve only the life of humans but more looking at the planet earth as a whole with all its complexity and multi-species cohabitation. Recently we have studied the electronics recycling industry to understand if it was possible to recover components or materials in both developed and developing countries. Our work is evolving and taking on more responsibility. We will deepen this and other aspects at the next exhibition of Paola Antonelli Broken Nature.

Do you think it’s too early to ask you to spend a few words about your exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries scheduled for 2020?

Yes, It is too early to talk about it. In any case, it will be about ecology and it will deal with design beyond furniture design. Also, it will be a collaborative exhibition: we will feature works of other practitioners so as to create links between design and other disciplines

As a true Italian, I can not close the interview without asking you what is your favorite dish

Our favorite food is pasta aglio olio peperoncino. Almost everybody can afford it, its good, simple and with no useless ingredients. We love to top it with muddica (the Sicilian tradition of baking some bread crumbs)


I visionari del design di domani Intervista a FORMAFANTASMA


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Written by Claire Lescot
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