Material maestros

Studio Formafantasma explores the intersection between material and culture. Here are four of our favourite projects by the inventive duo.

The creative duo who make up Studio Formafantasma, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, met while studying and formed a partnership that has not only defined their design identity but has garnered them international acclaim for their unique take on materiality.

They have experimented with unusual materials, ranging from fish leather and lava to cocoa and coal, to create products that push not only the possibilities of production but also investigate its cultural, environmental and social context. 

In general, our fascination for objects lies in their ability to represent human history and even possible futures.

"We see design as a discipline meant to question and envision social, cultural end even political changes,” they explain. “With this in mind, our projects always start from our own personal fascinations. The translation of this intuition into our designs sees the transformation of intimate ideas into more sharable concepts.”

Read more about their experimental approach and where they think the future of design is heading in this Q&A.

Here we round up four of their projects, each a unique exploration of a different material.

Studio Formafantasma will be a speaker at Design Indaba Conference 2015, which takes place from 25 to 27 February 2015. Secure your seat before 9 December 2014 and qualify for a 10% discount. Book here.

Looking at lava

With "De Natura Fossilium" – done in collaboration with Gallery Libby Sellers – Studio Formafantasma investigates the cultures surrounding Mount Etna and how they were affected by the 2013 volcanic eruption. The collection brings both the landscape and the forces of nature together as facilities for production, the Italian duo explains. Read more about it here.

Playing with plastic

The project "Botanica" was commissioned by Plart, an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the recovery, restoration and conservation of works of art and design produced in plastic. Almost like historians, Studio Formafantasma investigated the pre-Bakelite period, discovering unexpected textures, sensations and technical possibilities offered by natural polymers extracted from plants or animal-derivatives. The designers researched and hunted for information, digging into the 18th and 19th centuries, when scientists began experimenting with draining plants and animals in search for plasticity. See more here.

Reimagining leather

“Craftica” is a tactile and visual investigation into the possibilities of leather. The project, commissioned by luxury Italian fashion house Fendi, saw the designers blending tradition and experimental production processes using the brand’s discarded materials. The range of “leathers” used include fish skins, vegetal-processed leather using natural substances such as tree bark, cork leather from cork trees and even a series of animal bladders. See more here.

Baked ingredients

“Baked” is inspired by a Sicilian folk event in Salemi, where a flour-based material is used to create architectural decorations. The studio designed and baked a collection of containers and vessels made from a material based on ingredients from the kitchen such as flour, coffee, cocoa and spinach, mixed together with natural products such as salt, shellac and spices to make the objects durable. Read more about it here.

Watch the Trailer with Studio Formafantasma