Formafantasma design studio

Autarky is a series of vessels and lampshades made using the simplest of materials and techniques. It’s the latest project from Formafantasma, a studio of two Italian designers based in Eindhoven, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin. The pair graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven last year, where they specialised in traditional Sicilian folk craft.

That interest is pushed further in their latest work. “We went to Sicily, to Salemi, where there is a folk event for which they use bread in a really bold way for decorations, constructing them like architectural pieces,” says Farresin. “We decided to create objects in the same way, using really simple materials.”

They experimented with what they could find at home, but it took around five to six months to get the right ingredients and proportions for the Autarky series. The pieces are made from 70 percent flour, 20 percent agricultural waste and 10 percent natural limestone, and then naturally dried or heated at a low temperature. The finished material weighs less than ceramic. Colours are created using dyes from vegetables and spices such as paprika and cinnamon. “Cinnamon has a strangely good reaction with the materials, it makes it more elastic and less crackable,” says Farresin.

“It’s still not perfect, but it’s a research project, we’re seeing how the materials react,” he says. “We called the project Autarky because we wanted to show that production can go beyond industry, or high-tech, to something much closer to home. We wanted people to see this proximity between the process and the product, to see that things can be different, that you can have small-scale, human-scale production.”

The elastic belts around the vessels are there for two reasons: “The products are unglazed, and we feel that the band works to ‘finish’ the object,” says Farresin. “It adds an element that makes the object work better on a visual level, and it also makes it feel more stable, less fragile.”

The work was shown at this year’s Milan furniture fair, as well as at Sotheby’s in London in May.

This article was published in Icon magazine, August 2010, p33. To view it in context, click on the PDF link below

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