During Milan Design Week, the exhibition “Foundation” brought together 16 different lighting pieces by the Amsterdam-based design duo, Formafantasma, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin at Spazio Krizia. This location is much loved by the Milanese not only for the fashion shows of one of the brands that made the history of Italian fashion, but also for the cultural events through which Mariuccia Mandelli used to engage intellectuals and creative minds.
Formafantasma showcases a series of lighting designs and experiments in Milan, including both old and new designs, and encompasses finished projects. And the result is a display of studies and the groundwork for current and future developments in the field of lighting.
According to Farresin, the aim is to give an insight into the pair’s process: focusing on the lighting the pieces will create, rather than the forms of the lamps themselves.
“We’re showing different objects that investigate light from different perspectives” – they said – “There are elements that look at lighting objects, and others that look at colours, or relationships with shadows.”
Upon arriving, the first piece visitors see is Ellipse – designed for the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, the Netherlands, it features a large disc covered in pale blue and gold fabric.
“We really hate colourful lighting, when the room turns into a different colour,” said Farresin. “But this was a way of adding colour without changing the colour of the light.”
Another recent design on show is Magnifiers, a series of suspended brass rings that create overlapping circles of light on the floor below.
The effect was achieved by separating the LED light from the optics.
Other designs include in the show are Colore, which naturally create flashes of colour;
and Eclisse, which looks like a solar eclipse.
Their works are as fun as they are cerebral but, on the surface, they are fairly lithe. But do not confuse this for minimalism: it’s result of technology and tools available, combined with desired aesthetics. They also are a response to something quite urgent: waste.
“Our aim from a sustainable perspective is to make something that can last over time,” Trimarchi explains. “The timelessness of the pieces is definitely something we wanted. We really feel the responsibility that, when you design something and it goes into production, it should be the least material as possible.”
“The relationship humans have with light transcends a functional dimension and is elevated to an emotional one” – said the studio – “Lamps are designed to illuminate the world with brightness, but also with the intimacy of shadow: the quality of light cannot be measured through its intensity”
Established thanks to a coherent body of work that is characterized by experimental material investigations through which they explore issues such as the relationship between tradition and local culture, ‘foundation’ by studio formafantasma marks their transition into a more industrial direction. Indeed, this latest exhibition is timed to coincide with the launch of two new lights, created by Formafantasma for Italian lighting brand Flos: Wire Ring lamp and Blush lamp.
Wire Ring Lamp has a flattened power cord that forms a sculptural support for the light – they reinterpret it to be a feature, rather than something to hide away.
Both designers were hoping to reduce as much as they could and stumbled upon their ring light thanks to the tools at their disposal: an electrical cable and a ring with LEDs. The cable being the main point of the light, it turns on with a push of the cable that wraps around the ring.
The studio flattened it to resemble a belt, and stretched it across the top of the light to anchor it to the wall. The entire lamp can be disassembled to just a couple of pieces, and is available in pink, grey or white.
“Wire Ring is an exercise in reduction: stripped back to its most essential components, the lamp delivers the most with the least,” they said.
The other Flos light is the Blush lamp, which casts multicoloured reflections designed to recall the feeling of long summer days.
It uses dichroic glass to create rainbow strips from a thin LED beam. “It really sharply goes into the glass, making the color” they said.
Andrea Trimarchi (1983) and Simone Farresin (1980) are Studio Formafantasma, an Italian designers duo based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Their interest in product design developed on the IM master course at Design Academy Eindhoven, where they graduated in July 2009. Since then, Formafantasma has developed a coherent body of work characterised by experimental material investigations and explored issues such as the relationship between tradition and local culture, critical approaches to sustainability and the significance of objects as cultural conduits.
In perceiving their role as a bridge between craft, industry, object and user, they are interested in forging links between their research-based practice and a wider design industry. As a result, works by Studio Formafantasma have been commissioned by a variety of partners including Fendi, Max Mara – Sportmax, Hermès, Droog, Nodus rug, J&L Lobmeyr, Gallery Giustini / Stagetti Galleria O. Roma, Gallery Libby Sellers, Established and Sons and Lexus. Whether designing for a client or investigating alternative applications of materials, Studio Formafantasma apply the same rigorous attention to context, process and detail to every project they undertake. The added nuance for the duo is that they do so with an eye to the historical, political and social forces that have shaped their environments.
Their work has been presented and published internationally and museums such as New York’s MoMA, London’s Victoria and Albert, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, the Stedelijk’s-Hertogenbosch, MUDAC Lausanne, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in North Carolina and the MAK Museum in Vienna have all acquired Formafantasma’s designs for their permanent collections. In March 2011 Paola Antonelli of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and esteemed design critic Alice Rawsthorn listed their studio amongst a handful of practices that would shape the future of design.
Andrea and Simone are lecturing and heading workshops in various Universities and Institutions. Currently they are teaching at the ‘Well Being’ and ‘Contextual Design’ Departments of the Design Academy Eindhoven. Since October 2016, they are at the head of the Design bachelor at MADE Program in Siracusa, Italy.