Formafantasma x Euroluce 2023

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Aurore by Formafantasma ⁣

“Everything is born of this incandescence. Regardless of a thing’s color, smell, or shape—regardless of whether it’s marble or clay, milk or rain, wind or clouds in the sky—everything the eye can see is simply an emanation of this same light, which makes sight possible. At the beginning of time, this incandescence created every element that gave shape to every thing on Earth. Objects and events are merely the slowed-down, cooled-o forms of this incandescence, which allow themselves to be illuminated, touched, and moved by this same light.”⁣ ⁣

Words by Emanuele Coccia Photography by Luca A. Caizzi

⁣ Exhibition design by Formafantasma Concept design by Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin Design and development by Gabriele Milanese A visual research and video production by C41.eu

Executive producer audiovisual installation: Barbara Guieu Producer audiovisual installation: Beatrice Lebrun Creative director audiovisual installation: Leone Balduzzi Visual research audiovisual installation: Francesco D’Errico Visual research audiovisual installation: Inga Lavarini

Visual treatment and effects: Vittoria Elena Simone Music and sound design by Smider Voiceover text editing: Emanuele Coccia Voiceover: Claire Bocking

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories

Formafantasma: the Italian design studio loved by Prada, Fendi and Hermès

By David Plaisant

Formafantasma GQ Style

In a semi-industrial neighbourhood in Milan ’s north east, Formafantasma has transformed an old warehouse into a tasteful oasis of cool. The studio’s cofounders, Simone Farresin, 41, and Andrea Trimarchi, 38, offer a welcome that’s as serene as the space they’ve created. Their Italian greyhound, Terra (meaning “earth”), roams around refined white couches and pale ash-wood tables. 

Since founding their design practice in 2009 in the Netherlands, these impeccably turned-out partners (in life and business) have gained adulation at the upper reaches of the design community. But after returning to their native Italy in 2021, and with a growing roster of big-brand clients including Prada , Flos, Fendi and Hermès, Formafantasma is on the cusp of making even larger strides out of the rarefied world of design and into the creative mainstream.

Formafantasma GQ Style

The Formafantasma office in Milan is an industrial space transformed with blond wood, objets d’art – and a nonchalant hound.

Formafantasma means “ghost form”: a name that mirrors the pair’s desire to eternally morph. “Many times with our work, we look at the ghosts of things,” says Farresin. “The ghosts of colonialism in design, the ghosts of industrial production, even the ghosts of waste.” Deciding very early on to work as a duo (they’ve never worked on a project individually and even submitted work in tandem as students at Eindhoven’s prestigious Design Academy), Farresin and Trimarchi have long since fused into one.

Together they’ve developed a killer MO, employing unexpected materials and applying research that’s normally confined to academic circles to the workings of a commercial design studio. Whether it’s their chic and tonal “ExCinere” wall tile collection glazed with volcanic ash, or their hanging “Wireline” ceiling lamp for Flos , the studio’s product output is always distinct, minimal and meticulously made. 

Formafantasma GQ Style

The Botanica V showcases the duo’s knack for combining unusual materials.

“Fundamentally we wanted to change the perception of design, change what people think design is,” continues Farresin. For them, design isn’t just about cars and furniture, but “an attitude that belongs to humans that allows them to better shape their environment”. From exploring wood for Hans Ulrich Obrist at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2020 to experimenting with lava and plastics, there are few designers today who take materiality so seriously. This, combined with their stealth disruption of commercial design, has seen them take centre stage in the industry.

This year they’ve continued to straddle a fertile space between the cultural and the commercial. In April, Formafantasma’s exhibition design for “The Milk of Dreams” at the Venice Biennale had the art world talking for weeks. Then in June, they held a provocative symposium series in partnership with Prada during Milan Design Week. With their roster of designers, scientists and thinkers, the “Prada Frames” talks curated and moderated by the duo sealed their position at the cultural nexus of the design community.

Formafantasma GQ Style

Minimalist vases echo the pair’s penchant for precision.

Formafantasma GQ Style

De Natura Fossilium is made of cast lava from Mount Etna.

For Formafantasma, finding the right collaborators is also fundamental. “Prada was a good fit for us,” says Trimarchi of the alignment, although they are keen to stress that Prada Frames was about much more than fashion. But unsurprisingly, given we find ourselves in Milan, clothes are extremely important for both of them.

“Clothes always had a lot of meaning for me,” says Farresin. “Growing up gay or queer, they were important in forming my identity .” There’s also an innate Italianness to their connection to clothes. “It’s not only about being good to yourself,” he continues. “It’s equally about showing respect to whoever you might meet.” The couple never intentionally coordinate what they wear, and even though they might like many of the same things, they most definitely do not share garments. “For one, we are completely different sizes,” says Trimarchi, laughing. 

Formafantasma GQ Style

The Craftica collection for Fendi includes containers made from cow bladder, cork and brass.

Are they happy to see all the big events – Venice Biennale, Salone del Mobile – back on? “Frankly it was quite shocking going to Salone this year,” says Trimarchi of the waste involved in the annual Milan design fair. “After two years of the pandemic, it was all business as usual,” he continues. Farresin points out that it’s the same with the fashion weeks that take over the Italian city. “I was looking at the quantity of the materials used for cinematography and set design and I was really thinking, Why is nobody saying anything?”

The Mita x Adidas Samba gives the sneaker its bougiest makeover to date

By Adam Cheung

The rare Air Jordan 4 ‘Fear’ is finally coming back, 11 years later

By Brit Dawson

He recalls seeing an image of Greta Thunberg plastered on one design brand’s stand earlier this year. “It was so, so bizarre,” he says, astounded at the sight of the young environmentalist’s image being used in such a way. “Everyone just walked past like it was normal.” For Formafantasma, this type of oversight is frustrating. “Things are deemed to be greenwashing when they are not, and when it really is greenwashing, it’s not even noticed”.

Formafantasma GQ Style

A Craftica stool pairs sea sponge and salmon skin with wood and discarded leather.

In a world where environmental and social responsibility are key to any brand’s messaging, do the pair see a lot of hypocrisy in the design industry? Despite Formafantasma’s pointed critique of the scenes they’re so involved with, they’re keen not to sound moralistic. “Not so much hypocritical but definitely contradictory,” emphasises Farresin with conviction. For him, it’s not the time to create grand solutions or find narrative coherence when we’re faced with such complex and multilayered problems. “Put simply, our daily lives are totally incoherent. We have clients and, yes, maybe they are not particularly informed about these things, but it takes time.” The duo are keener to take the industry with them than shame bad practice.

Many of the brands they work with are opening up, attempting to discuss pressing issues with their audiences, but there’s always a need for balance. “We all want frivolous things and we all want to have fun,” insists Farresin. But since the pandemic, they have a real appetite for change too. “We don’t just want silly things all of the time anymore. What we also really want – from brands, from humans, from our friends – is seriousness. We all want to engage in thoughtful conversation.”

Formafantasma GQ Style

Personal touches – a Swiss cheese plant here, a statement lamp there – give the old warehouse warmth.

Since the Formafantasma studio moved to Milan after a decade in Amsterdam, there’s hardly been a moment to reflect on an intense and prolific period of creation. The studio’s rise has coincided with an increased interest in a variety of sectors – from culture to design and fashion – amongst the wider public. As Formafantasma has grown, where they sit in the imagination has shifted. Even the partners struggle to categorise themselves. “The mainstream think we are too niche, and the niche think we are too mainstream,” laughs Trimarchi. Farresin agrees. “The commercial people think we are too alternative and the alternatives think we’re too commercial,” he says with a shrug and a grin.

Despite their success, they don’t have oversized objectives for the future. Instead, they want a slow and sustainable trajectory. “We want to remain relatively small, maybe 10 people max,” says Farresin. For the pair, it really isn’t about growth for its own sake. “The point is to keep doing what we love and to have nice people around to do that with. That’s our biggest ambition.”

PRODUCTION CREDITS Photographs by Adrianna Glaviano Styled by Chiara Spennato Stylist's assistant: Camilla Becchetti Grooming by Renos Politis at Etoile Management

More from GQ

The radical liberation of Sam Smith

Industry season 2 has the best TV soundtrack of the year

Is the UK heading for a winter of civil unrest ?

Is plant-based meat actually good for you?

Why 2023 was the year of fun watches

By Cam Wolf

The biggest, baddest movers and shakers in the watch world right now

By Brynn Wallner

Ranking the best watch brands of 2023, according to experts

By Laura McCreddie-Doak

The best heated throws for tackling the winter chill head-on

By Ali Howard

2023 in 23 sneakers, as told by 23 sneakerheads

By Iain Macauley

The greatest Adidas sneaker collaborations of all time

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Subscribe to our newsletter

TLmag is dedicated to curating and capturing the collectible culture – the international players and evolving expertise that shape art and design. Read more about TLmag

  • Light Table
  • All articles
  • Excellence & Creation
  • Living with Art & Design
  • Special Guests

Online editions

  • America Today
  • Architonic: Material Tendencies
  • Art & Nature
  • Art & Performance
  • Art & Poetry

Contributors

  • Lise Coirier - Founder (2009) / Pub...
  • Adrian Madlener - US Editor - Contribu...
  • Nina Fink - Translator / Copy Ed...

Stay in touch

  • Subscriptions

Formafantasma – Reinterpreting the Past to Revitalize the Present

Simone Farresin from the studio Formafantasma spoke to TLmag about the duo’s affinity for archæology.

  • Print this article

Amsterdam-based design studio Formafantasma stands tall amidst a saturated design world. Beyond a highly-detailed and visually-refined aesthetic is an underlying awareness of the domain’s wider ramifications. However, the Italian duo’s oeuvre is not mired in literal problem-solving but rather grapples with complex issues on different poetic and critical levels. Weather designing minimalistic light fixtures or translating ancient artifacts into contemporary designs, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin are driven by a deeply conceptual yet investigative approach; shedding a contemporary light on historical materials and production processes. A project like Ore Streams reveals how such a method can address ‘wicked problems,’ such as the current global waste crisis.

TLmag: In the Delta collection , you trans-mitted the essence of Ancient Roman artifacts into contemporary objects. Why is it relevant to explore the past? Simone Farresin: Commissioned by Gallery Giustini / Stagetti to use Rome as a topic, we decided to take an archæological approach and employ the city’s museums as a collec-tive archive. We selected key archetypical objects that have been functional throughout the ages and extracted essential elements to create a series of objects, luminaires, and furnishings. For us, it’s not just about look-ing to history as a point of inspiration but as a source of forgotten knowledge that can inform the present. In the recent past, de-signers were obsessed with the new, the modernist philosophy of vying for a future that never came. Looking back is seen as nostalgic but in truth, it’s about realizing that everything man-made can be revisited.

TLmag: In the Botanica project , you explored the history of plastic. How does your interest and use of an archæological methodology extend to materials and pro-duction techniques? S.F.: The project was initiated by Italian foundation Plart that restores plastic artifacts but also commissions new work. We began by looking into the history of how this material was first produced and implemented. What was discovered is that Pre-industrial polymers were not the limited range of synthetics we know today but rather, a wider span of mixtures, de-rived from animal and plant proteins. We created a series of vessels—using archaic finishes and composites—that revealed different implications, not in the least eco-logical concerns. Speculating on what the world would look like if oil had never been introduced to material generation, we wanted to find a way to recuperate that pre-industrial knowledge and to see where it might have a potential application today.

TLmag: Ore Streams is a multivalent undertaking that explores the pressing issue of electronic waste. How did you employ a similar investigative approach in developing this project? S.F.: Design, like archæology, is about ex-cavating knowledge, finding new patterns like the relationship between production and recycling, colonialism and the impact of mineral extraction. We were commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne to develop a research and design project that explores the global implications of electronic waste. With Ore Stream , we investigated the full lifecycle of electronic products and spoke to a wide range of experts. We were driven by the idea of that we could extract raw material from waste. Linking all of this knowledge together is a informative animation but also a series of Trojan-horse furniture pieces—directly us-ing parts from old devices. For us, this way of working is a blueprint that others can adopt: addressing and unpacking a given field, to expose what goes on behind the scenes.

www.formafantasma.com @formafantasma

Cover: Studio Formafantasma, Andrea Trimarchi & Simone Farresin, © Delfino Legnani Sisto

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Articles you also might like

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Aldo Bakker: Scale Follows Form

Aldo Bakker contributed a carte blanche feature in the 2023 issue of TLmag39: The Culture of the Object, which included a text by Ernst van Alpen. This online version is an adaptation of the print.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Aldo Bakker: Specific Objects

The Kunstraum Zug presents Specific Objects, an exhibition of pouring vessels by Aldo Bakker, which were originally presented within a larger exhibition at the Kunstmuseum The Hague, in 2022.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Histoires de pierres

Jean de Loisy and Sam Stourdzé curated the exhibition, Histoires de pierres (Stories of Stones), at the Academy of France in Rome – Villa Médicis, on view now through the 14th of January, 2024.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Why Objects?

TLmag invited Christian Larsen to write about his connection with the object in the context of our 2023 issue: The Culture of the Object, in which this article originally appeared.

web analytics

  • ITA ( ITA )

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Taormina looks to the future

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Moving light

  • Visual design
  • Milan Design Week
  • Urban design

gabriele milanese formafantasma

A multi-coloured housing project

  • Landscape design

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Green logistics

  • Historical heritage

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Murals for the home

gabriele milanese formafantasma

The power of colour

Formafantasma, design and materials

  • 11 November 2015

Formafantasma, design and materials

New projects in rome, milan and tokyo for the studio that has made the research of materials its own stylistic hallmark..

Ever more requests and ever more on the move. Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi , the founders of Formafantasma , are confirming the predictions made by the New York Times, which in 2011 identified them as being among the most influential designers of the next 10 years. Recently returned from Tokyo, where they are organising a few projects that are still top secret (one of these relates to a collaboration with a Japanese company for the 2016 edition of the Salone del Mobile), the designers talked to us from their new studio in Amsterdam to tell us about what is capturing their attention right now. “We are finishing up “Delta”, a collection created for Galleria O of Rome that pays homage to the Tiber river, which we made at the invitation of Domitilla Dardi, Curator of Design at MAXXI. It includes lamps, tables and crockery, and it will be presented at the end of the year”, they explained. As already occurred with “De Natura Fossilium”, the project development started with a visit to the city, in particular to its archeological museums, which then led to the study and focus on a few materials with strong connotations. In this case it was black travertine, red porcelain, bronze, silver and small fragments of marble.

De Natura Fossilium: Salina, Formafantasma (photo by Luisa Zanzani).

On the horizon is another collaboration with an important contemporary art gallery, this time it’s the Milanese Peep Hole, where in February 2016 Formafantasma will focus on the topic of light. “At this moment it’s very attractive to us – they confirm – and for 2017 we also have a project with a company precisely based on this element”. But that’s all they’ll say. Their thoughts are returning to the research of primary materials, which has long fascinated the duo of designers with the greatest tendency towards alchemy in the current design landscape. “In a few months we’ll be creating a window display in Tokyo using food as the principal staging material. An operation linked to the frailty and at the same time the ambiguity of a material – industrial food – that is used to produce biodegradable materials like grocery bags made of corn, and also as a food”. Just like with “Craftica” and “Botanica”, the material itself is always the motor for the actions of Formafantasma. Because first comes research and the form . . . follows.

Craftica, Formafantasma for Art Miami 2012 for Fendi lights (photo by Luisa Zanzani).

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Previous Article

Next article, leave a reply cancel reply.

Get Abitare delivered direct to your door or browse it on your computer, smartphone, or tablet (app available for Android and iOS). Click here to see all print and digital offers.

Rediscovering Martinelli in Merano

Founded in 1961 by Piera Peroni Abitare magazine has crossed the history of costume, architecture and design, international, following in its pages the evolution of our ways of life and how we inhabit places

Rivista Abitare 1961

Our Services

  • Subscriptions
  • Dichiarazione di Accessibilità
  • Cookie Policy
  • Cookie Preferences
  • Cookie consent status: -
  • Corriere della Sera
  • La Gazzetta dello Sport
  • Dove Viaggi

Naviga il sito di Iodonna.it, Amica.it, Oggi.it, Living.corriere.it, Viaggi.corriere.it, Abitare.it e Style.corriere.it rifiutando tutti i cookie di profilazione ad eccezione di quelli tecnici necessari.

Naviga il sito di Abitare.it con pubblicità profilata e senza abbonarti

Come indicato nella cookie policy noi e terze parti facciamo uso di tecnologie, quali i cookie, per raccogliere ed elaborare dati personali dai dispositivi (ad esempio l'indirizzo IP, tracciamenti precisi dei dispositivi e della posizione geografica). Per installare i cookie che garantiscono le funzionalità tecniche, non è necessario il tuo consenso. Con il tuo consenso, noi e alcune tra     terze parti presenti in questa lista - inserzionisti nonché intermediari del mercato pubblicitario di volta in volta coinvolti -, potremo mostrarti pubblicità personalizzata, misurarne la performance, analizzare le nostre audience e migliorare i nostri prodotti e servizi. Puoi liberamente conferire, rifiutare o revocare il consenso a tutti o alcuni dei trattamenti facendo click sul pulsante "Preferenze" sempre raggiungibile anche attraverso la nostra cookie policy. In caso di rifiuto integrale o delle singole finalità necessarie all'erogazione di pubblicità e di contenuti personalizzati, potrai scegliere di aderire a un piano di abbonamento. Puoi acconsentire direttamente all'uso delle tecnologie sopra menzionate facendo click su "Accetta e continua" o rifiutarne l'uso e abbonarti facendo click su "Rifiuta e abbonati".

By subscribing you will reject all but technical cookies on Iodonna.it, Amica.it, Oggi.it, Living.corriere.it, Viaggi.corriere.it, Abitare.it, Style.corriere.it websites.

By clicking "accept" you will allow to process your personal data by us and third parties and be able to browse Abitare.it website without a subscription.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Garden Futures

Vitra design museum , 2023, notes, references and external links, contributors.

This website has been designed to minimise the energy consumption and CO2 emissions that result from navigating the internet. To know more about this click here .

  • © FORMAFANTASMA 2024
  • Shopping bag ( 0 )

Aurore by Formafantasma

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Words by Emanuele Coccia

Photogrphy by Luca A. Caizzi 

Published on April 28, 2023

Everything is born of this incandescence. Regardless of a thing’s color, smell, or shape—regardless of whether it’s marble or clay, milk or rain, wind or clouds in the sky—everything the eye can see is simply an emanation of this same light, which makes sight possible. At the beginning of time, this incandescence created every element that gave shape to every thing on Earth. Objects and events are merely the slowed-down, cooled-off forms of this incandescence, which allow themselves to be illuminated, touched, and moved by this same light. It’s not limited to the sun alone, nor to the collection of planets that court it and are the remnants of its birth. The entire cosmos is nothing other than the emanation and dissipation of starlight. All celestial matter is the elusive vitality of a light that may cool off, but will never disappear completely. Every day, cosmic light, sunlight, returns to earth, inundating it from afar. Some forms of life on earth have developed the ability to capture this light, storing it in the form of chemical bonds in the earth’s mineral flesh. In this way, this energy becomes available to all other living species. Photosynthesis, the name we give to this process, thus strangely “celestializes” the earth, as our planet fills itself with sunlight and with an extraterrestrial form of energy. All animals seek this light; eating is nothing more than a secret tracking of this alien fluid, as it runs from body to body, species to species, kingdom to kingdom. Each and every human gesture and thought is sustained by this extraterrestrial life. Light makes us aliens, intrinsically extraterrestrial beings. Everything depends on this light. We need it so badly that some forms of life have tried to incarnate a kind of portable sun in their very bodies; they make light into an individual organ. Bioluminescence is a living thing’s imitation of the sun, their effort to redouble it up to the point that it’s indiscernible from the very bodies of animals and plants. Life is always the effort to become sunshine for everyone else.

Humans have preferred to take possession of this light without truly internalizing it. And in fact, a specific type of light is both the source of each technology and the shape taken by it: fire, domesticated hundreds of thousands of years ago. The verb “domesticated” makes it clear: through this process light entered into our homes, indeed became our home. Fire is what has allowed us to live anywhere. It’s what has allowed us to transform each substance and each situation in our image. It’s an entirely terrestrial sun, one that confers an astral quality to whoever makes use of it. We are attracted by light in another sense, too. If all things arise from the sun and all things are touched again by the sun—if each and every thing is light from light and light on light—what we call “spirit” or “mind” may perhaps be just the particular shape that each face, and each life, gives to this communal, universal light. Every time we look at someone’s face we try to discern this light. And a portrait, therefore, is nothing other than the effort to capture the specific timbre or tone each life gives it. Light is also the tension that both unites and separates the sky from the ground, the clouds from the earth. Lightning is light become meteor, the elusive and unpredictable outline of a trajectory that seems to erase itself the very moment it takes shape in the sky.

In our homes, fire per se no longer exists—it’s been captured in a lament of tungsten suspended inside a glass bulb. Lightbulbs have brought light everywhere, at all times. They’re artificial, technological suns, which make built environments “flooded with sunlight.” They’re completely tame domestic suns. This domesticated artificial light is now everywhere: not just in our lighting fixtures, computer screens, headlights, and streetlamps. Our society is obsessed with light. We have erased nighttime; we have obliterated sleep. Our society of light has seceded from any physiological dependence on the sun. Light is now everywhere, in every moment—and perhaps, for this reason, nowhere. The politics of light has not only mixed up day and night; it has also transformed the whole planet into an enormous city where work never ends. The city never dies because it has privatized the sun and brought it to earth. We will never again stop working. As children of the sun, we are addicted to electric light. In the global city, light accompanies and animates the most disparate objects and technologies. One could justly say that every technological revolution, from the discovery and domestication of fire up until today, is at bottom a new way of making light exist in the world. The vitality of light is always behind the power of a technological artifact, and vice-versa, every technological invention is a way of giving light new life among us. In the global city, we put light to the most disparate uses, from making plants grow to illuminating animals in their pens. There’s nothing necessarily perverse in this practice; every species tries to be another friendly sun. And yet, if giving light is just the expression of the will to power, the risk is that the desire to become the sun for all other species will morph into the experience of losing one’s own freedom.

In January 1925, the largest producers and sellers of electric lightbulbs created an oligopoly, founding the syndicate known as the Phoebus cartel, named after the Swiss joint-stock company. The producers included Osram, General Electric, Associated Electrical Industries, and Philips. Their goal was to control the market via the planned obsolescence of lightbulbs. The lifespan of these objects was designed to burn out before their materials did. Since then, light has been the object of a global plan for early extinction. As humans, we need to turn out the lights. We need darkness. But this does not mean we have the right to make the light that passes through us feeble and deadly.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

Words: Emanuele Coccia

Photography: Luca A. Caizzi

Subscribe to our newsletter

Step inside Formafantasma’s chic new live/work space in Milan

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma invite us to their new Milanese studio, set within the Assab One cultural complex and featuring bespoke furniture created with Sicilian manufacturer DiSé

  • Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter

Interior view of the Formafantasma Milan studio featuring grey floors, white walls, a pendant light, custom built light wood office furniture and large green plants in pots

The area north of Milan’s Piazzale Loreto is not on the city’s traditional design circuits. It doesn’t have the cobblestoned charm of Brera and the fashion triangle, there isn’t an abundance of former warehouses turned into cultural destinations, and it’s probably not where you’d want to take a walk on a sunny day. There’s a tinge of dystopia to the area, which is defined by one of the city’s largest traffic arteries, a string of supermarkets, petrol stations, and apartment and office buildings that grow less and less picturesque as you move away from the city centre. But change is afoot: Milan-based architect Andrea Caputo is now working as part of a team to transform the Piazzale with green spaces and pedestrian areas ahead of the 2026 Olympics, a project that will instil new life into neighbouring areas. ‘The neighbourhood was really overlooked until now, but its transformation is evident,’ says Andrea Trimarchi, co-founder of design studio Formafantasma. ‘Restaurant openings, concerts, events in the area’s parks; so many new things are popping up. It’s also a very diverse area, with active local associations and several well-established South American and African communities.’

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin with their Italian greyhound Terra in the studio’s reception area

Trimarchi and partner Simone Farresin are familiar with the area, having moved their studio (and their lives) into Assab One, a couple of kilometres north of Piazzale Loreto. A local institution, the not-for-profit cultural complex is spearheaded by Elena Quarestani, and known for its bright Nathalie Du Pasquier murals, as well as art, design and architecture exhibitions.

It also includes a series of spaces that are slowly being populated by international creatives, from Studio Mumbai’s Milanese outpost to experimental events organisers Terraforma Editions and popular independent publishers Guide Moizzi and Blackie Edizioni. The area feels more relaxed and open-minded than central Milan, notes Farresin. ‘Being here feels in line with our principles.’

From Amsterdam to Milan

Past designs on display on a bookshelf include ‘Still’, a 2012 crystal and copper water carafe for Lobmeyr, and ‘Moulding Tradition’, a series of vessels informed by a Sicilian ceramic tradition

Trimarchi and Farresin had lived in the Netherlands for 14 years, having moved their studio to Amsterdam in 2009 after graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven. They had been talking about returning to Italy for years, mostly for cultural and social reasons. ‘We didn’t imagine growing old in Amsterdam,’ admits Trimarchi. ‘We never fully integrated in the Netherlands; and the idea of community we have in Italy doesn’t exist anywhere else in Europe.’ Other reasons, such as the more structured approach to design in Italy, and the fact that many of their clients are based here, contributed to the decision. 

They continue to maintain a second studio in Rotterdam, now led by designer Jeroen van de Gruiter, a fellow Design Academy alumnus who has been with Formafantasma since its early days. It currently operates as a satellite to the Milan HQ, but the idea is to eventually diversify the two locations’ output, in line with the pair’s long-term vision for their practice. ‘As we progress, our studio is increasingly becoming research-based, so that will likely become our focus in Milan, while Rotterdam might be where more of the designing happens. We are still trying to understand what might make sense,’ adds Trimarchi.

Formafantasma’s Milan studio

A Formafantasma-designed table and ‘Wireline’ chandelier for Flos in the large meeting/dining area are complemented by Gio Ponti’s classic ‘Superleggera’ chairs

The Assab One space is remarkably similar to their previous live/work studio in Amsterdam: industrial, with high ceilings, exposed beams, and natural light flowing from large windows on the ground floor. ‘Once we saw it, it was natural for us to say yes,’ says Farresin. Moving in in summer 2021, they started transforming its 300 sq m of disused space into a functional office. To create the furniture, they called upon DiSé, a manufacturing studio based near Catania, Sicily, that specialises in the production of furniture and bespoke installation, and whose values (ethical, aesthetic and qualitative) are very close to Formafantasma’s own. 

The Milan studio demonstrates the duo’s well-established ability to create holistic, aesthetically pleasing and thoughtful designs. Guests are greeted by their ‘Wireline’ chandelier, hung above a large dining table they also designed. On one side is a vast bookcase with some of their past projects on display. This more intimate living area is loosely separated from the larger office by a cupboard upholstered on one side in Vincent Van Duysen’s ‘Moiré’ textile for Sahco, in a sage green that complements the light maple of the furniture.

A round table, another of the studio’s maple creations, and a ‘ZigZag’ chair, designed in 1934 by Gerrit Rietveld and now produced by Cassina, in the more private mezzanine living area

For the open space, the pair have designed large tables characterised by functional details such as small drawers and a discreet slit in the middle for cables; wall-mounted standing desks; stools in two sizes which are reminiscent of Japanese joinery; and a step stool loosely inspired by Shaker furniture. The pieces’ symmetrical straight lines are softened by rounded corners and angular edges. Everything is impeccably made in maple by DiSé, creating a calming visual consistency despite their distinctive forms. Lamps by Jasper Morrison for Flos are quiet luminal additions, and greenery punctuates the space. ‘We wanted the office to be visually noiseless,’ explains Farresin.

Every piece of furniture will become part of a growing collection, available to order from DiSé and imagined as Formafantasma’s response to the post-COVID workspace. ‘It speaks of the ambivalence between home and office. We wanted to design office furniture, but this office is also a home,’ says Trimarchi.

The studio’s evolution

Houseplants grouped around a ‘Toio’ floor lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos

The Assab One space is a home for the designers and their Italian greyhound Terra, as well as a workspace for their eight-strong team, an international group (a rarity in Milanese studios) whose expertise covers different disciplines, from curation to design and architecture. ‘Our work could be seen as theoretical, but it’s actually extremely imbued in reality,’ says Trimarchi. ‘We aren’t just interested in academic work; we are practitioners, we work with clients to bring radical ideas into a context that is not typically radical – which has been the complicated part, as you have to find the right partners.’ Despite a string of successful collaborations, they admit to inhabiting an awkward space, between a clean approach to design thinking and a clientele who is not always receptive. ‘What we do is sometimes uncomfortable, but also very exciting.’

Projects such as ‘ Cambio ’, a deep dive into the timber industry first presented in 2020, have helped existing and prospective clients understand Formafantasma’s approach and potential. And even though brands still expect new products when approaching the studio, they now often start working with brands from the ground up, investigating their structures to achieve an impact that goes beyond product design.

A model of the 1938 Fiat Tagliero building in Eritrea and a piece from the studio’s  De Natura Fossilium project , based on the culture of lava in Sicily, sit on a wall-mounted desk

Among their projects for 2022 is an exploration of human and animal cohabitation through the topic of wool, to be unveiled at a new exhibition at Oslo’s National Gallery, and an in-depth analysis of Artek’s ecology, begun off the back of ‘Cambio’, which will result in a new iteration of the exhibition at Helsinki’s Design Museum. They have also been tasked with creating the spaces of the Giardini and Arsenale for the upcoming Venice Art Biennale, curated by Cecilia Alemani, and further exhibition designs for Bahrain’s Pearling Path and for the Fondation Cartier’s participation in the Milan Triennale. They are about to unveil a series of interiors for a global fashion retail network, and the design of a farmhouse in Puglia. Their launches at Salone del Mobile 2022 will include an aluminium bookcase for Hem, designs for Cassina and Ginori 1735, and a lamp collection for Maison Matisse.

They aim for their Milanese studio to form part of a hub, a space for discussion and exchange of ideas. ‘Design in Milan is still very traditional,’ admits Trimarchi. ‘There aren’t many places for design debate, like the Triennale , and we hope that Assab One can become a magnet for a new generation of creative thinkers that is not well represented by the city.’

INFORMATION

formafantasma.com assab-one.org

A version of this article appears in the  April 2022 issue of Wallpaper* , on newsstands now and  available to subscribers

Wallpaper* Newsletter

Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

  • Mattia Greghi - Photography

10 colourful hotels to discover in 2024, from dream-like mountain retreats to design-led city escapes, selected by Wallpaper* travel editor Sofia de la Cruz

By Sofia de la Cruz Published 1 January 24

Orient Star, founded in Japan in 1951, manufactures its mechanical timepieces in Akita prefecture

By Robert Johnston Published 1 January 24

Wallpaper* Future Icons: Mexico City-based design studio Panorammma is the practice of 29-year old Maika Palazuelos

By Francesca Perry Published 1 January 24

Cineteca Milano Arlecchino displays 1940s Fornasetti designs originally created for the cinema’s foyer (on view until 29 February 2024)

By Maria Cristina Didero Published 4 November 23

‘Paraventi: Folding Screens from the 17th to 21st Centuries’ is on view at Milan’s Fondazione Prada until 22 February 2024, featuring historical artefacts and new commissions

By Laura May Todd Published 28 October 23

The new Porro showroom opens in a theatrical space in the heart of Milan with an unexpected artistic twist

By Cristina Kiran Piotti Published 20 October 23

The relaunch of Kieffer is the first step in the collaboration between Formafantasma and Rubelli, as the design studio makes its debut as the textile brand’s creative director

By Rosa Bertoli Published 17 October 23

Italian engineer and designer Alberto Meda explores his approach to projects, materials, and sustainability at Milan's Triennale (until 7 January 2024)

By Cristina Kiran Piotti Published 7 October 23

Lake Como Design Festival 2023 (until 24 September 2023) features a series of exhibitions inspired by Pliny the Elder's Natural History

By Maria Cristina Didero Published 20 September 23

Formafantasma engineers Artek furniture for the future with new takes on Alvar Aalto’s ‘Stool 60’ made of wild birch, and a plan to reconnect the Finnish company with the surrounding forests

By Rosa Bertoli Published 8 September 23

Spazio Pesca opens as a multifunctional creative hub with interiors by designers Greta Cevenini

By Rosa Bertoli Published 12 July 23

  • Contact Future's experts
  • Terms and conditions
  • Privacy policy
  • Cookies policy

Wallpaper* is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site . © Future Publishing Limited Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All rights reserved. England and Wales company registration number 2008885.

gabriele milanese formafantasma

IMAGES

  1. "Quercus" Film

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

  2. A miniature constellation of artworks, found objects and documents

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

  3. Formafantasma Creates A Symbol Of Italy’s Rural Past That You Can Sit

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

  4. Formafantasma: Cambio, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

  5. formafantasma creates an encounter with anticipation for LEXUS during

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

  6. studio formafantasma's experiments with light at milan's spazio krizia

    gabriele milanese formafantasma

VIDEO

  1. Una bellissima esperienza!

  2. E voi, siete mai ricorsi alla chirurgia estetica o vorreste farlo? Video completo il 20 ottobre!

  3. Studio Formafantasma

COMMENTS

  1. Studio

    Studio Works Upcoming Formafantasma [ˈɛf-əʊ-ɑːr-ɛm-eɪ-ɛf-eɪ-ɛntiː-eɪ-ɛs-ɛm-eɪ listen], is a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today.

  2. Euroluce: The City of Lights

    Works Upcoming The 2023 edition of Salone del Mobile di Milano sees the return of the lighting biennial Euroluce, named 'The City of Lights'. Formafantasma has been invited to design Aurore, that will host talks and immersiv experiences, 'Costellazioni', seven architectural 'intermezzos' a boo...

  3. FormaFantasma

    Formafantasma is a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today. Whether designing for a client or developing self - initiated projects, the studio applies the same rigorous attention to context, proc...

  4. Formafantasma x Euroluce 2023

    ⁣ Exhibition design by Formafantasma Concept design by Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin Design and development by Gabriele Milanese A visual research and video production by C41.eu

  5. Upcoming

    FORMAƑANTASMA. Studio. Works. Upcoming. Below is a selection of current and future studio activities. A chronological archive of past exhibitions and lectures can be found at the end of the page.

  6. The Milk of Dreams

    The Milk of Dreams is the 59th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia, curated by Cecilia Alemani and designed by Formafantasma. Along with developing the general layout of the exhibition, the studio has designed five historical sections around which the rest of the artworks ...

  7. Formafantasma on GEO-Design and tomorrow's creative leaders

    Formafantasma, as its website describes, is 'a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today'.This mission statement is as ambitious as it gets. But it's apt for a studio that, for over a decade, has constantly pushed the boundaries of design practice and evolved our understanding of the field.

  8. Formafantasma: the Italian design studio loved by Prada, Fendi and

    Adrianna Glaviano. In a semi-industrial neighbourhood in Milan 's north east, Formafantasma has transformed an old warehouse into a tasteful oasis of cool. The studio's cofounders, Simone ...

  9. Formafantasma

    Amsterdam-based design studio Formafantasma stands tall amidst a saturated design world. Beyond a highly-detailed and visually-refined aesthetic is an underlying awareness of the domain's wider ramifications. However, the Italian duo's oeuvre is not mired in literal problem-solving but rather grapples with complex issues on different poetic ...

  10. Formafantasma, research and design of materials

    On the horizon is another collaboration with an important contemporary art gallery, this time it's the Milanese Peep Hole, where in February 2016 Formafantasma will focus on the topic of light. "At this moment it's very attractive to us - they confirm - and for 2017 we also have a project with a company precisely based on this element".

  11. Garden Futures

    Studio Works Upcoming 'Garden Futures. Design with Nature' is an exhibition hosted at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. It focuses on an expansive vision of the Garden, exploring its history, future, and social and cultural influence.

  12. Formafantasma on Instagram: "Euroluce 2023: THE CITY OF LIGHTS

    1,329 likes, 10 comments - Formafantasma (@formafantasma) on Instagram: "Euroluce 2023: THE CITY OF LIGHTS - Costellazioni The 2023 edition of Salone Del Mobile di Milan ...

  13. Formafantasma: "We let the material dictate the final result"

    This is the reasoning of Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi who since 2009 have made up the firm Formafantasma, and who during the most recent edition of the Milanese Design Week were awarded with the "Design Prize" in the "experimentation" category. This way of working is confirmed by their latest two projects which, despite their ...

  14. Kvadrat on LinkedIn: #kvadratcreate #formafantasma #labiennaledivenezia

    Learn more here, https://lnkd.in/gyhHZKQh Photo by Gregorio Gonella and Gabriele Milanese, courtesy La Biennale di Venezia. #kvadratcreate #Formafantasma #LaBiennaleDiVenezia

  15. Euroluce 2023: THE CITY OF LIGHTS

    1K views, 14 likes, 1 comments, 0 shares, Facebook Reels from Studio Formafantasma: Euroluce 2023: THE CITY OF LIGHTS - Aurore The 2023 edition of Salone Del Mobile di Milano sees the return of the...

  16. Mondo Reale: On playfulness, transversality, materiality

    Mondo Reale exhibits seventeen international contemporary artists and the exhibition design was entrusted to the Milanese design studio Formafantasma. Chandès explained: «There are no proper strategies when we develop an exhibition, rather we try to engage with desires and playfulness, that's when the exhibition emerges, along with the work ...

  17. Kvadrat

    Designed by Italian studio Formafantasma, the Time Capsules at La Biennale di Venezia are miniature constellation of artworks, found objects, and documents, clustered together to investigate the...

  18. Formafantasma on Instagram: "Thank you AD for including again the

    1,953 likes, 71 comments - formafantasma on December 6, 2023: "Thank you AD for including again the studio in the 100 AD list ! Thanks to all our collaborators ..." Formafantasma on Instagram: "Thank you AD for including again the studio in the 100 AD list !

  19. Aurore by Formafantasma

    Everything is born of this incandescence. Regardless of a thing's color, smell, or shape—regardless of whether it's marble or clay, milk or rain, wind or clouds in the sky—everything the eye can see is simply an emanation of this same light, which makes sight possible.

  20. Step inside Formafantasma's new Milan studio

    The new Formafantasma Milan office, set in an industrial space within the Assab One cultural complex. Pictured above is the open workspace: most of the furniture in the studio was designed by Formafantasma and made by DiSé, a manufacturing studio based near Catania, using light maple wood (Image credit: Mattia Greghi) By Rosa Bertoli

  21. Press conference Salone del Mobile.Milano 2023

    Simone Farresin shares with us Formafantasma's enthusiastic participation in #euroluce2023 by revealing the details of the project's three main attractions, ...

  22. Formafantasma on Instagram: "Thank you AD for including again the

    Page couldn't load • Instagram. Something went wrong. There's an issue and the page could not be loaded. Reload page. 1,870 likes, 68 comments - formafantasma on December 6, 2023: "Thank you AD for including again the studio in the 100 AD list !