Elegantly intelligent, under the banner of Formafantasma, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin create products that are about rigour of concept as much as beauty of line. Trimarchi, from Sicily, and the Veneto-born Farresin met as undergraduates at the Design Academy Eindhoven, in The Netherlands. They set up their Amsterdam studio soon after graduating in 2009 and quickly made a name for themselves as designers with a unique affinity for both industry and craft and an intriguing approach to design as cultural artefact — not just more inevitable landfill. The New York Times calls them “masters of poetic Minimalism”. While it’s true that Formafantasma’s output is reductive in gesture, there’s a palpable depth that derives from the extensive research effort they expend on each new project. Their De Natural Fossilium collection of 2014, for instance, was an investigation into the very particular conditions of life in the shadow of Sicily’s active volcano, Mount Etna. They saw Etna as “a mine without miners, excavating itself to expose raw materials” from which they created totemic low tables from lava and brass, hand-blown vessels from volcanic glass and fashioned an eerily dark mirror from obsidian. been explored, explains Farresin. Or, where it had been the result was basically ugly, colourful, brash.” ond, WireRing, is made from a customised, fine rectangular rd that passes over a wall-mounted ring containing the LED eductive to the point of disappearing, both WireRing and beguiling in their extreme simplicity, maximising emotional ith minimal means — and zero gimmick. “They’re not ntal in and of themselves but by the shadow they cast, by t,” says Farresin. terest in effect as much as object is what sets their designs also what inspired the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) ission a project from Formafantasma for its inaugural of art and design. Typically complex, the pair decided to e Streams, an intense research project around the recycling of p metals, to sparknewideas about the design andmanufacturing of electronic devices. “Because Australia is one of the few remaining First World countries to still extract resources from the ground, we began by reflecting on the mining industry,” Farresin says. “But then we decided to shift focus to what we call above ground mining, specifically the process of extracting precious minerals from waste.” Such as the gold, silver and copper in mobile phones. ‘Urban mining’ has been going on for almost a decade now, since metal prices skyrocketed post-Global Financial Crisis. What Formafantasma bring to it is a unique, poetic vision and rare talent for conjuring up form from process.
The NGV Triennial runs from December 15, 2017– April 15, 2018. Visit ngv.vic.gov. au; formafantasma.com
clockwise from top right: Formafantasma’s Simone Farresin (left) and Andrea Trimarchi. Blush, an LED strip casting multicoloured reflections. The duo’s WireRing lamp.