From May 15th to October 24th 2021, the multidisciplinary exhibition CAMBIO by the duo of Italian designers Studio Formafantasma, at the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato, starting from trees, the wood industry and its path of change, underscores the crucial role and responsibilities of design to generate awareness of the environmental emergency.
The timber industry is one of the largest in the world, both in terms of the corporate revenues involved and in terms of the scale of its impact on everyday life. Clothing, furniture, paper, fuels, fertilizers, are just a few of the thousands of uses that trees are put to, many of which have been felled in some of the most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems in the world. The environment needs the responsibility of design.
The multidisciplinary exhibition CAMBIO by the duo of Italian designers residing in Amsterdam, Studio Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi, 1983 and Simone Farresin, 1980), from 15 May to 24 October 2021 brings a project based on research on the governance of the wood industry to the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato.
CAMBIO – from the medieval Latin cambium – means “change, exchange” and the exhibition underlines the crucial role and responsibility of design with respect to the environment and the need for the discipline to get beyond its boundaries: through a renewed understanding of the philosophy and politics of trees, the world of design for the future can and must attempt to translate emerging environmental awareness with informed, collaborative responses.
The exhibition, first presented and organized by the Serpentine Gallery, was curated in London by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rebecca Lewin, and with Cristiana Perrella at Centro Pecci. It features data and research in the form of interviews, materials for further study and two films made by Formafantasma at the conclusion of their research. The show presents several case studies that provide information on how wood is purchased and utilized in the world. These investigations were carried out in collaboration with experts in the fields of science, engineering, environmental polic and philosophy.
CAMBIO offers reflections on the role of trees as information sources, sensors of global climate changes, but also as a solution for those changes, due to their ability to absorb carbon dioxide. From the microscopic analysis of wood and its characteristics, the interpretation shifts to a metaphysical comprehension of trees as living organisms, capable of acting as a warning for humanity against exploitation of territories and the monocultures that make the Earth more vulnerable to intense weather events.
The exhibition shows rare hardwood specimens displayed for the first time at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and continues with furniture and seating designed by Studio Formafantasma, all made from a single tree uprooted by Vaia, the storm that struck northern Italy in 2018.
In the exhibition in Prato, the reflections arising from the research are also addressed by unusual juxtapositions and impression, such as the long-term focus on trees of the artist Giuseppe Penone. The works on view also include an “olfactory” installation by the smell artist Sissel Tolaas, suggesting the odor of cut wood and the flora of a forest, triggering vivid recollections in the visitor regarding what we will lose if we do not protect the environment and forests.
For the exhibition at Centro Pecci, the museum presents the third edition of the English catalogue published by Koenig Books for the Serpentine Galleries and a new Italian edition of the volume by Nero Editions.
Designed by the studio SJG/Joost Grootens of Amsterdam, in Italian, with a pocket format, the book contains interviews and critical writings on the research conducted by the two designers on the extraction, manufacture and distribution of wood products, and offers original content for an ulterior phase of the investigation conducted in Tuscany.
The volume contains texts and interviews by: Mauro Agnoletti, Jennifer L. Anderson, Paola Antonelli, Emanuele Coccia, Marco Fioravanti, Formafantasma, Lesley Green, Frederic Lens, Rebecca Lewin, Faustino Londoño and Nelson Ortiz, Mark Nesbitt and Caroline Cornish, Philipp Pattberg and Pieter Baas, Giuseppe Penone, Vanessa Richardson, Paulo Tavares.
The exhibition and the book have been produced with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Rome.
Technical sponsors: Campaldino Legnami by Vezzosi s.r.l. and EPSON
Art bonus contribution by Margaritelli Spa – Listone Giordano, Tessilfibre Spa, Fil.pa 1974 Snc.
Andrea Trimarchi (1983) and Simone Farresin (1980) are Studio Formafantasma, a duo of Italian designers based in Amsterdam, Holland. They see their role as a way of bridging crafts, industry, objects, and users, and they are interested in creating connections between their practice based on research and the design industry in the wider sense of the term. As a result, the works of 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 Roma, Gallery Libby Sellers, Established and Sons, Lexus, Krizia International, and Flos. Whether designing for a client or investigating alternative applications of materials, Studio Formafantasma applies the same rigorous attention to context, process, and detail in all projects. The additional aspect, for the duo, is that they do this with an eye on the historical, political and social forces that have shaped their environments. Their works have been shown and published on an international level, and museums like MoMA New York, the Victoria and Albert in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Chicago Art Institute, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, TextielMuseum in Tilburg, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, MUDAC Lausanne, Mint Museum of Craft and Design in North Carolina, MAK Museum di Vienna, Fondation Cartier in Paris, Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Les Arts Décoratifs and CNAP in Paris have all acquired designs by Formafantasma for their permanent collections.