issue 8 - memory

Formafantasma for Broken Nature: design takes on human survival

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Through this work Formafantasma reflects on the everyday and its transformations through the study and observation of the society in which we live

Entering the studio of Simone and Andrea located in Amsterdam one has the feeling of entering an ecclesiastical place, a place where faith (understood as passion) and aesthetic taste meet with harmony and discipline. Not only that. Another pleasant sensation from which I have been pervaded is the immediate sensation of research. It’s visible through the metals exhibited on the shelves of their archives, the books, the furnishings, the toothbrush and the beautiful plants that furnish their studio / home.

I will not dwell on their presentation since the Formafantasma duo doesn’t need it. I just limit myself to renewing my invitation to dinner whenever they come back to Milan again 😉 apparently, they don’t trust my kitchen. In all seriousness. It’s worth pausing at Ore Streams, their latest work commissioned by Paola Antonelli for the Broken Nature exhibition: Design Takes on Human Survival on the occasion of the XXII Milan Triennale.

Based on the complicated issue of our electronic waste disposal, the work offers a reflection on the role of design in offering ideas plus solutions that can contribute to the recycling and reuse of such waste.

The research, commissioned in 2017 by the NGV Triennial of Melbourne, has been expanded on the occasion of Broken Nature and consists of objects, documentaries and animations that deal with the subject from different perspectives. Plus a series of interviews with industry professionals and some furnishing chairs made of aluminium, iron and recycled electronic components.

A theme that has always interested Formafantasma. Starting from the assumption that electronic waste is the type of waste that is growing fastest worldwide, and its recycling is still very complex. Ore Streams analyzes these problems and tries to understand what design can do to provide easily recyclable technology.

To date, the percentage of electronic waste properly recycled is only 25%, the remaining part is disposed of in developing countries or taken to landfills. In most European countries there isn’t yet a collection system deployed that divides working and reusable objects from recyclable ones. Ore Streams presents a series of office furniture made from recycled metals and gold-plated details retrieved from computer motherboards. A “restorative” design that could have the ability to improve on-going catastrophic environmental forecasts.

This question is the focus of the entire exhibition, namely the active role that design can play within sustainability. Designers, therefore, are not only “Stylists” or “Aesthetics”, but rather professionals capable of rethinking the systems in place where design could provoke a less conscious attitudinal change towards the consideration of waste not as such but instead as new materials.

Through this work Formafantasma reflects on the everyday and its transformations through the study and observation of the society in which we live, the goal is to project ourselves towards new scenarios not only related to the recycling of electronics but at the same time to the daily use of the same.

Ore Streams tries to face the so-called technological bulimia we face and aims to find new solutions for the recycling of this waste. This is how old computers are reassembled and reinvented in new electronic objects or also in simple furnishing elements. This result is worth more than two years of research, starting by approaching the theme of mineral extraction and then focusing in particular on ground mining (surface extraction), e-waste and the disposal of digital devices. The parable brings to light some of the most neglected and crucial environmental issues of our age, a broken nature, shattered also by the technology that appears to be no longer manageable for human beings.

This story is featured on C41 ISSUE 8 Memory.