After this introduction, one could presume that the men behind the studio are Dutch professionals with a passion for Italy, perhaps fascinated by the food and culture which defines the Belpaese.
In reality, Studio Formafantasma is the result of a collaboration between two young Italian designers: Andrea Trimarchi, from Sicily, and Simone Farresin, from Veneto.
The duo met at the University of Florence and together, they sent their portfolio to the Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands, which accepted them as a team.
The pair moved to the Netherlands, where they now live and have quickly become recognised as leaders in international design.
What defines Studio Formafantasma regarding their work method and design is the rigorous investigation of materials in order to design objects that disrupt the historical, political and social status quo.
The project on display at the NGV Triennial draws on this very theme, focusing on materials and their origins; and, in particular, challenges the validity of industrial design and manufacturing systems and standards for electronic devices – products that ultimately become electronic waste – opening up future opportunities for above-ground mining.
In a talk organised by the NGV and mediated by senior curator of the gallery’s Contemporary Design and Architecture Department, Ewan McEoin, Mr Trimarchi and Mr Farresin illustrated how they approached the subject of materials, investigating different aspects surrounding them.
Examples include the extraction of a metal, working conditions, relative economic and political circumstances and historical factors.
One of the first projects they completed together, in 2008, involved studying materials in the everyday objects of ancient Sicily, in which they noticed an African influence on the processing techniques and the choice of elements.
This then made them think about migratory waves and deal with this topic in their final project, presenting a reflection on how history repeats itself.
The duo then began to look at materials in a critical way.
Another of their collections is ‘Botanica’, in which the objects displayed are designed as if the oil-based era the plastic era, in which we are living, never took place.
The pair rediscovered materials used in the 18th and 19th centuries made from natural polymers extracted from plants or animal-derivatives.
‘Ore streams’ is a collection of objects, formally based on commercial office furniture, which have evidently been made from electronic waste and question modernist design objectives, such as standardisation, universal style, efficiency and modularity.
Gold, in particular, is an essential material for the manufacturing of electronics – yet, where the gold is obtained from, is at times unclear.
The rapidly growing trade in electronic waste and the increasing value of the metals it encapsulates creates space for an often murky commodity market rife with illegal activity.
As designers, Mr Trimarchi and Mr Farresin explain that those working in this sector hardly ever take into consideration the source of materials used to develop projects or think about a second life for the products they create.
Studio Formafantasma has exhibited in the likes of New York’s MoMA and London’s Victoria and Albert.
The duo have also collaborated with important names in the fashion industry.
Though they’re now internationally recognised, their passion and love for Italy will never fade.
In fact, they have been heads of the department of Design at the MADE Program in Siracusa, on the southern island of Sicily, since 2016.
The NGV Triennial runs until April 15, leaving plenty of time to admire the work of Studio Formafantasma and other international artists and designers.
To learn more about Studio Formafantasma, visit the duo’s website.