Design Miami / Basel starts on Monday, and for the first time, FENDI is bringing its Design Performance program to it, expanding on the program’s successful ventures in Miami and Milan. Since 2009, the FENDI Design Performances have offered audiences a rare view into designers’ workshops through the use of FENDI discarded materials and live demonstrations of the processes by which exceptional craft-based design work is made. FENDI’s ongoing program emphasizes approaches to production that blend the traditional and the experimental while establishing a new, interactive format for design exhibitions that celebrates the creative process and the key role it plays in shaping the value of finished products.
In line with their previous presentations ‘Craft-Punk’ and ‘Craft Alchemy’, for this year’s project, FENDI has invited Italian design studio Formafantasma to develop ‘Craftica’, a new body of work exploring leathercraft in conversation with other hand-worked, natural materials. Designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma were selected for this project because the young studio has already displayed an exceptional gift for inventive material investigations, as well as a highly refined and seductive aesthetic sensibility.
Craftica is a visual and tactile investigation into leather. The design is driven by the symbolic connotations of leather, a material that, more than any other, represents the complex relationship between humans and nature. Leather as a material has the ability to evoke almost ancestral memories of when nature was hunted to produce food, tools and protection for the body.
Searching underneath and above the sea, from the vegetal to the animal world, the installation offers a holistic view on leather as a material. For the project Formafantasma utilized discarded leather, left over from the FENDI manufacturing processes at the foundation of the collection and drawing on the talent of FENDI’s in-house craftsmen for certain phases of production.
In addition to this, the designers selected a range of leathers obtained form fish skins discarded by the food industry, vegetal processed leather using natural substances from tree bark, cork leather extracted from cork trees leaving them unharmed and a series of animal bladders investigated for their abilities to hold liquids.
Despite the pieces appearing exotic in texture and material combinations, the majority of the leather and material used belongs to the daily. The skins are tanned to maintain their original colors and textures and in most cases obtained from common, ‘unsophisticated’ animals like salmons, trout and pigs. The leathers have been paired with marble, oxidized metal, glass, wood and other unprocessed natural materials such as bones, shells and a sponge cultivated in a sea-farm as a substitute for industrial foam.
The installation displays a large variety of objects ranging from tools to furniture: a collection of glass lights hung via belts and hooks; a table and room divider produced from vegetal tanned rawhide stretched over brass structures with marble weights; a series of four stools characterized by organic forms and fin-like legs upholstered in fish leather (salmon, perch, trout, wolffish); spoons and protective masks made with scallop-shells; and, jar-like containers in glass and cow bladders.
As homage to leather, 28 handmade drawings are displayed on parchment (a strong paper obtained by a complex processing of hairless goat skin) portraying the many uses of leather throughout history.
During the fair in Basel, the designers in collaboration with in-house FENDI craftsmen, will produce and add new pieces to the installation.
Drawings developed in collaboration with designer and illustrator, Francesco Zorzi
Photos by Luisa Zanzani