Moulding Tradition

Moulding Tradition

Gallery Libby Sellers, 2010

Moulding Tradition centers on the geo – political (and pertinent) issues of immigration, assimilation, and the historical cross – flow of cultural currents between North Africa and Italy.
№ – Moulding Tradition, view of the Collection.
Moulding Tradition is informed by the ongoing Sicilian ceramic tradition of Teste di Moro: copies of seventeenth – century vases from Caltagirone1 in Sicily that portray a grotesque Moorish face. The tradition refers to an earlier era in Sicily’s history when the Moorish invasion of the area introduced majolica ceramics to Europe.
№ – Flask.
№ – Flask.
Over ten centuries later, the same people that once occupied Sicily, bringing their cultural heritage that helped make Caltagirone famous, are returning – not as conquerors but as immigrants. Recent public opinion polls have claimed that 65% of Italians believe that the immigrants are ‘a danger for our culture’. Through Moulding Tradition, Formafantasma documents these contradictions while questioning attitudes towards immigration, national identity and the tendency of craft to perpetuate the past mindlessly.
№ – Moor vase.
№ – Moor vase.
№ – Wine bottle.
№ – Wine bottle.
Each object speaks to some aspect of the immigrant experience – wine bottles recall the fruit in Sicily harvested by migrants and bowls represent the boats conveying refugees across the Mediterranean. The result is a collection of refined ceramic vessels garlanded with portraits of an émigré, buoy – like discs engraved with the percentage of refugees who immigrate per year, and ribbons woven with news reports on illegal immigration published during the project’s production period.
№ – The harbour.
№ – The harbour.

Notes, References and External Links

1. Caltagirone (Italian: [kaltadʒiˈroːne] is an inland city and comune in the Metropolitan City of Catania, on the island (and region) of Sicily The town is a production center of pottery, particularly maiolica and terra – cotta wares. 

Libby Sellers is a design historian, consultant, curator, and writer. She was a former curator at the Design Museum, London and supported concept – led design through her eponymous gallery for nearly 10 years.

– The Emirate of Sicily (Arabic: إِمَارَة صِقِلِّيَة‎, romanized: ʾImārat Ṣiqilliya) was an Islamic kingdom that ruled the island of Sicily from 831 to 1091. Its capital was Palermo (Arabic: Bal'harm), which during this period became a major cultural and political center of the Muslim world.

– Joint report from the Ministry of Health, Italy and the WHO Regional Office for Europe mission of 28 – 29 March 2011.

– Lampedusa. Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa, the European territory closest to Libya, has become a prime transit point for illegal migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe.

– Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) in The Netherlands, is one of the world’s leading design schools, recognized internationally for its forward – thinking and renowned professors and alumni.


CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin, Van Engelen & Evers


Yatzer, The Molding tradition of Formafantasma
Frame, Formafantasma tracks the evolution of its craft – centric design approach
Sight Unseen, The making of Moulding Tradition by Formafantasma
Frieze, Studio Formafantasma
Explore – vc, Moulding Tradition
Australian design review, In profile: Studio Formafantasma
Volkskrant, Design zonder vorm
Polpettas, In Conversation with Studio Formafantasma 
ICON, Studio FormaFantasma
Dmh MagazineUtopia of Success
Wallpaper*, Formafantasma at Gallery Libby Sellers, London
Klatmagazine, Formafantasma back to the future
Fast Company, Blankets (Yes, Blankets) Offer A Glimpse Into Italy’s Reckless Colonial Past
Disegno daily, Gallery Libby Sellers opens a permanent space
[transcript], Design Dispersed: Forms of Migration and Flight
NumeroLe duo Formafantasma repense la forêt à la Serpentine Gallery