The project Botanica was commissioned in 2010 by Plart1, an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the recovery, restoration and conservation of works of art and design produced in plastic. Marco Petroni, the curator of the project, commissioned the studio to create their own personal interpretation of polymeric materials.
Botany, as a discipline, began with the earliest human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest sciences. More than two centuries ago, plants also came to be categorized for their secretions, as a potential raw material.
The objects displayed in the Botanica collection are designed as if the oil – based era, in which we are living, never took place. Almost like historians, Formafantasma investigated the pre – Bakelite period, discovering unexpected textures, sensations and technical possibilities offered by natural polymers extracted from plants or animal – derivatives.
The designers researched and hunted for information, digging into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when scientists began experimenting with draining plants and animals in search for plasticity. Rosin2, Dammar3, Copal4 (a sub-fossil state of amber), Natural Rubber5, Shellac6 (a polymer extracted from insect excrement that colonizes trees) and Bois Durci7 (a nineteenth – century material composed of wood dust and animal blood), are among the materials investigated by the studio. The organic details and plant – like forms of the pieces emphasize the vegetal and animal origins of the resins, while the palette of colours is based on natural amber tones in combination with traditional materials such as wood, ceramic and metal. The natural textures and honey – like colours of the resins are reminiscent of twentieth – century Bakelite objects; however, the finish and details are somewhat archaic yet contemporary. In Botanica, plastics are used as precious details, in an attempt to develop a new post – industrial aesthetic. With Botanica, Formafantasma offers a new perspective on plasticity, reinterpreting centuries – old technology lost beneath the flawless surface of mass production.
Notes, References and External Links1. Plart is an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the recovery, restoration and conservation of works of art and design produced in plastic.
2. Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch (Latin: pix graeca), is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi – transparent and varies in color from yellow to black.
3. Dammar, also called dammar gum, or damar gum, is a resin obtained from the tree family Dipterocarpaceae in India and East Asia, principally those of the genera Shorea or Hopea (synonym Balanocarpus). Most is produced by tapping trees, however, some is collected in fossilised form on the ground. The gum varies in colour from clear to pale yellow, while the fossilised form is grey-brown.
4. Copal is a name given to tree resin, particularly the aromatic resins from the copal tree Protium copal (Burseraceae) used by the cultures of pre – Columbian Mesoamerica as ceremonially burned incense and for other purposes. More generally, the term copal describes resinous substances in an intermediate stage of polymerization and hardening between "gummier" resins and amber.
5. Natural rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, caucho or caoutchouc, as initially produced, consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds, plus water. Thailand and Indonesia are two of the leading rubber producers. Types of polyisoprene that are used as natural rubbers are classified as elastomers.
6. Shellac (/ʃəˈlæk/) is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush – on colorant, food glaze, and wood finish.
7. Bois Durci is a Hard, highly polishable material patented in France and England in 1855 by François Charles Lepage. His composition was made of fine hardwood sawdust mixed with animal blood.
ContributorsCONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
PRODUCTION Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin, Michele Santomarco
CURATED Marco Petroni
PHOTO CREDITS Luisa Zanzani
LiteratureMoMA, Formafantasma est. 2009
The New York Times, Creating Objects to Recall the Past
Dezeen, Botanica by Formafantasma
Artic, Botanica Plastic Eco – Vase
V&A Collections, Botanica
Spike Art Magazine, Studio Formafantasma: The Avant – Garde of a Post-Industrial Aesthetic
Frame, Natural growth – 5 milestones of Formafantasma
Domus, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin present a fascinating tribute to plastic.
Numero, Salon Nomad: FormaFantasma détourne le plastique
The Met, Botanica Big Vase Leaves
Denver Art Museum, Botanica 12
De Volkskrant, Design zonder vorm
Port magazine, Design Focus: Formafantasma
WGSN, Formafantasma Botanica 2011
ICON, Studio FormaFantasma
Museum Den Bosch, Studio Formafantasma, Prima Materia
Abitare, Formafantasma, design and materials
Cooper Hewitt, Botanica
Inhabitat, Formafantasma’s Natural Botanica Vessels Look Like Archaeological Artifacts
Intramuros, Le Portrait de l’année 2017: Formafantasma donner forme
Droog, Reality tank 2014