Gallery Libby Sellers, 2011

Colony are a series of mohair wool blankets that celebrates the narrative potential of textiles.
№ – Tripoli.
№ – Tripoli, detail.
Colony takes as a conceptual starting point such geo – political (and highly topical) issues as migration, assimilation and the historical cross – flow of cultural currents between North Africa and Italy. It thus further investigates the concepts presented in Formafantasma’s earlier ceramic series, Moulding Tradition. Each of the blankets, akin to oversized postcards, refers to one of the three major territories that Italy held in North Africa (Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia) until midway the twentieth century.
№ – Tripoli, detail.
The blankets are labeled with reproductions of contemporaneous stamps from Benadir (Somalia), while the woven imagery traces Italian cultural influences on local North African urban planning and architecture. Current data, historical cartographies of migration flows and textual references to the recent treaty between Italy and Libya to stop illegal immigration from Africa to Europe are woven together to create theoretical and visual links between past and contemporary events. The project conceptualizes the complexity of national identity and illustrates how the sense of ‘local’ can be found far from that locality’s national borders. With Colony, Formafantasma uses design as a compass to chart the different meanings of tradition in a global context.
№ – Addis Ababa.
№ – Asmara.
№ – Asmara, detail.
№ – Tripoli, detail.

Notes, References and External Links

– 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 TextielMuseum is a dynamic and creative working museum located in a former textile factory in Tilburg. It is the only place in the world where textile design, art, fashion, industrial heritage, and innovation come together.

– The Second Italo-Ethiopian War, also referred to as the Second Italo – Abyssinian War, was a war of aggression that was fought between Italy and Ethiopia from October 1935 to February 1937. It is seen as an example of the expansionist policy that characterized the Axis powers and the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations before the outbreak of World War II.

– Italian Libya (Italian: Libia Italiana; Arabic: ليبيا الإيطالية‎, Lībyā al – Īṭālīya) was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy located in North Africa, in what is now modern Libya, between 1934 and 1943. It was formed from the Italian colonies of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania that were taken by Italy from the Ottoman Empire in the Italom – Turkish War of 1911 to 1912. They were unified in 1934 by governor Italo Balbo, with Tripoli as the capital.

– Italian Somalia (Italian: Somalia Italiana, Arabic: الصومال الإيطالي‎ Al-Sumal Al – Italiy, Somali: Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy in present – day northeastern, central and southern Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sultanates of Hobyo and Majeerteen in the North, the Hiraab Imamate, and Geledi Sultanate in the South, the territory was acquired in the 1880s by Italy through various treaties.


CONCEPT, DESIGN and DEVELOPMENT Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin
PRODUCTION Textiel Museum Tilburg, Studio Formafantasma, Van Engelen & Evers
PHOTO CREDITS Formafantasma


Designboom, Formafantasma: colony for gallery libby sellers
Jessica Hemmings, Exhibition Review, Studio Formafantasma: The Stranger Within
ICON, Icon Award Winner: Formafantasma, Emerging designer of the year
Abitare, Colony, Formafantasma
The New York Times, Creating Objects to Recall the Past
Wgsn – hbl, Formafantasma at Gallery Libbiy Sellers
Frieze, Studio Formafantasma
Australian design review, In profile: Studio Formafantasma
Cosas, Formafantasma: el arte de destilar las ideas
Fast Company, Blankets (Yes, Blankets) Offer A Glimpse Into Italy’s Reckless Colonial Past
Klat magazine, Formafantasma, Back to the Future
Wallpaper*, Formafantasma at Gallery Libby Sellers, London
Dmh, Utopia of Success
Disegno daily, Gallery Libby Sellers opens a permanent space
[transcript], Design Dispersed: Forms of Migration and Flight