Nervi in the making

Nervi in the making

MAXXI, 2019

'Alcantara Studio Visit' is a multi-year project, co – produced by Alcantara1 and MAXXI2 and curated by Domitilla Dardi. Every year a designer is invited to showcase new work based on a study of the MAXXI Museum Archival Collection. Formafantasma was granted access to MAXXI Architecture archives and to conduct research focusing specifically on the Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi3.
№ – Nervi in the making, view of the installation.
The Studio researched the archive of the undisputed master of ferro – cemento (a type of low cost reinforced concrete) to gain an insight into Nervi's favourite material: Concrete. Nervi pioneered concrete after World War II with unparalleled experimentations, best described by him as a versatile and functional material, suitable for use in a wide range of applications. These characteristics also happen to be the distinctive qualities of Alcantara. "Structure – Formafantasma explain – is the keyword and the most important common element between concrete and Alcantara. With his extensive research, trials, tests, and calculations, Nervi demonstrated the impressive buildings that could persist with concrete. We approached Alcantara with a similar spirit and studied its wide-ranging and incredibly versatile applications." The outcome of the Studio research is an "archive of the archive".
№ – Nervi in the making, view of the installation.
№ – Gothic cathedral.
For the exhibition, Formafantasma printed photographs from the archive onto sweeping sheaths of technical performance material Alcantara. Nervi used these images for presentation slides while he was a professor at Rome's Sapienza University and include construction sites, building references and architectural inspiration, from gothic buildings to mineral formations. These prints are hanged on a series of structures built up from work-site scaffolding with the idea of creating a sort of construction site. The images are further divided up into those that illustrate either the skin or framework of a building, demonstrating his enlightened approach to structure and form.
№ – Albergo al Cairo 5. Borel.
№ – Palazzo dello sport – Roma.
The choice to present Nervi's work images only in an unfinished state is to break up the perfection we are used to, leaving more space for interpretation. As an added element, the Studio tracked down a recording of one of Nervi's lectures that had been stashed away for years, which is piped into the gallery from four industrial – style bullhorns.
№ – Installation, detail.
№ – Installation, detail.
№ – Installation, detail.
№ – Nervi in the making, view of the installation.

Notes, References and External Links

1. Alcantara is the brand name of a common synthetic textile material. It has a soft, suede-like microfiber pile and is noted for its durability. Alcantara is commonly seen in automotive applications, as a substitute as a substitute for leather and vinyl in vehicle interior trim.

2. MAXXI (Italian: Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, "national museum of 21st – century arts") is a national museum of contemporary art and architecture in the Flaminio neighborhood of Rome, Italy. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid, and won the Stirling Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2010.

3. Pier Luigi Nervi (21 June 1891 – 9 January 1979) was an Italian engineer and architect. He studied at the University of Bologna graduating in 1913. Nervi taught as a professor of engineering at Rome University from 1946 to 1961 and is known worldwide as a structural engineer and architect and for his innovative use of reinforced concrete.

– FF x MAXXI. Alcantara Studio Visit' is a multi-year project, co – produced by Alcantara and MAXXI and curated by Domitilla Dardi. From Nanda Vigo to Kostantin Grcic, every year a designer is invited to showcase new work based on a study of the MAXXI Museum Archival Collection.


CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT Daniele Misso, Gregorio Gonella


Wallpaper*, The work of Pier Luigi Nervi gets the Formafantasma treatment in Rome
Artribune, Formafantasma e Pier Luigi Nervi. A Roma
Arte, Formafantasma. Nervi in the making
SurfacemagFormafantasma: Nervi in the Making
Living CorrierePier Luigi Nervi: la versione dei Formafantasma
Elledecor, Alcantara come Cemento, Pierluigi Nervi visto dai Formafantasma
Exibart, Formafantasma Loves Nervi, E Alcantara
Il Giornale dell' architettura, “Alcantara – Maxxi”, Formafantasma rilegge Nervi
Designboom, Formafantasma draws parallels between concrete and alcantara at MAXXI exhibition
E-flux, MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts