Prada Frames

Prada Frames

Prada, 2022

On Forest
A Symposium curated by Formafantasma

Biblioteca Braidense, Milan
6-7-8 June 2022
№ – Biblioteca Braidense, Sala 1
Prada Frames is a multidisciplinary symposium that delves into the complex relationship between the natural environment and design. The initiative is a moment of collective reflection that aims at examining and correlating innovative thoughts, while offering a pioneering body of knowledge. The approach taken by Prada Frames is scientific and, at the same time, educational and informative. In line with the progressive and increasingly significant relationship between environmental studies and all fields of knowledge and culture, Prada Frames brings together the valuable contribution of scholars and professionals, such as scientists, architects, designers, artists, activists, anthropologists and law experts. The first edition of the symposium starts from the ecosystem of the forest and the logics that govern the timber industry today, extending this thought to the role of design and science as agents of change.

From June 6th to 8th, in the Biblioteca Braidense  in Milan, Prada Frames presented two sessions per day that include readings, debates, conversations, and video projections.

The session are available at 
Read the full program below.
№ – Session 1, Teresa Castro
№ – Session 2, Amitav Ghosh and Elvira Dyangani Ose
Day 1

 Session 1: Contextualizing
During Session 1, SOPHIE CHAO introduced the forest as a living being, Indigenous philosophies of more-than-human coexistence, and drew on modes of reimagining trees and forests as sentient life communities. TERESA CASTRO later looked into cinematic attempts to engage with more relational modes of perception of the natural environment. CASTRO also introduced the camera as a mediator in the understanding of plants as sentient beings. The session ended with the conversation between EYAL WEIZMAN and REBECCA LEWIN. The architect explained how architectural tools could also be companions for forensic investigations at the service of ecological and social justice.

Contributions by:
- Sophie Chao, researcher and lecturer at Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney
- Teresa Castro, Associate Professor in Film Studies at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris
- Eyal Weizman, architect, founder and director of Forensic Architecture
- Rebecca Lewin, curator of Exhibitions and Design at Serpentine Galleries, London

Watch the full session here

Session 2: Narrating
During Session 2, DAN HANDEL displayed a historical overview of the relationship between humans, forests, and timber. This allowed the panel between PAOLA ANTONELLI, MARIANNE GOEBL and FORMAFANTSMA to highlight local models of production and care in the context of Artek and Finland. The session ended with a discussion between AMITAV GHOSH and ELVIRA DYANGANI OSE presenting an alternative way of narrating the ‘climate crisis’.

Contributions by:
- Dan Handel, writer, curator
- Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator and Director of R&D, MoMA, and co-founder of Design Emergency
- Marianne Goebl, managing director at Artek
- Amitav Ghosh, anthropologist, journalist, award-winning author
- Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Watch the full session here
№ – Session 4, Beatrice Leanza, David Monacchi and Sissel Tolaas
№ – Session 4, Alice Rawsthorn and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Day 2

Session 3: Designing
During Session 3, the works of architects, curators and design students that embrace an expansive attitude toward design were showcased. Firstly, ANDRÉS JAQUE presented his current research on the entanglement of architecture, ecology and politics. Later, the students of GEO-Design (CONOOR COOK, YASSINE BEN ABDELLAH, AYLA KEHKIA) from the Design Academy of Eindhoven introduced some of their projects looking at the gamification of landscape, the forest as a space to hide/find refuge and tracing the journey of a non-human migratory history. The session pursued with the work of ROTOR who introduced the modes of facilitating the circulation if reclaimed building materials. Session 3 ended with the discussion between PAOLA ANTONELLI, ALICE RAWSTHORN and FORMAFANTASMA. There, the design critic, curator and designer highlighted examples of attitudinal design, recognizing the full potential of each citizen to design with tools, beliefs and care.

Contributions by:
- Andrés Jaque, Architect, researcher and curator, founder of Office for Political Innovation, New York and Madrid
- GEO-design students: Ayla Kekhia, Connor Cook, Yassine Ben Abdallah, Designers, GEO-Design, DAE students
- Rotor, Brussels-based Cooperative Design Practice
- Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator and Director of R&D, MoMA, and co-founder of Design Emergency
- Alice Rawsthorn, Author of Design as an Attitude, co-founder of Design Emergency, with Formafantasma

Watch the full session here

Session 4: Sensing
During Session 4, the opening panel with SISSEL TOLAAS, DAVID MONACCHI and BEATRICE LEANZA addressed different modes of sensing the forest through smell and sound. Later on, VALERIE TROUET introduced the anatomy of wood as a way to sense the forest alternatively. TROUET introduced dendrochronology as a way to use the rings in trees and wood to study human, climate and forest history. The session continued with GERALD KOCH who highlighted the importance of dealing with Illegal logging through wood anatomy. The session ended with the complexity of designing with more-than-human species with the work of ALEXANDRA DAISY GINSBERG in conversation with ALICE RAWSTHORN.

Contributions by:
- Sissel Tolaas, Smell researcher and artist
- David Monacchi, Eco-acoustics researcher, composer, founder of the project Fragments of Extinction
- Beatrice Leanza, Cultural strategist, critic, curator
- Valerie Trouet, Professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, USA
- Gerald Koch, Wood anatomist at Thuenen-Institute of Wood Research, Hamburg, with Formafantasma
- Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Artist, writer, curator, with Alice Rawsthorn, Author of Design as an Attitude, co-founder of Design Emergency

Watch the full session here
№ – Session 5, Paulo Tavares
№ – Session 6, Anna Tsing, Feifei Zhou and Aric Chen
Day 3

Session 5: Governing
During Session 5, STEFANO BOERI introduced current projects as ways of understanding wood as carbon storage. Later, PHILIPP PATTBERG AND NIKLAS KASKEALA WITH FORMAFANTASMA highlighted the criticalities connected to carbon offsetting, the governance of natural ecosystems and the political forces shaping forests. The session ended with the conversation between PAULO TAVARES and BEATRICE LEANZA that explored the challenges of the liminal relations between natural and cultural landscapes and the political forces that shape forests.

Contributions by:
- Stefano Boeri, Architect, urban planner, Full Professor at Politecnico di Milano
- Philipp Pattberg, Sustainability scientist at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
- Niklas Kaskeala, Chief Impact Officer at Compensate
- Paulo Tavares, Architect, writer
- Beatrice Leanza, Cultural strategist, critic, curator

Watch the full session here

Session 6: Inhabiting
During Session 6, URSULA BIEMAN introduced forestal indigenous knowledge and current explorations in the Amazon forest. Later, CAVE BUREAU looked at the different meanings the forest has been and continues to be from our ancestral past into our generational future. The session continued with the presentation by the founders of E-WERK LUCKENWALDE showcasing their sustainable sourcing model. The symposium ended with the discussion between ANNA TSING, FEIFEI ZHOU and ARIC CHEN presenting the work of the Feral Atlas and showing how the attention to phantasmic forms, across scales, brings humans into both the life and death of the forest.

Contributions by:
- Ursula Biemann, Artist, writer and video essayist
- Cave Bureau, Architecture practice based in Nairobi, Kenya
- E-WERK Luckenwalde, Kunststrom renewable power station and art centre
- Anna Tsing, Anthropologist at University of California, USA, co-editor of "Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene”
- Feifei Zhou, Spatial and visual designer, co-editor of "Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene"
- Aric Chen, General and Artistic Director of Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

Watch the full session here
№ – Biblioteca Braidense, entrance
The first edition of Prada Frames took place at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Pinacoteca di Brera. Located in the heart of Milan, this public library made of walnut wood is an important site of knowledge production in the city. The library founded in 1770 by Empress Maria Teresa is home to an extensive collection of over 1,500,000 manuscripts, incunables, periodicals, and autographs making it the third largest library in Italy in terms of book heritage.

As an extension to the symposium and in close collaboration with the curators of the Braidense library, a selection of historical books dedicated to the vegetal world has been on display in the vitrines at the entrance. A short film was projected during the symposium, displaying the ’Dendrografia insubrica’, an archive of all the types of wood in the region of Lombardia done in 1793 by Carlo Somaschi.

In line with the idea of prioritizing the content over the product, the set-up was deliberately reduced to the bare minimum given the uniqueness of the location: wooden chairs from the Prada Archive were repurposed and paired with a curatedselection of iconic wooden chairs by Gio Ponti, Franco Albini and Gerrit T. Rietveld, among others, kindly made available by the Italian contemporary design brand Cassina.
№ Dendografia, 3'37" - Formafantasma, Prada Frames - 2022

Notes, References and External Links

1. Prada is an Italian luxury fashion house that was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. It specializes in leather handbags, travel accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes and other fashion accessories.

2. Biblioteca Braidense usually known as the Biblioteca di Brera, is a public library in Milan, in northern Italy. It is one of the largest libraries in Italy. Initially it contained large historical and scientific collections before it was charged with the legal deposit of all publications from Milan. Since 1880, it has had the status of a national library and is today one of the 47 Italian State libraries.

3. Salone del Mobile launched in Milan in 1961 as a vehicle for promoting Italian exports of furnishing and accessories, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the global benchmark event for the furnishing and design sector.


CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
DEVELOPMENT Ibrahim Kombarji, Carlotta Trevaini, Gregorio Gonella
PHOTO CREDITS Jacopo M. Raule, Lorenzo Palizzolo, Pietro S. D'Aprano, Gregorio Gonella


Wallpaper, Prada and Formafantasma announce Milan Design Week symposium
, Formafantasma's Prada Frames symposium to contemplate forest ecologies in Milan
Linkiesta, Il ruolo riconciliatorio del design durante la crisi climatica