Prada Frames: Materials in Flux

Prada Frames: Materials in Flux

Prada, 2023

Materials in Flux 
A Symposium curated by Formafantasma

Teatro Filodrammatici, Milan
17-18-19 April 2023
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     Prada Frames is a multidisciplinary symposium exploring the complex relationship between design and the environment. 

This year, for it's second edition Prada Frames look into '
Materials in Flux'. The theme is largely based on the research of anthropologist Tim Ingold, who views materials as interconnected, endlessly changing living entities. This year, the symposium investigated the dynamics that regulate waste infrastructure and their value systems, and analysed the complex relationship between materials and ecosystems. Prada Frames took place at the Teatro Filodrammatici, one of the oldest theatres in Milan, located just a short distance from La Scala and Piazza Duomo. 

The sessions are available at
Read the full program below.
№ – Session 1, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Edoardo Kohn
№ – Session 2, Elvira Dyangani Ose and Elizabeth Povinelli
Day 1

Session 1: Conceptualizing
     During Session 1, TIM INGOLD introduced the notion of waste as matter in constant transformation. He also addressed the crucial role anthropology and multidisciplinary can play in our understanding of the topic of this year. ANNA ANGUISSOLA later looked into archeological fieldwork as a site of constant material discoveries. The session ended with a conversation between EDUARDO KOHN and HANS ULRICH OBRIST. The anthropologist explained how to find guidance from the living world around us giving examples from his ongoing collaboration with indigenous leaders.

Contributions by:
- Tim Ingold, Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
- Anna Anguissola, Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Pisa
- Eduardo Kohn, Professor of Anthropology, McGill University
- Hans Ulrich Obrist, Curator, Critic and Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries

Watch the full session here

Session 2: Contextualizing
     During Session 2, JUSTIN McGUIRK, PATRICK O’HARE, and JOSH LEPAWSKY displayed an overview of the current systems and infrastructures that govern global material flows. This later allowed the discussion between ELIZABETH POVINELLI and ELVIRA DYANGANI OSE to highlight larger relational connections between ‘superabundance’, landfills, and repurposing practices.

Contributions by:
Justin McGuirk, Writer, Chief Curator, Design Museum and Director of Future Observatory
- Patrick O'Hare, Senior Researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews
- Josh Lepawsky, Professor of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Elizabeth Povinelli, Artist, Filmmaker and Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
- Elvira Dyngani Ose, Director of The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Watch the full session here
№ – Session 3, Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn
№ – Session 4, Natalia Grabowska and Sumayya Vally
Day 2

Session 3: Designing
     During Session 3, a series of current works that embrace an expansive attitude toward design was showcased. Firstly, FIONA RABY and ANTHONY DUNNE presented their current research on the entanglement of humans and objects. The session continued with the presentation of MICHAEL THOMPSON who looked at cityscapes and value systems attached to waste accumulation. Later, entrepreneur LARA GILMORE introduced her social projects working with food waste. Session 3 ended with the discussion between PAOLA ANTONELLI and ALICE RAWSTHORN highlighting examples of attitudinal design practices that recognize the full potential of each citizen to design with tools, beliefs, and care.

Contributions by:
- Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne, Principals of Dunne & Raby and University Professors, The New School
- Michael Thompson, Emeritus Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
- Lara Gilmore, Co-Founder and President of Food for Soul and Refettorio Project
- 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

Watch the full session here

Session 4: Valuating
     During Session 4, material cycles were explored, ranging from space debris with the presentation of RORY HOLMES to digestive systems with the presentation of LYDIA KALLIPOLITI. Later, the fresh graduates of three international higher education spheres (CAROLIN SCHELKLE, EMMIE MASSIAS, ROCIO CROSETTO BRIZZIO and ANA PAOLA HERNANDEZ DERBEZ) introduced some of their projects looking at the potentialities of sand, wool weaving techniques and interspecies alliances. These cycles highlighted the potentialities of rubbish, turd, dirt, and scrap. The session ends with the conversation between SUMAYYA VALLY and NATALIA GRABOWSKA that delved into the complexities of responsible material extraction and application.

Contributions by:
- Lydia Kallipoliti, Architect, Associate Professor, The Cooper Union and Head Co-Curator of the 2022 Tallinn Architecture Biennale
- Rory Holmes, Managing director UK, ClearSpace SA
- Carolin Schelkle, Product Designer, ECAL Student
- Emmie Massias, Visual Researcher, Geo-Design, DAE Student
- Rocio Crosetto Brizzio, Architect, Co-founder of Balsa Crosetto Piazzi, GSAPP Student
- Ana Paola Hernandez Derbez, Architect, GSAPP Student - Sumayya Vally, Counterspace studio and Honorary Professor, Bartlett School of Architecture
- Natalia Grabowska, Curator at Large of Architecture and Site-specific Projects, Serpentine Galleries

Watch the full session here
№ – Session 6, Mark Wigley Beatriz Colomina
Day 3

Session 5: Governing
     During Session 5, electronic waste sites of accumulation were introduced by the speakers, emphasising several models of production and care across the globe. BLANCA CALLÉN shared her current projects on repair techniques. Later, GRACE AKESE introduced the forces shaping e-waste landscapes. BAS VAN ABEL later highlighted the connections between technology and circular economies. The session ended with a conversation between inventor VEENA SAHAJWALLA and design critic ALICE RAWSTHORN on material flows, waste management, and recirculation.

Contributions by:
- Blanca Callen, Lecturer and Researcher, University of Vic and Co-founder of Restarters BCN
- Grace Akese, Geographer, Research Fellow, African Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth
- Bas Van Abel, Entrepreneur, Designer, Founder of Fairphone and De Clique
- Veena Sahajwalla, Materials Scientist, Director of UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre
- Alice Rawsthorn, Author of Design as an Attitude, co-founder of Design Emergency

Watch the full session here

Session 6: Inhabiting
     During Session 6, the presentations of BEATRIZ COLOMINA and MARK WIGLEY as well as the discussion between SANDRA POULSON and NATALIA GRABOWSKA expanded into the notion of the ‘unwanted’ as a lens to look into wastelands and material flows. The session also looked into interspecies alliances with the fieldwork of SOPHIE CHAO and architectural by-products of material cultures with the work of B+ (ARNO BRANDLHUBER and OLAF GRAWERT).

Contributions by:
- Beatriz Colomina, Professor of History of Architecture, Director Media and Modernity Program, Princeton University
- Mark Wigley, Professor of Architecture, Dean Emeritus of GSAPP, Columbia University
- B+ (Arno Brandlhuber and Olaf Grawert), Architects, Principals at B+
- Sandra Poulson, Artist, Participant in the British Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia 2023
- Natalia Grabowska, Curator at Large of Architecture and Site-specific Projects, Serpentine Galleries
- Sophie Chao, Researcher and Lecturer at Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Watch the full session here
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The interior of the Teatro Filodrammatici was redesigned by architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni in the late 1960s. His work also included working on the imposing entrance staircase and the mosaic floors created with sculptor Fransesco Somaini. For this occasion, Formafantasma developed a subtle set-up across the foyer, bar and stage using a light blue carpet and a selection of furnitures and lamps designed by Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena, the brand he founded in 1947 alongside Ignazio Gardella and Corrado Corradi Dell’Acqua.

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. Teatro Filodrammatici is one of the oldests theater institutions of Milan, northen Italy. The original structure dates back to 1798, designed by the architect Luigi Canonica on designs by Giuseppe Piermarini. It was profoundly remodeled on several occasions, especially in 1904 when it was given its present Art Nouveau forms. 

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, Gregorio Gonella, Sara Barilli
PHOTO CREDITS Jacopo M. Raule, Lorenzo Palizzolo, Pietro S. D'Aprano, Gregorio Gonella, Ibrahim Kombarji


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