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FormaFantasma's ‘La Casa Dentro’ navigates individual identity and collective memory
Chair 1 and Chair 2 by Formafantasma as part of their La Casa Dentro exhibition
Image: Andrea Rossetti and Marco Cappelletti

FormaFantasma's ‘La Casa Dentro’ navigates individual identity and collective memory

On view at the Fondazione ICA Milano, the design exhibition critiques biases in modernist design, blending childhood memories with sleek modern aesthetics.

by Ria Jha
Published on : May 13, 2024

Utilising their designs as a medium of self-expression, designers often delve into the intricacies of individual experiences, cultural backgrounds, and societal narratives, seeking to capture the essence of what it means to be human. Designers weave together strands of memory, tradition, and emotion through product design, visual arts, architecture, fashion, and multimedia installations to create narratives that speak to people on a personal and a collective level. Inspired by the themes of individual identity and collective memory, Milan-based design duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Studio FormaFantasma unveiled their most recent exhibition titled La Casa Dentro (The Home Within), which opened during Milan Design Week 2024 at the Fondazione ICA Milano and is on view until July 19, 2024.

Curated by Alberto Salvadori, the exhibition offers a provocative analysis of the accepted canons of Modernism by exploring the movement's ingrained gender prejudices and traditional ideas of masculinity. Using a critical eye, the lighting and furniture design on display examine the dominant conventions and philosophies that have influenced the conversation around modernist architecture and design, highlighting its exclusionary and patriarchal roots. Through this critical engagement with Modernism, La Casa Dentro serves as a vital platform for fostering dialogue and reflection on issues of gender, identity, and representation within the realm of architecture and design.

“Early 20th century modernism emerged in tandem with industrial advancements and as a critique of the 'effeminate' characteristics of eclecticism in the 19th century. Architects such as Adolf Loos and Henry van de Velde advocated for simplicity, authenticity, and integrity, contrasting these sober, rational and ‘virile’ qualities with the sentimentality and ornamentation associated with previous styles,” the furniture designers share. FormaFantasma’s work departs from a staple of Modernist furniture to precisely analyse the relationship between the lived experience of domesticity and the academic knowledge of Modernist ideologies of architecture and design.

La Casa Dentro combines sentimental recollections with a sophisticated understanding of architecture and design. This hybridised idea is not just theoretical; it is viscerally present in the collection, consisting of furniture and lighting designs. The collection comprises lamp designs, chair designs and a table design typified by sleek curved steel and stark hardwood planks adorned with hand embroideries, painted floral patterns, and silk ruffles, referencing the designers’ childhood memories of home.

Nestled at the nexus of artistic expression and critical analysis, La Casa Dentro contemplates the complex relationship between personal history and broader cultural discourse. The exhibition reimagines traditional narratives within the dynamic landscape of contemporary design. FormaFantasma questions preconceived notions through this immersive experience, causing one to reevaluate the connection between the domestic environment, personal identity, and societal constructs. La Casa Dentro becomes more than just an exhibit of inanimate pieces of lighting and furniture pieces; it serves as a stimulus for in-depth thought and discussion on the changing influence of design on how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

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