Luxury fashion house PRADA has introduced the Frames, a multidisciplinary symposium that delves into the complex relationship between the natural environment and design. The symposium is curated by Formafantasma, a research and design studio based in Milan and Rotterdam. It focuses on design’s historical, political and social implications and applies critical approach to materials and their use in production processes. Prada Frames was held in Milan, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, from 6th to 8th of June, and it contained 6 sessions of talks: contextualazing, narrating, designing, sensing, governing and inhabiting.
The visual identity of Prada Frames, also by Formafantasma, is produced by manipulating a Lidar scan of an oak forest. Lidar is a laser technology used to scan objects of any kind to have a digital version of the original. It is also used in forestry to select what trees to cut. Lidar technology gives the illusion of knowledge, while what is shown is only the surface of trees, it is a ghostly representation. The aim of the symposium is to go deeper and beyond the visible, to understand the complex entanglements between design and the natural environment. – from Prada
The first day of the symposium featured two sessions: contextualizing and narrating. For the first session, contributors Sophie Chao, Teresa Castro, Eyal Weizman and Rebecca Lewin described the forest as a living being, presented the cinematic attempts of engaging with natural environment, introduced the camera as a mediator, and discussed how architectural tools could also be companions for forensic investigations at the service of ecological and social justice.
During the second session, writer and curator Dan Handel presented an overview of the relationship between humans, forests and timber, which then allowed Paola Antonelli, Marianne Goebl and Formafantasma to highlight local models of production and care in the context of Artek and Finland. Ending the session were Amitav Gosh and Elvira Dyangani Ose introducing a new way of narrating the ‘ climate crisis’.
The second day started with designing session presenting the works fo architects, curators and design students. First off was Andres Jaque, later the students of Geo-Design form the Design Academy of Eindhoven. Brussels-based Cooperative Design Practice Rotor then presented the modes of facilitating the circulation if reclaimed building materials. The session ended with the conversation between Paola Antonelli, Alice Rawsthorn and Formafantasma about the attitudinal design.
The sesnisng session began with an opening panel by Sissel Tolaas, David Monacchi and Beatrice Leanza. Later on Valerie Trouet introduced the anatomy of wood as a way of sensing the forest and Gerald Koch wjo highlighted the importance of dealing with illegal logging. 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.
The final day of the symposium started with governing session where Stefano Boeri introduced current projects as ways of understanding wood as a carbon storage. Highlighting the criticalities connected to carbon offsetting, the governance of natural ecosystems and the political forces shaping forests were Philipp Pattberg and Niklas Kaskeala with Formafantasma. 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.
Ending the symposium were Ursula Bieman who introduced the forestal indigenous knowledge and current explorations in the Amazon forest, Cave Bureau who presented diffrent meanings of the forest, founders of E-Werk Luckenwalde who showcased their sustainable sourcing model and Anna Tsing, Feifei Zhou and Aric Chen who ended the symposium with the conversation about 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.
You can watch the complete recording of the PRADA FRAMES: On Forest on prada.com