Design Miami/Basel starts on today, and in addition to the 35 galleries that are displaying contemporary and vintage design, the fair will showcase the Italian fashion house Fendi’s Design Performance program, a live workshop in which designers use discarded Fendi materials in new ways. The Design Performances have been a highlight of Design Miami (and Milan’s design week) since 2009, but this is the first year that the program will be at the fair’s Basel venue. For 2012, Fendi invited Formafantasma, the studio based in the Dutch town of Eindhoven, to create a new group of works that use leather and other natural materials. In their project, which is called Craftica, Formafantasma’s Italian-born partners, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, have combined leather left over from Fendi’s manufacturing process with marble, metal and leather-like materials like cork and fish skin. Among the pieces they have already completed are a table with a brass frame and a marble-weighted leather top, and blown-glass lights that hang on leather straps. The designers see the project as an opportunity to create an “homage to leathers” that celebrates its inherent beauty, according to Farresin. They have also incorporated materials — like bones, shells and other elements — that are discarded from the food industry, to illustrate, as so much of Formafantasma’s work does, the complex relationship between humans and nature. “We wanted to recall the ancestral memories” of these materials, Farresin added, while making something entirely contemporary.
During the Design Performance, he and Trimarchi will work with Fendi artisans to make new pieces in addition to the ones that they have already completed, and look forward to a productive give-and-take. “You always have a lot of time at fairs,” Farresin explained, “and we thought we could use the time to exchange ideas with Fendi’s craftsmen.” The 2012 Fendi Design Performance will take place from June 11 to June 17.