Exhibition "Formafantasma: Cambio" in Zurich
Wood samples with special features ETH Zurich, Wood-based materials, 2021, © Umberto Romito and Ivan Suta / Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

Wood has a green image. It is praised as an unproblematic and sustainable material in numerous areas – from pellet heating to paper production and, more recently, even in the construction of high-rise buildings. But wood does not simply come from the forest: it is produced by one of the world’s largest industries, with some of the wood being felled in the most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems on earth. The Italian designer duo Formafantasma (Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi) has investigated the global timber industry and follows paths and traces of the popular material from the globally expanding timber trade in the 19th century to today’s effects on the biosphere of our planet.

Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rebecca Lewin and initiated and organised by London’s Serpentine Galleries, the exhibition Formafantasma: Cambio (the title is derived from the Middle Latin word “cambium” – change, change) makes, as the announcement says, “references to science, technology and politics and appeals to the ecological responsibility of the design discipline with diverse media, objects and analyses”. The show, which will be on display at Zurich’s Museum für Gestaltung until 8 May 2022, focuses on the question of how design can contribute to constructive and environmentally compatible solutions. On display are films, objects, artefacts and material samples, including special furniture made from a single fallen tree, various wood samples, specially developed scents reminiscent of wet earth and the flora of a forest, an entire tree trunk from the immediate vicinity of Zurich, as well as maps of the rainforest created by indigenous communities in the Amazon region. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Serpentine Galleries and Koenig Books and designed by Joost Grootens.

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