Botanica series by duo Formafantasma is a great example how much timeless a design concept can be and still be relevant a few years later.
With this project, that dates back to 2016, Formafantasma wanted to offer a new perspective on plastic materials and investigate how objects could be if our current oil-based era never took place. As the concern for the planet status caused by human impact keeps growing, we have seen an increasing number of designers focusing on new materials able to make a difference to today’s waste problem. The Botanica collection by Formafantasma stood as a great example of this matter back in 2011.
The project Botanica was commissioned by Maria Pia Incutti, founder of Plart, an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the recovery, restoration and conservation of works of art and design produced in plastic. Incutti, alongside with curator Marco Petroni invited Formafantasma to envision their personal take of polymeric materials and explore their origins.
Almost like historians, studio Formafantasma investigated the pre-Bakelite period, discovering unexpected textures, sensations and technical possibilities offered by natural polymers extracted from plants or animal-derivatives. The designers researched and hunted for information, digging into the 18th and 19th centuries, when scientists began experimenting with draining plants and animals in search for plasticity.
Trimarchi and Farresin explored a series of material such as natural rubber, Copal (a sub-fossil state of amber), Shellac ( a polymer extracted from insect excrement that colonize trees) and Bois Durci (a 19th-century material composed of wood dust and animal blood). The organic details and plant-like forms of the pieces emphasize the vegetal and animal origins of the resins, while the palette of colors is based on natural amber tones in combination with traditional materials such as wood, ceramic and metal.
Their vision of possible alternatives of materiality is still relevant today as it is their sensibility towards an art-bond materiality and a texture able to awake our need of tactility. You can have a look at the most recent research in this field here.