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Formafantasma symposium: Learning With

25 October 2022

9 minutes min. to read

Andrea Trimarchi & Simone Farresin (Formafantasma), being interviewed by Rebecca Lewin (Design Museum in London) ©
Dutch Design Week ambassadors Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin (Formafantasma) celebrated the art of learning by putting forward some of the first graduates from GEO—DESIGN Department (Design Academy Eindhoven) for their symposium Learning With.
Simone Farresin & Andrea Trimarchi ©

The design duo was interviewed by Rebecca Lewin (senior curator at the Design Museum in London) on their role as ambassadors, learning from students and their Formafantasma practice.

Rebecca: How do you learn yourselves?
Simone Farresin: “As ambassadors, we celebrate the years we spend here, but also the achievements of the first group of graduates at GEO—DESIGN. There are questions we just cannot solve as designers within an individual practice.”
Andrea Trimarchi: “The act of learning is very important. You always learn with someone; the interaction with others is crucial to the learning process.”
Simone: “When we think about individual programmes, we have expectations and ideas about where we want to take things as head of the GEO—DESIGN. Design Academy Eindhoven is obviously centering around the students, but they steer us as well: they shape how the department is developing almost as much as we do. The relevance of their work is welcomed and valued in our department.”

‘We should embrace the monsters we create and find ways to work with them’

- Simone Farresin

Rebecca: What have you learned in your practice?
Andrea: “We established a very precise way of working. Briefs from clients can be superficial; that does not work for us. Our Cambio project made clear that we are interested in research and helped companies value our research approach.
Simone: “Artek was very interesting, because they are one of very few companies who have direct connection to harvesting trees. And that is exactly what we need: direct access to all levels of a company, from tactics to distribution. Artek is open to embracing new perspectives. For example: insects that attack trees in plantations – which they are in Finland right now – cause the quality of the wood to diminish. Or we can accept these flaws and not see it as less valuable because of them. If the aesthetic changes due to our choices, we should work with the problem. We should embrace the monsters we create and find ways to work with them.”

‘We need to create an army of people who want to keep learning’

- Andrea Trimarchi

Rebecca: Why is education such a big part of what you do?
Andrea: “Because we all need it. We need to educate ourselves; we need to educate our clients and we teach our students at DAE.”
Simone: “We feel this is necessary, because as a designer you are exposed to questions bigger than your own generation.”
Andrea: “We learn from each other constantly. Sometimes you are more evolved than the client you are working with, sometimes it is the other way around. We need to create a culture of learning, an army of people who want to keep learning.”
Simone: “We studied in The Netherlands, but live in Italy; where we have a history full of people who were great thinkers, but terrible at working with others. I don’t want to be that kind of person. We believe you need to hand it over and move on.”


Formafantasma invited four of the graduates from GEO—DESIGN as their keynote speakers, handing them the stage to present their remarkable, confrontational and inspiring views:

Gudrun Eriksen Havsteen Mikkelsen

Gudrun Havsteen-Mikkelsen investigates with her camera the predictions, promises, and paradoxes of mineral exploration and exploitation when different actors attempt to establish Greenland as a mining nation. In the role of a visual journalist, Gudrun traces the political tensions in the ‘race for resources.’

“The need for metals and materials is growing, but stressed by geo-politics and conflicts such as climate change, the safety of states and our economy. Greenland has all the elements and contains a lot of the minerals that have allowed mankind to prosper. It is a new sort of Gold Fever. With Promises for Business I aimed to create a counter narrative to respond to the top down promises of the government. This led to collaborations with mining companies – a rather well-known shady industry – and allowed me to witness this race for resources from within.”

Learn more about Promises for Business: on show at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin:

Tuesday 25 October, 17.35
Wednesday 26 October, 13.35
Thursday 27 October, 11.50
Friday 28 October, 15.05
Saturday 29 October, 13.00
Sunday 30 October, 16.30

Elsa Casanova Sampé

Despite signs of waning popularity, bullfighting still exists in the collective imagination as an enduring, if stereotypical, representation of Spanish culture. Through seemingly mundane and banal devices, Elsa Casanova Sampé explores the mechanisms that instrumentalise and fetishise the narratives of this niche spectacle in Who Cares About Bullfighting?, a live-streamed performance.

“More than seventy percent of Spanish people don’t care about this activity, but that does not effectively change the images akin to bullfighting. It is a narrative that is linked to the Franco regime, as a symbol for traditional life in Spain. Right wing parties continue to use these seemingly nostalgic images as props for their political speeches. You can also see an aesthetic appropriation trend amongst Spanish artists, such as Samantha Hudson and Chanel. Objects can have very different meanings, depending on how they are used. My performance deconstructs the gestures, rituals, images, and environments making up this practice.”

Learn more about Who Cares About Bullfighting? Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.

Yassine Ben Abdollah

The history and culture of the oppressed are rarely embodied in material objects. With Bittersweet memories of the colony Yassine Ben Abdallah investigates the disappearance of archival materials regarding the enslaved and indentured labourers of the sugar plantations of La Réunion.

“Let’s talk about colonial wounds in this post-colonial society. I want to give a voice, and a taste, smell and feel to colonial life. The culture of La Réunion derives from a system of extraction and violence. This shapes the everyday landscape people see and recognise themselves in. In the Plantation Museum of La Réunion not a single chain or machete can be found: all the objects in there were owned by the masters. The enslaved labourers have been erased from visual memory. It shows how museums are not neutral spaces, they build normative narratives. But everything passes, except for the past.”

Learn more about Bittersweet memories of the colony at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.

Connor Cook

Dance Dance Revolution is an arcade game that challenges players to dance in time with rhythmic cues on screen. Recently, a group of dancer-hackers reworked the game to run faster and longer than ever before. To succeed, they must remain entirely still save the rapid micro-movements of the feet. With At the Function (I Shake my Ass) Connor Cook views the optimised movements of the dancers as an allegory for contemporary technoculture under capitalism, organised around efficiency, standardisation and submission. 

“I am interested in tracing the genealogy and evolution of technology. Looking at this development, there is a lot to unpack about that. In this very niche example, I tried to read what is going in. It is focused on optimization, always going faster, tracking everything and  the status that comes with high performance: all dominant trades under capitalist relations. Then I started looking for a more playful perspective, so I took all of the characters, lyrics, songs, aesthetics and reworked them with my body, trying to counter the super speed focused, non-normative approaches in relation to the machine."

Learn more about At the Function (I Shake my Ass): Connor Cook is performing daily at 16.35 at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.


Talk: Pedagogies of the Sea

Pedagogies of the Sea is a design-research course (curated by Angela Rui) at the GEO—DESIGN master programme. By using storytelling as a method, during an entire afternoon, various students of the course hacked the curator’s exhibition AQUARIA – Or the Illusion of a Boxed Sea at the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (MAAT, Lisbon) and performed through different formats and media. In a talk show setting, Simone Farresin interviewed three of the graduates about their interventions.  

Simone Farresin interviewed three participating students: Claudia Paredes Intriago, Stefano Fusani and Emmie Massias. Simone introduced the course as not departing from a design question or problem to be solved: “A hierarchy like the ocean can be seen as a place we can learn from.”

Neo Coolers caps of a body of work Claudia Paredes Intriago developed at the European Ceramic Workcentre in Oisterwijk, exploring the use of clay, and thus of water, to refrigerate spaces of resistance without consuming natural resources.

Learn more about Claudia Paredes Intriago’s project Neo Coolers at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.

The promise of hydroelectric power as a renewable and cost-efficient resource obscures the loopholes within the Mekong River’s international water management policies. Through a performative installation, Emmie Massias reveals the geopolitical dominance of the hydropower dam as a border of conquest and control over shared water resources. 

Learn more about Emmie Massias’ project Requim For A River at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.}

Home to the largest concentration of greenhouses in Europe, in Almería roughly 20% of the population are undocumented migrant workers living in the region’s slum areas. If You Work for a Living is a film that considers the current industrial heritage of the region through its past, as a backdrop in cinematic westerns. 

Learn more about Stefano Fusani’s project If You Work for a Living at the Graduation Show of Design Academy Eindhoven in Microtuin.

Formafantasma invites you to learn more: please take your time to visit these and many more graduates of Design Academy Eindhoven.