Three questions to Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin
During the Milan Design Week we met Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi or Studio Formafantasma, a duo of Italian designers based in Amsterdam. With them we talked about teaching and their experience at the MADE Program in Siracusa.
How do you view lifelong learning, informal learning?
(Simone Farresin - SF) I will reply in a way that is is similar to what we do in our practice: when talking about learning I believe that our profession as designer is the best tool for an endless education. Somehow I think that the designer, more than other careers, is an eternal amateur. We continually ponder about what we do as we often have to develop multiple projects of different kind. I believe that working is the best way of learning. When work doesn't leave you feeling alienated, when it is not "labour" but enriches you with new skills, this is when learning happens. Continuous learning adds value and dignity to what we do. It also helps developing a mindset based on critical thinking to deal with complexity when approaching an assignment.
(Andrea Trimarchi - AT) I think that design as discipline needs constant learning. Sometimes, in our daily work activity, we don't have the necessary skills to accomplish an assignment and we have to learn them in any case, so actually we never stop learning!
Would you tell us about your experience as Head of the Design Department at MADE Program in Siracusa, an art school in Sicily, and the way you relate to its context?
AT - The school has just opened and we have high expectations about it, at the moment we are working on the context and we are preparing ground for local students and the few local companies to get involved, before accepting applications from people from other parts of Italy or abroad.
For instance, the participants to last year's Summer School, came from all over the world but no one was from Sicily! At the same time it was important for us to involve local craftsmen in the school in order to show what was possible to achieve in that place.
SF - We had some kinds of expectations for the curriculum, but as soon as we started working there, we felt that we had to set aside our expectations and our egos and to focus on what was really needed in that context. For instance, it would have been easier teaching in a master degree, and gathering international practitioners since we have a foreign-based practice.
At the moment, as an approved bachelor degree, the school has a traditional curriculum, which means that we cannot give it the direction we want but we have to cope with university's bureaucracy.
At the same time, this limit is also a resource for all the young people that cannot afford to leave Sicily for their studies. In my opinion it is important to have both long-term and short-term goals, to understand the place's limits and resources and let things develop according to their nature and to what the context needs.
AT- For me, being also from Sicily, one of the biggest achievement would be to create a generation of designers willing to base their practice in their region. This also means that one has to deal with bureaucracy and local political apparatus, but it has to be done.
Your background is in product design, but have you ever considered working on public space? What is your idea of public space?
SF - We have never dealt with public space related project, but in my point of view, public space works when, even on a dimensional level, there is a very good proportion between built architecture and outdoor space in order to create a correct level of intimacy. A good example is the Garbatella neighborhood in Rome, that employs a series of strategies in the design of the architecture of the public space that results in a good level of intimacy for people's interaction.