The Eindhoven-based, Italian-born team at Formafantasma tends to design with a methodology that's materials first, form and function later. They've previously explored the possibilities of natural leather and the objects that might populate a world without oil.
Their latest material of choice is basaltic lava. "We are fascinated by the idea of a production process strongly connected to a specific locality," says Andrea Trimarchi. (Simone Farresin is the other designer at Formafantasma.) That location is volcanic Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, which just erupted last November. The pair visited recently, and say it was like "a mine but without miners." So they decided to mine it themselves.
The De Natura Fossilium line includes clocks, tables, stools, glasses, tableware, and textiles. It all has what the two designers call a "Brutalist" edge—that's apt, given that everything has been carved from molten igneous rock. According to Formafantasma, the grainier, more porous basalt was easiest to carve. More difficult was the process of turning lava into glass. They remelted Etna's rocks, then blew them into vessels or cast them into "box-like structures."
"Glass is, nowadays, a perfectly engineered material produced by a few companies all around the globe," Trimarchi tells Co.Design. "Using molten lava felt like going back to the very first moment in which glass has been discovered: it was an unstable and mysterious material."
The De Natura Fossilium pieces are available in a limited edition run, through Gallery Libby Sellers in London.