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Formafantasma Creates A Symbol Of Italy’s Rural Past That You Can Sit On

Holland-based Italian designers Studio Formafantasma pack key chapters of Italian history — from cereal farming to the WWII resistance movement — into a single chair.

Formafantasma Creates A Symbol Of Italy’s Rural Past That You Can Sit On

Designers love to say that their furniture “tells a story.” Italian designers Studio Formafantasma take that one giant step further with Domestica, a chair commissioned by the Dilmos Gallery that tells the history of their nation.

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Not the entire history, of course. (We’d hate to think what this thing would look like with a chapter on Berlusconi.) Instead, the designers evoke key chapters of the Italian experience, from its rural past to revolutionary heroics during World War II, by creating a nest-like chair out of a traditional Gerla basket. They explain:

[T]he Gerla Basket [is] a container usually used by farmers to collect harvested cereals and transported as a bag-pack. In some region of north of Italy, the Gerla basket has in time assumed other connotations and it is often considered as a symbol of the Italian resistance movement during World War II.

Apparently, women used the baskets to bring food and ammo to partisan forces formed by pro-Allies Italians. (To hammer home the military reference here, Studio Formafantasma stitched a little Italian flag onto a green wool blanket that doubles as the chair’s headrest.)

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Women used the baskets to bring ammo to partisan forces.

By now you’re probably wondering: Does this thing even work? If you fill up the basket, won’t the rest topple over? And doesn’t that make for a horrible chair? Well, sure. But that’s not the point. Studio Formafantasma have earned their star toiling away in the murky zone between design (stuff that works) and art (stuff that doesn’t work). What their design objects do matters less than what they mean. Domestica is no different. “The design of the object and its undefined functionality invites the user to invent new gestures and rituals,” they say. “Such rituals are stimulated by ancient memories evoked by the familiarity of an object rooted in tradition.” Which is an arty way of saying that the chair does more than tell the story of Italy. It tells any story you want it to tell.

[Images courtesy of Studio Formafantasma]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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