Eindhoven-based Studio Formafantasma, composed of the Italian design duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, has turned its talent to the humble tap-water filter. (Brita filters are practical and all, but they’re not exactly beautiful.)
The result is Still, which Trimarchi and Farresin developed for the renowned Viennese glassware company J. & L. Lobmeyr, founded in 1823. In a tribute to the Lobmeyr tradition, the designers included in the collection two customized versions of the Candy Dish designed by Oswald Haerdtl for the company in 1925, now to be used as containers for “activated charcoal.”
What’s that, you wonder? Activated charcoal, or carbon, has been used as a purifying substance for centuries. By nature, it is microporous, which means it’s highly absorptive. The charcoal element builds off the design duo’s investigation into water filtration that began with their 2012 project, Charcoal. In that collection, they burnt wood into sculptural shapes, which they placed inside hand-blown glass containers–to be used as natural filtering devices.
This collection, Still, is gorgeously sleek. But if you’re the type to just, you know, pour yourself a glass of water fast, you have a problem. Formafantasma wants you to take your time. (It’s a good idea, isn’t it?) They use engraved crystal, copper, and activated charcoal–to look good and to improve the taste of your (dull and mediocre-tasting) water. You use beaker-like vessels in the water purification process itself, and the ritualistic feel of it resembles, to some extent, a Japanese tea ceremony–it’s designed, after all, to be a slow, contemplative indulgence.
It’s not just designed to give you spiritual pause, either. Besides the I’m-an-ancient-alchemist feeling you get, there’s also an intellectual element. The engravings on the crystal pieces play on the theme of water purification. So look closely. One engraving may depict microscopic bacteria found in rivers and another may be a 19th-century representation of an ocean-dwelling organism with a skeleton of silica, the main element of glass. Now that’s a finely conceptualized, slowdown-already water ritual we can appreciate. Caveat: Subtle religious references are discernible in the form of tiny copper crosses, but these are really just accents.