For Milan Design Week 2022, Prada has joined forces with Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma to stage a symposium at Milan’s National Braidense Library, exploring the complex relationship between design and the natural environment. The initiative introduces ‘a moment of collective reflection’ and aims to debate, share and present innovative thoughts through an educational and informative format. 

Prada Frames: a Milan Design Week symposium

Purple forest. Formafantasma imagery promoting Prada Frames symposium at Fuorisalone

The symposium’s theme focuses on the ecosystem of the forest, the logic that governs the timber industry, and the role design can play in this ecosystem. It stems from Formafantasma’s ongoing research that formed the basis for ‘Cambio’, an exhibition originally shown at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2020 and further developed by the designers and their teams in Milan and Rotterdam. ‘The symposium, in fact, is also a way to expand our knowledge on the subject,’ the pair explain. ‘In the last year, we have been extensively looking at Finnish forestry in relation to Artek, the furniture company founded by the Aaltos. We will address this as part of one of the sessions.’

The aim of this collaboration with Prada, they add, is to create a platform that ‘can actually produce meaning and ideas instead of only products’, not as a criticism of product-making, but as an opportunity to develop a new design culture that can look beyond that.

‘Education and culture are essential instruments that help us not only comprehend ourselves and the world we live in, but also urge us to explore the unknown,’ says Miuccia Prada. ‘Conversations have always been at the core of Prada’s approach and investigation of the world, so Prada Frames with Formafantasma was a very natural step in this direction.’ 

‘Education and culture are essential instruments that help us not only comprehend ourselves and the world we live in, but also urge us to explore the unknown’ - Miuccia Prada

Over the course of three days, the symposium will host speakers that include scientists, anthropologists, activists and practitioners from the fields of design, architecture and curation whose work looks beyond product design. The line-up includes Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn, Forensic Architecture’s Eyal Weizman and Paulo Tavares, writer Amitav Ghosh, Anna Tsing and scientific platform Feral Atlas, Andrés Jaque of the Office for Political Innovation and dendroclimatologist Valerie Trouet. ‘We wanted it to be multidisciplinary; we strongly believe the only way to actually address ecology is to stop fragmenting knowledge and to look at subjects from a multitude of perspectives,’ say the designers.

Purple forest

Two daily sessions will present a variety of formats such as readings, debates, conversations, and video projections.

‘For a very long time, design has been solely focusing on the needs and desires of users, and so less preoccupied with material sourcing and its development,’ conclude the designers. ‘Considering the ecological crisis, it is more relevant than ever to be much more aware, critical and creatively engaged with the chain of custody of materials. The main opportunity is the development of a much more sophisticated idea of design that goes beyond styling and actually engages more systematically with the challenges of sustainability.’ §