This work is a reflection on colour, and above all on how to bring the multiplicity of shades typical of a hand-crafted piece into a large-scale project.

Formafantasma | Andrea Trimarchi & Simone Farresin

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About the collection

The engineering of ceramics for architecture has allowed the production of larger and larger sizes and brighter and brighter colours. At the same time, the process’s mechanisation has eliminated the flaws which, even when they were unwanted defects, once gave character to surfaces. These differences were particularly noticeable in ceramic tiles, which when placed side by side were usually not exactly alike, particularly in shade.

In the CROMATICA collection, Formafantasma investigates the potential of colour in contemporary ceramic covering manufacturing. The collection consists of 6 colours with two surface finishes (natural and glossy) and a large number of sizes. In production terms, the slabs combine a variety of technologies to achieve new shades and colour variations within every single panel. Every slab is designed for use in its full size or cut into smaller sizes, which can be combined – even at random, and mixing different colours – to reveal a wealth of shades, the basis for interior designs with unique, original chromatic combinations. When developing the colour assortment, Formafantasma also drew on the CEDIT archives, taking some of its inspiration from a vast selection of glazes which Ettore Sottsass designed for the company in the late 1990s.

Browse the catalogue – author’s book – and discover all the details about the collection

Analogic, digital, chromatic

critical text

Studio Formafantasma base their work in the design world on a strong vocation for research… In this case, in particular, the company’s history was a real treasure trove, a fine blend of memory and technology: on the one hand, the excellence of production technologies now extended with the added potential arising from the engineering of large-sized ceramic tiles, and on the other a wealth of experience build up with great designers of the past, from Zanuso to Noorda, through to Ettore Sottsass.

Andrea and Simone decided to focus on Sottsass – who started designing for CEDIT back in the late Seventies – and made an in-depth study of one of the colour charts he developed towards the end of the Nineties. A spread of colours which gave its name to the “41 Colors” collection, included in the catalogue of the period as a real alphabet for what has proved to be a lasting design language. Colour was much more than just a compulsory step in the dialogue between designer and producer, since Sottsass had already discovered the power of the mystery intrinsic to this universe of invention. With CEDIT the master-designer, a long-established lover of ceramics and their crafted unpredictability, found a way of transferring his personal feeling for colour to a wide audience, through industrial mass production.

And this assumption is another factor Formafantasma have inherited, interpreting it today with new, even more efficient technical resources just as capable of expressing the secrets of colour.The concept of colour “in isolation” – Sottsass explained in a 1992 text – classified colour, Pantone, as they call it now, “scientific” colour, is something I still refuse to accept. (…) Colours, the idea of colour, are always intangible, they slip slowly away like words, that run through your fingers, like poetry, which you can never keep hold of, like a good story.

Domitilla Dardi

Design historian

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Andrea Trimarchi & Simone Farresin

The Formafantasma partnership – Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin – studied at the Istituto di Design Isia in Florence, midway between their respective home areas, the Veneto Region and Sicily. They graduated from the Eindhoven Design Academy and then decided to settle in the Netherlands. Within just a few years they have taken part in the Dutch Design Week, the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Abu Dhabi Art, the Icff in New York and Design Miami/Basel.

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