Cambio (‘change, exchange’), is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma design studio into the governance of the timber industry. If design aims to follow Circular Economy principles it means that designers need to understand much wider material choice and manufacturing implications. The exhibition at Serpentine Sackler gallery looks into role of human consumption and evolution of the timber industry.
Image: samples of rare woods from the Great Exhibition 1851, London.
Seating in the image is designed by Formafantasma from a single tree blown over in a storm in northern Italy 2018. The film above it reminds the viewers of dangers of over-management and monoculture forests, that are more vulnerable to intense weather events.
First experience when entering the exhibition is the scent of wood. It is designed by smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas. The smell is a combination of different woods. It is both fresh and earthy at the same time.
The main attraction of the exhibition is an excellent film, a visual essay, that presents how the timber industry has evolved from the beginning of time to modern days. It is a critical view on the role of people, power and cost of natural resources to gain prosperity.
Formafantasma undertook forensic research with different scientific institutions into the data that can be found in wood. The analysis showed that mundane objects like musical instruments or tools can be made of wood from protected pieces. The aim is to gain more transparency from manufacturing, so that designers can make better informed material choices.
Recently, there has been movement towards more research-led investigative practises from design to architecture to use multi-disicplinary approaches. Great example is Forensic Architecture practise who were also nominated for a Turner Prize art award. In addition, art galleries like Serpentine and museums like Guggenheim give major exhibitions also to designers and architects, not only artists.
One explanation is that design has a great advantage in educating audiences to understand links between industries and disicplines to decode complex challenges.