The idea of a modern society imposing a “serene and self-inflicted embargo” on itself to cut back on carbon emissions? It sounds like something out of a utopian sci-fi novel, but Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, the Italian designers behind the Eindhoven-based Studio Formafantasma, came up with the hypothetical scenario as the basis for their back-to-basics Autarchy installation.
Their series of simple, functional vessels are made from an organic blend of 70% flour, 10% natural limestone, and 20% agricultural waste harvested from the elements discarded during the production of cereal, with ornamental colors derived from vegetables, spices, and roots; a coating of pine resin and natural rubber make the vases and bottles water resistant, but they’re only intended to hold dry goods. The cinnamon-, beet-, spinach-, and paprika-pigmented objects aren’t exactly good enough to eat, but they are completely biodegradable (unlike, say, your Tupperware).
Autarchy was conceived as a conceptual statement, but it has implications that extend beyond an exhibition space. “We’re interested in the ability of materials to be narrative—to evoke memories or suggest scenarios,” they tell Co.Design. “The title implies a closed system where production is local and created within a community, but all the materials used are available globally, and production is based on traditional techniques. It’s a research project that can be improved by sharing the process and information.” As such, a display detailing the research and manufacturing methods accompanies the open-source show, which has traveled from Paris to Poland to the UAE to Beijing.