Cross Border Conversations: Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif

The Subtext of Context
STIR X LOCO Design pair designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin with artist Asim Waqif, who speak about pushing the dominant narrative beyond labels and ‘specialisations’.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Jul 30, 2020

New Delhi-based artist Asim Waqif in dialogue with product designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Studio Formafantasma from Amsterdam appear in the fourth episode of Cross Border Conversations – a STIR-original video series.

The exchange, steered by STIR Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Amit Gupta, and Rahul Kumar (Editor - Arts, STIR), discusses several recurring themes between the two practices in the 50-minute episode.

Interestingly, experimentation around materiality, context and waste cycles from cities are deeply rooted in the works of Studio Formafantasma and Asim Waqif. They exchange ideas on forestry and the processes of timber extraction, relating it to a resource beyond a commodity to be obtained. The discussion is illustrated by their own works that address the issue at a larger scale: Andrea and Simone explain the premise of 'Cambio' - an exhibition from London's Serpentine Galleries, while Asim delves into his explorations with bamboo in 'Bamsera Bamsi' - a living sculpture from Bangladesh.

Designers need to trace patterns where fragmentation of knowledge is creating niches that do not communicate with one another. – Simone Farresin, Studio Formafantasma
  • Cambio:2020, Serpentine Galleries | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Cambio: 2020, Serpentine Galleries Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Formafantasma
  • Ore Streams, 2017-2019, NGV - Triennale di Milano | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Ore Streams, 2017-2019, NGV - Triennale di Milano Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Formafantasma
  • Wireline, 2019, FLOS | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Wireline , 2019, FLOSImage Credit: Courtesy of Studio Formafantasma
  • <em>De Natura Fossilium</em>, 2014, Gallery Libby Sellers | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    De Natura Fossilium, 2014, Gallery Libby Sellers Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Formafantasma
  • Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin at their studio in Amsterdam | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin at their studio in Amsterdam Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Formafantasma

The process is more important than the product for Andre, Simone, and Asim. Their research-oriented practices push the dominant narrative beyond the labels of what artists and designers are largely expected to do.

Studio Formafantasma believes it wears a different hat that continually straddles between design and art. Their philosophy regards objects as 'cultural conduits' that manifest as an ever-evolving form, as against to perceiving these as sculptures which are recognised solely for their aesthetic value.

The most important thing, which is also very tough to work against, is self-censorship. – Asim Waqif
  • [Loy], 2019, Durga Puja Pandal commissioned by Arjunpur Amra Sabai Club, Kolkata | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    (Loy), 2019, Durga Puja pandal commissioned by Arjunpur Amra Sabai Club, Kolkata Image Credit: Courtesy of Asim Waqif
  • Bamsera Bamsi: 2017-ongoing (expected to take 5-10 years); site-specific bamboo plantation with aeolian sounds in Sylhet, Bangladesh | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Bamsera Bamsi, 2017-ongoing (expected to take 5-10 years); site-specific bamboo plantation with aeolian sounds in Sylhet, BangladeshImage Credit: Courtesy of Asim Waqif
  • Salvage: 2017, site-specific interactive installation at Vancouver Art Gallery's offsite| Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Salvage, 2017, site-specific interactive installation at Vancouver Art Gallery's offsite Image Credit: Courtesy of Asim Waqif
  • Zuk: 2011, special project at the Hong Kong Art Fair | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Zuk,, 2011, special project at the Hong Kong Art Fair Image Credit: Courtesy of Asim Waqif
  • Asim Waqif at his studio in New Delhi  | Cross Border Conversations | Studio Formafantasma X Asim Waqif | STIR X LOCO Design
    Asim Waqif at his studio in New Delhi Image Credit: Courtesy of Asim Waqif

Asim, whose artworks make a strong reference to architecture, design, and urban planning, doesn’t relate to compartmentalisation of disciplines and a stereotypical way of looking at things. A trained architect, he believes that his artistic practice is where he is currently finding most opportunities to express himself, yet these don’t motivate him to remain an artist forever.

Many refreshing anecdotes and insights come to the table. Partners in life and work, Andrea and Simone share that they had applied a combined portfolio for their Masters at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, which was eventually accepted, while Asim reminisces his learnings from his grandmother who introduced him to the understanding of extending the life of things that others consider 'waste'.

Other topics that triggered the dialogue include values of a human-centred versus a planet-centred approach in design, the reality of so-called sustainable urban cities, and experimentation with new materials as the shape of things to come.

This and a lot more in the video above!

Cross Border Conversations
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji and Amit Gupta, STIR X LOCO Design present candid video conversations among creative professionals across geographical borders and creative disciplines of architecture, design, art and beyond.

LOCO Design: Shape of things to come
Steered by values of leadership and integrity, LOCO Design strives to create aesthetic innovation with a creative essence enriched by design values, master artisans and technical expertise, contributing to a responsible future.
Know more at www.locodesign.in

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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