FORMAFANTASMA AND QUADRO REINVENT THE OUTDOOR SHOWERby Emma Leigh Macdonald
The term “outdoor shower” brings different images to mind, some sexy, others not. Moss and driftwood are obvious tropes, sleek Italian craftsmanship perhaps less so. But Quadro and Formafantasma are here to change that. The Italian manufacturer of bathroom, spa, and kitchen equipment and the research-focused design studio have collaborated on an instantly iconic outdoor shower. Stripped down to the essentials, the result is a visual delight that would fit perfectly among François Dallegret’s precision drawings for Reyner Banham’s 1965 essay “A Home Is Not a House.”
Back in 2019, when he was still working full time as an independent art director, Quadro’s creative director Enrico Magistro worked with Formafantasma’s Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi on a series of videos for Flos. Two years later, Farresin and Trimarchi moved to Milan, after 14 years in the Netherlands, around the same time that 42-year-old Magistro and his sister Elena took ownership of Quadro, a family firm founded by their father Carmelo in 1978. Quadro and Formafantasma began to discuss working together, a natural fit for the design duo who favor companies like Quadro or Artek that are strong on sustainability. Given its timing, the collaboration was fundamentally shaped by the pandemic, which prompted products like the outdoor shower because most people “had just spent the past year indoors,” as Magistro explains. For Formafantasma, the coronavirus slowdown was the occasion to learn the technical intricacies of working in stainless steel, Quadro being one of the rare manufacturers not to use less expensive chrome-plated brass.
Learning the Quadro craft has resulted in FFQT, an entire Formafantasma bathroom collection for indoors and out, with faucets, mixers, and shower fixtures. Though they took an extremely economical approach to form and material, Farresin and Trimarchi did not stint on functionality — the faucets, for example, come with built-in accessories like mirrors and soap dispensers and can be updated to include further add-ons. As for the outdoor shower, all you need to get it working is a classic garden hose, which “is green or yellow in Italy, but could include many other colors elsewhere,” comments Magistro. Unique to each environment, the shower opens up a new playfulness for Quadro, anticipating future developments. “In between collections, we want to continue to work in this collaborative way,” says Magistro, “but with art objects rather than full releases — playful structures that put Quadro’s craftsmanship on full display.”