A Design Studio From The Future
Words by Apryl Fuentes
Images by Michael Tyrone Delaney
Curatorial duo Natalia Luna and Josh Terris, dreamt up a space for play, from a shared passion for special design finds and the stories that follow each piece. On a classically sunny LA day we met up for lunch; our conversation meandered through a range of design and art-related vignettes. In a world of mass production, overpriced resell culture, and quantity over quality – formas is a one of one.
There is a storytelling nature to curating a space, combining new with old, little accents from the past here and there. On the nightstand alongside the photo booth picture strip, is some random nostalgic junk from a yard sale or your parent’s garage. What about the heirloom your mother used to make her mother’s recipe, amongst bright ceramic dishes handcrafted by someone you admire. Tell me the story behind your favorite chair; the one you sit in while you write that email you’ve been meaning to get to. Every object has its function and sentimental value. Obsessed with archival design, I was drawn to this project by Natalia and Josh.
Los Angeles-based design hub formas came to fruition in the fall of 2019, when the duo came together to curate a feel-good experience with “home goods from the future.” A visit to their by-appointment space will leave you sparked with wonderment. You can sit on a larger-than-life chair shaped like a baseball catcher’s mitt or peruse the various conversational trinkets – make sure to ask Josh about the infamous golden glove. Not everything is what it appears to be.
I’d never interacted with a Gaetano Pesce piece before, let alone two – in person. The Italian architect and designer is best known for his use of unconventional materials to create functional forms with an eccentricity ahead of his time. This particular vessel, for Fish by Gaetano Pesce, is made from flexible resin and is essentially flubber for adults. I was surprised by its texture and resilience, considering how cautious I’d been to interact with the piece thinking it was fabricated from glass. It’s like when you go shopping with an adult and they tell you to watch out because anything you touch and break, they have to buy. I maneuvered through the studio with this same "break it, buy it" sentiment reverberating through my mind; except this time I could interact with objects uninhibited by my elementary fear.
“I remember being at my grandma and grandpa's house and they had a modular sofa. It wasn't cool or anything but we'd be watching TV moving it around, like little kids just playing with it. You're a kid thinking, 'why does this move so much' and like, 'why can we have it in different places?' Now knowing the design, it’s so cool.” - Josh Terris
Delving into the recesses of our minds, we exchanged our earliest design-related memories. I often think about how much art surrounded me while I was growing up. My child brain didn’t make that connection between the different mediums I was engaging with, at least not until I found myself taking a deep interest in what I do now. Similarly, Natalia shared those moments when her dad would take her to Ikea to peruse the showroom for vibrant, modernized home decor at an accessible price point, which the company is most notably celebrated for. Those earlier Ikea pieces are now collectibles, with most of their worth attached to the rarity of designs in their simplistic yet funky glory.
The duo muse about their particular interest in design that is built to last. When I asked if they would ever design a chair, both immediately rejected the thought. “I'm more so just interested in the history of how long a chair has been here and the fact that it's still in perfect condition or it's not. I would want to design a chair if I felt like we weren't prepared to do it. I wanna do it the right way. I want a chair that's gonna last forever.”
Her interest and desire for research, is the major driving force behind this labor of love. Natalia created a chair obsessed Instagram account @situ.ation “for those who love to sit”– an unintended prelude to form.as. We related on being part of zine culture circa 2012, surprised we never crossed paths during any given independent book fair that took place from the bay to NYC. Natalia and Josh are collectively inspired by an environment familiar to many of us who grew up in Southern California, a place rich with subcultures. These were the motivations and inspirations behind creative mediums the two participated in, predating their collective endeavor. There's skate culture, the desert and its ample space, punk culture, music, landscapes, and road trips among many escapes that influence discovery.
If Natalia can’t envision a piece of furniture or decor in her home, then she can’t fathom collecting it for the studio. Her creative pursuit is less about the money and has everything to do with the adrenaline that comes from each find. Sourcing is the reward. I can feel the excitement shared between her and Josh, while they retell wayward Craigslist encounters, driving long distances for a gem. Or the time Natalia manifested a Pierre Cardin mirror after endless hours of searching. There ended up being the exact one she wanted, right up the street at a neighbor’s house. If you look hard enough you might even recognize a piece or two from their collection in the background of some A-list celebrity’s Instagram photo moment. That’s beside the point. As it ever evolves, formas shapeshifts into new functions and invites you to pull up a chair.