The curator Elisabetta Donati de Conti talks about May Contain Traces of Forest, the exhibition that talks about the relationship between man and the woods (at the Circolo del Design in Turin until 15 December)

May Contain Traces of Forest (at the Circolo del Design in Turin until 15 December) is an exhibition that reveals the profound connection between nature and man, dissolving the illusion that the forest is far from our urban world.

To create this fascinating narrative, the curator Elisabetta Donati de Conti worked between design and scientific research transforming the exhibition hall into an evocative environment, saturated with meaning. To fully explore this synergy, we asked her to tell us about May Contain Traces of Forest.

Read also Anish Kapoor at Palazzo Strozzi

How was May Contain Traces of Forest born?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "For some time I had been reading some scientific material on the forest environment and the production of wood, as well as man's cultural relationship with this material. And I came across Giorgio Vacchiano's book, The resilience of the forest.

Giorgio is from Turin, we met at the Circolo del Design and I began to hypothesize that I could combine the argument of the text, which I had been studying for some time, with an exhibition for the Circolo. I felt like I wasn't an expert, but I was informed enough about the topic to be able to propose it as a theme; then the idea began to materialize when Giorgio Vacchiano also showed himself enthusiastic and willing to help me."

What message does it intend to communicate?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "May Contain Traces of Forest wants to bring out one of the many aspects of the bond that exists between man and the environment forestry: production.

Despite the vastness of the topic, we have chosen not to discriminate between: industrial and artisanal production; informal production and self-production; study and experimentation. For this reason, we have decided to include all objects made by humans thanks to forests, regardless of the production process.

From this perspective, we have set ourselves a further objective: to mend the cultural gap that exists between the contemplation of the forest environment, seen as dreamlike, and the objects that derive from it".

What reaction do you expect from visitors?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "May Contain Traces of Forest proposes to stimulate visitors not to limit themselves to seeing the objects, but to observe them carefully and appreciate its beauty, which often escapes our distracted gaze. We did not intend to bridge this cultural leap with the exhibition, but at least to pragmatize it, giving a dynamic and changing vision of the forest environment. In this way , we intend to bring these two worlds, the forest ecosystem and production, closer together in the cultural imagination in a broader perspective than is the case now."

Who collaborated with you in the creation of May Contain Traces of Forest?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "Giorgio Vacchiano actively took part in the curation of the exhibition. In fact, thanks to him, I managed to document the research aspect of the forest environment, through objects that are used in the field. Although the work was defined as mine and Giorgio's, it should be noted that we received various help.

One of these is that of Davide Balla, a young designer who has been working on waste and reuse materials for some time. His collaboration was very important, because, by virtue of the fact that he is very young, he managed to bring out a new point of view on the cultural gap linked to the use and processing of materials ".

How does the forest environment develop within the exhibition?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "The environment is divided into a clear and defined path, starting with a description of the forest and its study, through measurement tools, analysis materials and sampling. The transition from research to experimentations of the designers is marked by a section dedicated to 'everyday objects'.

This selection includes common objects produced on a maxi-industrial scale, such as paper, cardboard, toilet paper, glasses, viscose spools, soaps, bubble baths, oil essences, and others. What makes this section unique is the possibility of perceiving the continuously evolving fragrances, even when it comes to a single sample flower, where the change is influenced solely by color.

The second part of the exhibition focuses attention on the research and experimental work of national and international designers, presenting various works that bring the public closer to the topic and highlight the limits and characteristics of materials. The itinerary ends with speculative narratives that invite visitors to reflect on the relationship with forest ecosystems".

What criteria guided the selection of the exhibited objects?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "Initially we didn't have any parameters to follow. In fact, we noticed some discrepancies in the choice of objects and it was quite complicated to find a synergy, since Giorgio and I had different approaches to the research. I was more tied to a >design reference, he, who is a researcher, to the scientific aspect of the project.

Therefore, we had to find a 'language', so that we could follow both points of view, given that the final objective is precisely to bring the two worlds closer together. To start, we decided to remove the wood, so it is the main criterion on which the entire selection is based.

And then, another important parameter was that of wanting to bring out the deepest part of the forest, as we wanted to highlight the transformative attitude of the material that is combined with production. Furthermore, these principles have not limited the choice to a specific type of product or a specific colour."

How does the forest environment influence the design and production of the exhibited works?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "The influence of the forest environment is clearly manifested in the choices of materials and in the approach to them, giving them a new connotation. This dynamic contributes to shaping projects that go beyond simple representation, highlighting a deep and significant dialogue between nature and design.

Each work represents a personal reinterpretation of the forest, offering different perspectives that allow the public to understand the theme based on what is closest to their own sensitivity.

Among the different projects, there are some that focus on the transformation of the material, such as the wool made with conifer needles by Tamara Orjola or the experiments with 3D printed wooden materials by Cara/ David. Others, however, give a utopian connotation to the forest, integrating it in an advanced way into the urban context, as highlighted in the work of Angelo Renna and Oleksandr Nenenko .

In addition to these, the exhibition presents visual interpretations, such as those by Studio Fludd and Laura Pugno, sound interpretations, such as the landscapes of Karolina < strong>Metrak, and even chemical-visual works, such as those of Alessandro Ruzzier. Each project is a fascinating response to our purpose."

Does the exhibition encourage active participation and interaction of the public with the concepts presented?

Elisabetta Donati de Conti: "It is important to underline that the exhibition is an integral part of the Earthrise - Design for a Living Planet festival, a project developed over four days in the month of June. During the event, given short presentations on specific dynamics by experts from various fields.

In fact, Earthrise included workshops, pills, dialogues and readings, addressing not only the theme of the exhibition but also scientific, shamanic, anthropological aspects, non-human rights and more, linked to it.

This multidisciplinary approach allowed the public to interact through daily dialogues and workshops suitable for all ages, including children, providing them with the opportunity to express their own conception of the forest in relation to the topics covered.

Although the exhibition is coming to an end and the workshops have already taken place, you will have the opportunity to review the content on YouTube. Furthermore, a podcast is also available on Spotify which collects various curiosities about the exhibition and takes up the themes already discussed during the festival".