Elena and Nikola are a designer duo who met in 2019 during their university studies. Their way of doing design sees this discipline as a line crossing the others, which needs to know, analyse, participate and coexist before translating and intervening. The aim of their work is to address urgent environmental, social and political topics through clear and understandable languages able to generate emotional unease, debate and questions.
In 2023 they completed their BA in Industrial Design, Department of Architecture, at the University of Ferrara (IT), with their thesis project Homo Biodiversificans. Il design di una tuta per la biodiversità diffusa nel territorio di Pennabilli.
Also in 2023, they collaborated with MUSE, Museo delle Scienze di Trento (IT), within the NxT - trasformazione e formazione programme dedicated to environmental creativity.
They are currently research fellows at the University of Ferrara (IT), Department of Architecture.
Pennabilli is a small Italian village in the Tosco-Romagnolo Apennines where the research focused because it represents an example of a reality in which the presence of humans is not negative towards nature but increase its biodiversity. The Pennabilli territory is characterised by what are defined as ecological corridors: linear structures in the landscape that allow mobility and genetic exchange for animal and plant species, conserving biodiversity.
Humans are concerned with the maintenance and construction of ecological networks, but tend to consider everything non-human as other. This gives rise to the central question of the research: how can man become a biodiversifier?
The design and speculative answer is a dress: the Homo Biodiversificans suit.
The dress is a non-verbal language, and as the author, literary critic and semiologist Ronald Barthes argued, it is the medium that gets the message across. If dress, as fashion and textile designer Nanni Strada states, is the first space to be inhabited, and if we not only inhabit the landscape but, as the geographer and philosopher Jean-Marc Besse says, we are the landscape, then dress becomes an extension of the landscape of which we are a part.
Forms, functions and materials of the suit follow and rework past and present customs and traditions of life in the fields, in the woods and in relation to nature by translating the historical, cultural, social, environmental, geographical, physical and perceptual landscape of Pennabilli.
The suit is the symbol of the Homo Biodiversificans, but it is not necessary to be so.
A further development of the project is found in the consideration of climate catastrophes, landscape fragmentation and loss of identity. What would the Homo Biodiversificans 'dress up' in a disappearing landscape or non-landscape?