More is Hidden than Revealed

Studio Formafantasma elevates X Muse with an elegant tasting collection

Photography Rebecca Scheinberg. Styling Lune Kuipers

When it comes to culture, character, and creative inspiration, the spirit of choice is surely whisky. The history… the aging process… the rich conversation each malt brings from the land from which it hails… Could William Faulkner have similarly sung the praises of any other drink when he declared whisky an essential tool of his trade alongside “paper, tobacco, and food”?

However, the team behind X Muse are out to challenge this with a new vodka label so rich in artistic influences it takes its name from an assumed ‘tenth muse’ (the pronunciation of the brand name), one so perfect she combines all qualities of the other nine Greek mythological muses in perfect harmony.

Like its Scotch counterparts, X Muse is made from barley in Scotland; unlike any other whisky, its root source is the pure water of an ancient aquifer within the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Honouring this provenance and deepening vodka’s often simplistic reputation, the brand has placed at its core the values of esoteric wisdom, transcendental encounters, nature, and art. Renowned design studio Formafantasma undertook the task of creating an elegant collection of objects with which to perform tasting rituals – as well as a complementary ‘temple’ space within Jupiter Artland – in order to evoke this alchemic mood in a unique contemporary context.

“We wanted to highlight a ritual that was based on quality, on elevating vodka to a different level,” Formafantasma’s Andrea Trimarchi explains, “which could facilitate the understanding and development of the drink.” To do this they conceived delicate, intricate items crafted from timeless archetypal elements: “So the use of wood, bronze and crystal; the materials are not lacquered or treated in any way but pure and natural, as much as the product.”

The drink’s focus on its ingredients intends to leave behind conceptions of the spirit as a rudimentary alcohol vehicle, instead providing the depth of flavour palate normally associated with X Muse’s single malt compatriots, allowing them to be savoured slowly, neat.

Virginia Woolf spoke of “two levels of existence” and “the slow opening up of single and solemn moments of concentrated emotion” – states X Muse has ambitiously set out to stimulate in its consumer. With the brand motto, Plura latent quam patent (more is hidden than revealed), the wide-ranging inbuilt origin story, and indeed even the name itself, this vodka is inviting us out of the cocktail bar and into the ineffable – a place of creative promise.

This article is taken from Port issue 29. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here

The Path to Positive Change: Episode 2

Port’s second podcast episode, featuring Emily Adams Bode and Studio Formafantasma

In the second episode of The Path to Positive Change, host Jamie Waters is joined by Emily Adams Bode, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin. Adams Bode is the NYC based founder of Bode, the agenda setting menswear brand that’s loved in the fashion industry for its craftsmanship and use of vintage textiles to create unique, one-off items. Trimarchi and Farresin, meanwhile, are the co-founders of Studio Formafantasma, a design firm based in Amsterdam that’s celebrated for its innovative use of materials and incisive questioning on the way the design industry operates. We discuss sustainable design, consumer appetites post-Covid, and collaboration across disciplines.


Our third starter episode will be released next week, so stay tuned, with following podcasts arriving once a month across Spotify.


Simone Farresin of Studio Formafantasma reflects on the duo’s innovative new design for lighting company Flos

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Studio Formafantasma

In 2016 Apple introduced the iPhone 7 with wireless headphones and without a headphone jack, a move that, while criticised at the time, has now been widely imitated. It aligns with the efforts of designers in recent decades to eliminate the presence of tangled cables from our lives. In the name of convenience, a clean design must be small, light and portable with only the most essential physical features. A stripped back aesthetic is instinctively imagined as one in which any evidence of functionality is a hindrance that must be hidden. 

In an effort to see the move towards a wireless existence from a unique perspective, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the design duo behind Studio Formafantasma, have introduced WireRing, a new lighting system for Flos that reduces the object at the same time as it brings its essential components to the fore, all with a stylish flourish. Enclosing a ring of LED strip within the electric cable required to transmit energy, and then suspending it from a wall using ABS joints, the designers produce a minimalistic lamp with an indirect glow that doubles as a smart sculptural feature in its own right.

Here, Farresin speaks to Port about how he and Trimarchi came together as Formafantasma, their unique, concept-driven approach to design, and the freedom that lighting design can offer.

How did you come together as Formafantasma?

Andrea and I met in Florence. We were studying our bachelors, started hanging out and realised we wanted to work together. We applied as a duo to the Design Academy in Eindhoven for the master’s program and since then we’ve started working together. We graduated at the end of 2009 and immediately opened our studio.

Where does the name come from?

Formafantasma means the form of a ghost. It is a reference to the fact that the form is not the most important part of our work – it’s much more about the process and the idea and research. Often we think the process is more interesting than the final outcome. So you could say we have a less formal attitude to design than others, that our success is derived more from a conceptual approach.

How has your practice developed over that time?

It has changed in many different ways. Our practice has always been based in material explorations but we have become more disciplined. It’s about experimenting as well as focusing on the complexities and impact of design – we recently did a project exploring the recycling of electronic waste, how the industry of works and what we can do to improve it.

We’ve also focused more on commercial projects and collaborating with our partners. Flos falls into that. We were trying to work out what we can do within the industrial design sector, started working with lighting, and realised that it was something we were very interested in.

What interests you in lighting?

It’s several things. In recent years working with lighting has become much more interesting with the introduction of new technologies like LEDs. You are able to do something much more innovative than with, say, furniture design. Light is not only about form – it’s much more about what you do with the light. It’s this immaterial thing but is also very expressive and important to people. A sofa has to look like a sofa but, if you are a good designer, a light offers a much larger degree of freedom.

How did the specific idea for WireRing come about?

We did an experience in Milan many years ago where we showed many different experimentations into lighting. Through that research we came up with an idea based around our interest in indirect light – the way it interacts with architecture – and also wanted to do something as reduced down and minimal as possible. It’s not that we consider ourselves as minimalists but we wanted to achieve a timelessness and reduce the impact on the environment in its shipping and even its production.

We started working on the idea of the bulb and cord – the electric cable in old fashioned lighting systems. We wondered what that could mean in the age of the LEDs and this whole new light came about: one light source and one cable, the usually neglected part of a light which now becomes the lamp itself.

Molten Art: Nude Glassware

Port takes a tour around the factory of Turkish glassware brand Nude, which has set its sights beyond ordinary tableware, delving into architecture, interior design and accessories

“Blow and twist … That’s it … Blow and twist”. These are the instructions being proffered by a master glass blower at the manufacturing facility of Turkish glass specialist, Nude, who is showing me how the craftsmen here produce the brand’s contemporary glass products. My first effort at blowing my own glass quickly makes its way into the recycling bucket and, while I’m pleased that a second attempt is met with a slight nod of approval, let’s just say I’ll not be giving up the day job.

It takes Nude’s top craftsmen between six and eight years to master the skills required for some of the more complicated pieces produced at this factory in the city of Denizli, which employs around 400 people. For Nude, meeting the challenges posed by unusual designs such as the Jour pitcher by French designer Inga Sempé – which features solid-glass spheres that attach the curved handles to the vessel – is part of its objective to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with glass.

Nude was launched in 2014 as a sub-brand of Sisecam Group – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flat glass, glassware and glass packaging, which also supplies glass products to premium brands around the world. The idea was to apply Sisecam’s knowledge and experience to a new company that would regain ownership of production and explore new directions for glass in addition to traditional stemware. “We felt we had the know-how within the company to achieve every possible way of working with glass, from blown glass to pressed glass, to scissor cuts and sand blasting,” explains Nude’s brand director, Yair Haidu, speaking in a meeting room next to the factory. “We had the expertise, so it was time to do something with it that belongs to us.”

During the first couple of years, Nude’s in-house design team focused on creating products that encapsulated its progressive approach and desire to move away from traditional tableware into lifestyle products such as vases, candleholders, ornaments and lighting. “We realised that people are spending less and less time at the table,” adds Haidu. “Rather than just making more products for the kitchen or the table, which is quite a saturated market, we wanted to delve into the worlds of architecture, interior design and accessories.” To achieve this bold objective, the brand initiated collaborations with some of the world’s leading designers, who were tasked with translating their personal vision into products that feel like they belong in the Nude family. Ron Arad, Nigel Coates and Joe Doucet were among the first to accept the challenge, while upcoming collaborations with Studio Formafantasma, Sebastian Herkner and Brad Ascalon demonstrate that the brand is keen to work with emerging talents as well as established names.

The ‘Chill’ tumblers and ‘Chill’ carafe

Following our tour of the factory, we are introduced to some of the key items from the company’s collections. Erdem Akan’s characterful Mr&Mrs night set is one of Nude’s top sellers thus far, and is representative of the brand’s playful approach. The curvaceous decanter is topped with a cup that functions as a stopper and features a sleeping face. At the opposite end of the scale in terms of sales potential, Arad’s Decantering is an elegant ring of glass forming a handle and vessel, interrupted only by a single opening that allows wine to be decanted smoothly. Each Decantering takes a full day to produce.

The ‘Jour’ water jug and ‘Jour’ short water glass

Some of the pieces created by the Nude Design Team are among my favourites, due to the intelligent use of glass to solve everyday problems. The Roots herb pot, for example, is a holder for orchids or other plants, which sit in a transparent glass pot and gradually absorb water from a lower chamber through a rope wick. The Chill collection, meanwhile, comprises a decanter with matching tumbler and bowl that rest on cooled marble bases to keep liquids cold without diluting them with ice. In addition to the groundbreaking homeware items, Nude also continues to produce high-quality stemware, such as the incredibly delicate Stem Zero range and the sophisticated Finesse range, with its intricate gridded decoration.

Visiting Nude’s headquarters and seeing the molten material being manipulated using techniques that have existed for centuries feels like stepping back in time to an era of industry and handcraft. One look at Nude’s products, however, leaves one in no doubt this is a brand with its sights set firmly on the future, and on making a meaningful impression on the homewares market. “We are at the beginning of our journey,” Haidu concludes. “It’s been three years of hard work but the feedback so far has been excellent, so we will continue to grow and evolve, both in terms of volume and maturity. There is much more to come.”

You can find the full range of Nude glassware here.