London design duo Studio Swine is hosting an exhibition at the Fashion Space Gallery called Fordlandia. It shows furniture and textiles inspired by the abandoned rubber plantation in the Amazon rainforest that was once colonised by auto giant Ford.
American industrialist Henry Ford built Fordlandia in the late 1920s to secure a supply of rubber for his car empire. The plantation was also intended to function as a utopian model for his workers that could revolutionise future US cities. However, in 1930, his labourers staged revolts against the strict behavioural controls imposed, and by 1945, Fordlandia was sold back to the Brazilian government and left to decay.
In the exhibition, Studio Swine imagine a world where Fordlandia is a success, where after the production of synthetic rubber, it continues to produce domestic products from Amazonian rubber. Nature and industry exist in harmony, sustainably and beautifully.
By visiting the site in Brazil, the designers sourced materials native to Fordlandia, including ebonite, a hard material made from vulcanised rubber, as well as other materials that reference the Brazilian tropical modernist movement, including Brazilian walnut and pirarucu fish skin. The materials are realised in a selection of furniture and products, inspired by natural forms such as trees, roots and snakes, as well as industrial forms, such as the intricate customisation of exhaust pipes.
Other exhibits include a specially commissioned film, historical photographs and denim workwear jackets and textiles by London College of Fashion graduates Erica Weide and Emma Fenton Villar.
Fordlandia runs at the London Fashion Space Gallery until December 10 2016.