It is a virtually impossibility to develop a green, ethical project when clients commission single project designs, said Italian design team Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, who comprise Formafantasma. They assert that it is not enough to ask designers to create a sustainable home or business; instead designers must be granted the freedom to work in a diverse, more realistic style.

Formafantasma was recently at work at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where they designed the Baroque in Rome exhibition that will be disassembled and reused after its period of presentation; a project that they said could only be accomplished through virtue of a long-term partnership with the exhibit’s host institution.

As opposed to painting walls with various colours, making necessary layers of repainting after the show, they counted among their design tools bolts of fabric that will be given to schools after the exhibition.

The plain ivory-hued walls will be employed by the Rijksmuseum for two upcoming shows. Even so, the design duo states that they would have needed to invest much more time in the exhibition to make it totally, thoroughly sustainable.

While everyone in the building and design industry is talking about sustainable design, the design team believes that the approach to sustainable design should be holistic and involve the entire creative process.

Trimarchi remembers a recent communication with a firm that asked them to design a recyclable good. They rejected the request, asking instead to collaborate with the company for a three-year planning period, one that would involve an analysis of their production and packaging—not to mention the methods of repair that would be required for any sustainable products produced, as well as the production and planning process covering the whole life of the product.

The pair believes that the current system must develop to include more involved relationships between brands and young designers. Companies should value and respect their material resources and creative relationships. Those who exploit resources, said Farresin, also exploit people. Companies must assign responsibility, maintain responsibility, and reflect responsibility.

Decentralisation is especially prevalent, they stated, in technology companies. Formafantasma instigated a two-year research project focused on technology and e-waste and were disturbed by the inefficienct design of products like iPhones.

Those company managers who truly wish to be innovative, they say, must collaborate with the sustainable development team, the engineers, the product designers, and the materials and finishing departments; tough to do when everyone works in different parts of the building—or the world.

Next month, the studio plans to reveal its exhibition at London’s Serpentine Galleries. Known as Cambio, derived from the Latin word for change, it will examine the ecological and political responsibilities of modern design.