Born in Villafranca di Verona, Italy in 1989, Zeno Franchini holds a Master’s degree from DesignAcademy Eindhoven (2014) and a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the Politecnico Institute of Milan (2011).
In 2014, Franchini cofounded Marginal Studio, along with partner Francesca Gattello. Currently based in Palermo, the research-driven studio focuses on design’s potential roles in addressing environmental justice, climate change, decolonization, and political awareness, with an emphasis on material culture and local heritage. The experimental practice operates in continuous dialogue with other professions and cultures, focusing on community-driven collaborations within marginalized communities, neglected environments, and peripheral territories.
In Palermo, Marginal engages with diasporic communities, aiming to bring new perspectives into solution seeking projects addressing some of the most crucial issues of our time. In addition to social engagement, the studio works side by side with scientists in projects relating to agriculture and land exploitation—including seed genetics (Decolonizing Agriculture, 2015) ands oil quality (Cultural Stratigraphy, 2016). Presently, the studio’s focus is turned to the topic of climate justice, explored through the lens of material culture and object production.
“It’s easy to look back towards history and see clearly what was wrong and what was right. What is not easy to understand is to what extent we today are ourselves perpetrators of injustice.What we need today is to build bridges among people—no matter how far they are from your ideology or political position. We need to connect. Being in this particular place, with its dark history, we feel that very powerfully. And we know the struggle dieDAS is taking on. But I believe that it is necessary; it’s important to be in this space, to create new work and dialogue here, and with the local community, and beyond.”
Marginal’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including, but not limited to, presentations at Milan Design Week, the Venice Biennale, Depot Basel, London DesignFestival, Manifesta, and Dutch Design Week.