Studio Fontana

Gabriel Fontana is an independent designer and creative director. Drawing on a social design framework, his work explores how ideologies shape movements and vice versa. Through using performative and participatory methodologies, he positions design as a social practice. With this approach, he investigates how our bodies propagate, internalise and reproduce social norms. He proposes ways that this can be unlearned through new forms of pedagogy, activities and games that deconstruct group dynamics.

Sport and physical education have been his main field of research for the past five years. In this context, Gabriel develops alternative team sport games that reinvent sport as a queer pedagogy. With this method, he developed Multiform (2019) for the municipality of Rotterdam; an educational program for primary and secondary schools that contributes to inclusive physical education. More recently, Gabriel launched the Tournament of the Unknown (2022), a tournament series that reimagine togetherness.

Working towards a more inclusive future, his work infiltrates multiple layers of society through three specific sectors: education, culture and the sports industry. His games have been played in schools across Europe, at Nike World Headquarters (US) and in various museums such as MAC/VAL (FR), W139 Amsterdam (NL), Design Milan Week (IT) amongst others.

Gabriel is currently living and working between Rotterdam (NL) and Paris (FR). He is a lecturer in both the BA programme Design Lab at Rietveld Academie Amsterdam (NL), and in the BA Social Practices at Willem De Kooning Academy Rotterdam (NL). Additionally, he has worked as a guest tutor at Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (NL), Design Academy Eindhoven (NL), Sint-Lucas Antwerp (BE) and Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design (FR).

He graduated cum laude from both the Design Academy Eindhoven (NL) with a master’s in Social Design and from Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design (FR), with a bachelor’s degree. His work has been awarded by multiple design prizes (Rotterdam New Talent Award 2018, Paris Design Forum 2019) and diverse design grants (Stimuleringsfonds Talent Development, Artagon, CityLab10 and CBK Rotterdam.

  • Portrait of Gabriel Fontana © Laurine Gentillehomme, 2023.
Video portrait by Stimuleringsfonds, 2021.