Studio Fontana

Gabriel Fontana is an independent designer and creative director. Drawing on a social design framework, his work proposes to reshape sports to support upcoming societal shifts.

In a time of great division, Gabriel’s strength is that he uses design effectively to influence how we interact. The goal of his methods is to give people a playful way of experiencing what the prevailing norms of identity, community and inclusion really mean, and how we can bring about change. He uses sport as a perfect metaphor of society, where the idea of playing ‘against each other’ is usually the norm.

In this context, Gabriel develops alternative team sports games that deconstruct group dynamics and promote empathy. 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 reimagines togetherness.

His work has earned widespread international acclaim within the realms of education, culture, and the sports industry. His games have been played in schools across Europe, at Nike World Headquarters (US) and presented in renowned museums such as MoMA (US), MAC/VAL (FR), W139 Amsterdam (NL), Design Milan Week (IT) amongst others.

Currently, Gabriel splits his time between Rotterdam (NL) and Paris (FR). He is a lecturer in the MA Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven (NL). Additionally, he has worked as a guest tutor at New York University (US), Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (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, including the Pierre Keller award in 2023, a nomination for the Dutch Design Awards in 2023, the Rotterdam New Talent Award in 2018 and Paris Design Forum in 2019. He has also received various prestigious design grants, including those from Stimuleringsfonds Talent Development, Artagon, CityLab10, and CBK Rotterdam.

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