Drawing inspiration from Brazilian street life and carnival culture, the brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana combine found objects – such as scraps of wood and fabric off-cuts – with advanced technologies to create a vibrant, energetic and definitively Brazilian approach to design.
Taking their cue from everyday scenarios and using unexpected combinations of found materials – such as rubber hose, tissue paper, string or furry toys –Fernando and Humberto Campana transform modest materials into objects that celebrate the discarded and mundane and are instilled with the spirit of contemporary Brazil that they describe as “zest for life.
Neither brother intended to be a designer. Humberto, born in the Rio Claro area of São Paulo in 1953, originally studied law, but began to design furniture in the mid 1980s after Fernando, born in Brotas in 1961, had completed his architectural degree.
Central to their practice is the importance of materials. The challenge, as the Campanas see it, is to transform something poor into something decadent and opulent. In the Vermelha chair, the brothers tie and weave an abundance of brilliantly coloured cord through a metal frame. Their Sushi chair transforms strips of brightly coloured plastic and carpet underlay into decorative rolls which then ‘upholster’ a basic frame. This process of transformation has injected a new energy into contemporary design by presenting a bold, vibrant alternative to the rationalist ideals of the long dominant European modern movement.
The material tradition of Brazil is based on craftsmanship and economy of means. By experimenting with high and low tech materials and using artisanal techniques, the Campanas are able to harness the energies of their inherited tradition while defining a new aesthetic based on experimentation and advanced technologies. They have also created a fresh and surprising way of looking at things. By weaving the fabric of São Paulo into their objects, the brothers present a very personal portrait of their city. “Our designs were born in the street, from the urban kitsch of the popular quarters and contact with nature,? they say. “Whenever we can, we go back to our farm. Nature revitalises our ideas…
In 2009, ten years after the exhibition which launched their career, the Estúdio Campana was chosen to celebrate its anniversary at the Vitra Design Museum, in Germany, which also commemorated a decade of existence.
Humberto and Fernando Campana were awarded the Special Prize at the Museu da Casa Brasileira (Brazilian House Museum), in 2001, and Designer of the Year, by the Design Miami in 2008.