Interview with Brazilian designers Fernando&Humberto Campana

"Our beginning was not planned at all": story of two talented brothers.

Interview by DesignBoom

#Art & Culture
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img.0Image courtesy of Estudio Campana, photo by Fernando Laszlo

Since 1983, brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana have been working together, designing by doing, making and watching craftsmen in action. The Brazilian creatives’ practice is deeply embedded in the materials that they use, their chosen mediums ultimately dictating how each of their projects will evolve through casual construction. The Campanas have collaborated extensively with international brands across the globe including Alessi, Baccarat, Edra, Lasvit and Louis Vuitton applying their handcrafted techniques and humble materials to new contexts through transformation and reinvention. Designboom gets personal with the Campana brothers finding out what has shaped their design principles and philosophies, which methods and materials they have enjoyed working with most, and what they believe their strongest skill is.

 

img.1Café chair from ‘transplastic’ collection, 2006. Chair made out of wicker woven structure embracing a colored plastic chair, unlimited edition. H90 x L95 x W80 cm, 12 kg. image © fernando laszlo

Designboom: what originally made you want to go into the field of design?

Humberto Campana: after graduating from law school, I lived in a small town in the state of bahia. I came back to sao paulo in the late 70s and began to attend iron and terra cotta sculpture workshops and jewelry classes. then I set up a small studio of handcraft products and began to sell baskets and mirrors framed with shells. I invited Fernando to help me on a busy holiday season order.

Fernando Campana: I was only called to make ‘deliveries’, and I soon realized that there was much more to achieve with my brother. Our beginning was not planned at all. I graduated in architecture and at the time I was working at the XVII Sao Paulo art biennial where I had the chance to get to know the work of artists such as Keith Harring, Anish Kapoor and Daniel Buren.

img.2Café chair from ‘transplastic’ collection, 2006. Chair made out of wicker woven structure embracing a colored plastic chair, unlimited edition. H90 x L75 x W75 cm, 12 kg. image © fernando laszlo

img.3Wicker armchair, 2006. Armchair made out of wicker woven structure in the shape of a sofa and side table. H65 x L185 x W179 cm, 25 kg. image © fernando laszlo

 

DB: what particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?

FC and HC: we lived a childhood surrounded by nature and that’s what brought us to design. When we were kids we built ourselves a personal universe and that’s what made us creative. Our father was an agricultural engineer and our mother was a primary school teacher. we lived in a house with an unpaved basement and a vast backyard, surrounded by fruit trees and streams leading to waterfalls and lakes. We would go to the cinema in the evening and during the day we would have fun in the nature around the farm. We remember that we used to play at recreating the settings of films and making tree-houses using bamboo and other plants. There were many bamboo plantations in the area.

 

DB: who / what has been the biggest influence on your work to date? 

FC and HC: brazilian multiculturalism nourishes our creations. But we were also influenced by the work of lina bo bardi and oscar niemeyer. We really appreciate their constant search to find ways to look at brazil from new angles.

img.4‘Transneomatic’ collection for Artecnica, 2009. ‘Transneomatic’ centrepiece made out of wicker and tire. H10 x D42 cm. image © artecnica

img.5‘Transneomatic’ collection for artecnica, 2009. ‘Transneomatic’ centrepiece made out of wicker and tire. H7.5 x D57 cm. image © artecnica

 

DB: overall, what would you say is your studio’s strongest asset and how have you developed that skill over time?

FC and HC: we have kept the same idea since the beginning. We still have a small studio in Sao Paulo with a tight-knit crew of 12 people. We still have the same process of creating the prototypes here and we still work with artisans to rescue endangered popular traditions. We want to have the possibility to follow the production closely and to maintain the uniqueness of an artwork which is conceived with care and hard work.

 

DB: what production techniques and materials have you enjoyed working with most? which ones would you like to explore further?

FC and HC: we really like to work with natural fibers such as bamboo, capacho (natural coconut fiber rug) and wicker. We enjoy exploring the different techniques we can use to work with these materials. For example the process of weaving that we have used recurrently and is featured in the pieces of our racket and detonado collections.

img.6‘sushi cabinet’ from the ‘sushi collection’, 2013cabinet made out of sushi rolls handcrafted in carpet, rubber, EVA, fabric and anti-slip mat covering stainless-steel structureH120 x L40 x W180 cm, 50 kglimited edition of 8 pieces + 4 APimage © fernando laszlo

img.7‘harumaki bench’ from the ‘sushi’ collection, 2007bench made out of sushi rolls handcrafted in carpet, rubber, EVA, fabric and anti-slip mat covering wooden structure with stainless steel feetH45 x L120 x W60 cm, 30 kglimited edition of 25 pieces + 5 APimage © fernando laszlo

 

DB: what do you consider to be the most interesting developments in the field of design today, and why?

FC and HC: the 3-D printing and its time and environmentally conscious sides as it allows us to cut down on the back and forth exchanges with our counterparts and the waste of raw materials. when you want to build a chair or a table there is a whole thinking process behind: how will the piece be? what dimensions will it have? how heavy is the wood? does the wood come from sustainable and legal sources? i think today design goes far beyond the functionality or the form. it is a political tool.

img.8‘sonia diniz chair’ from the ‘sushi’ collection, 2002. bench made out of sushi rolls handcrafted in carpet, rubber, EVA, fabric and anti-slip mat covering wooden structure with stainless steel feet. H80 x L65 x W65 cm, 25 kg. limited edition of 35 pieces + 5 AP. image © fernando laszlo 

 

DB: how – and to what extent – do other creative fields influence your design work?

FC and HC: sometimes we touch design, sometimes we touch art, architecture or interiors. We build bridges between disciplines. What matters is to be free to create without labels.

img.9‘The armchair of thousand eyes’ realized in collaboration with galleria o. and fendi gilded brass, fendi ‘bag bugs’ in shearling, kidassia, mongolia, rabbit furW 140 x 115 x H 88 cm (approx.)

img.10Detail of ‘the armchair of thousand eyes’

 

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