11 July 2013

Campanas’ Ocean

Written by Published in Design

Surprising combinations sometimes lead to a delightful result… The exhibition of Fernando and Humberto Campana, pioneers of sustainable design, at the prominent Parisian Carpenters Workshop Gallery, certainly is a stunning example

campana brothersThe two Brazilian brothers, who live and work in Sao Paulo where their studio ‘Estudio Campana’ is based, have received many awards, and most recently the prestigious ‘Designers of the year’ (2012) by Maison & Objets, the French fair for interior design.

The Campanas always have had a special connection with France as numerous projects can prove it, be it the very limited collection of polos for Lacoste or the Suite ‘Fernando & Humberto’ designed for the Lutetia Hotel located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The ‘Ocean Collection’ is nevertheless the first exhibition held by a Parisian gallery. Innovative and surprising, the Carpenters Workshop Gallery exhibits pieces halfway between art and design, understand ‘functional sculpture’ as Julien Lombrail, director of the gallery, calls it.

Fernando and Humberto have been working together for 30 years, but it is in 1993 that they have made a name for themselves in the design world with ‘Vermelha Chair’. The vibrant-red coloured chair, probably one of their most famous works, is made from 500 meters of cotton rope. The whole gives form to a dynamic and complex structure that can only be handmade; ‘The Vermelha Chair’ is an homage to chaos. It is a portrait of Brazil, a melting pot of culture and races.’ Humberto explains. When it was first exposed in a gallery in Sao Paulo, the art piece was far to have unanimous support but was facing cynical attitudes. A few years later, Massimo Morrozi, the art director of Edra, decided to produce the chair in a limited edition; this was the starting point of their worldwide success.

In 2003, Edra edited a new chair from the two brothers, the ‘Favela Chair’. A strong name that makes sense when you know it is made from Brazilian pines, the same wood used by inhabitants of the favelas to create their homes. Not only the chair is inspired by the inhabitants of shantytowns but is also produced by them. Each piece of the ‘Favela Chair’ is thus unique and this is one of the greatest strength of the Campanas’ work. Actually, the love they share for their country make them socially engaged and drive them to create jobs in poor communities. Their all-time crave has always been to humanize design; highlighting local handcraft, they want to ‘create a bridge between the primitive artisanal universe and the contemporary industrialized world’.

CAMPANA Ocean Collection 02

At the same time, they worked on a collection starting from chairs to sofas and cabinets called ‘Sushi’. Furniture is made from felt and textiles rolled into rings making it look like Japanese dishes. This playful mix of mediums and colours makes the Campanas’ work a nonconformist design. This very colourful furniture recalls us the carnival culture of Brazil. Finding inspiration in the streets, the two brothers explain: ‘translating the Brazilian identity into design is one of our most important challenges’.

‘Ocean Collection’ is an original reworking of the ‘Sushi Collection’ of 2002. It was specially designed for Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which has been fully redecorated for the occasion. Once arrived in the gallery, you are surrounded by turquoise; blue is everywhere from the carpet to the ceiling and give intensity to the exhibited pieces. On your right, three giant tools welcome you to have a sit and contemplate the gallery.

CAMPANA Ocean Collection 03All pieces exhibited are made of felt, rubber carpet and EVA. You will be surprised to find out that these mediums come from flip-flops. However, Fernando and Humberto give a very special importance to mediums when creating pieces of design. At first, they selected cheap and ordinary materials because of a lack of means, now it has become a conscious choice. EVA, rubber or even stuffed toy animals are not being used for their original purpose but constitute the very coveted objects. The Campanas are used to recycling and are even the first designers who have employed waste in their production.

While exploring ‘Ocean Collection’, you will meet a beautiful buffet and cabinet. White, blue and green spirals counterbalance the right-angled structures of the furniture. Arrived in the major room, mirrors are hanging all over the space and seem to be floating in the air as seaweed could be in the ocean.

Campana Brothers ‘Ocean collection’ is on 22 May – 27 July 2013
Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 54 rue de la Verrerie, Paris


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