Humberto & Fernando Campana
Brazilians, born in 1953 and 1961
Humberto and Fernando, respectively trained as lawyer and architect, joined forces in 1983 to create modern design furnishings. The recognition of their talent was belated but international. They are today exhibited not only in Brazil, but also at the MoMA in New York, the Votra Museum in Germany, and the Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. At a time when most modern designers swore by minimalism, they offered creations made out of discarded materials, assembled randomly, voluntarily playing with imperfections and irrationality until transgressing established aesthetic norms. In 1989, their first exhibition displaying metal chairs was entitled “Uncomfortable” and was seen as the iconoclastic manifesto opposing modernist functionalism. “Design is not about functionality, today design is political. We can send a message through an object”. They strive to give prominence to local savoir-faire and ancient techniques by involving communities and use materials that are responsibly sourced or recycled. Assembling scraps of cloth, plastic tubing, wires, bamboos, toys, they aim to represent “Brazil in its beautiful chaos and de-constructiveness”.
The city they live in, São Paulo, especially fascinates them. “São Paulo is a textural city. It is this texture that makes it such a big mess with so many different volumes, shapes and colours… We try to bring these characteristics out in our work, and often in a literal way”, explained Fernando. Their inspiration comes from their beloved native country with its contradictions and absurdities, its multicultural character, its natural and urban jungles, its arts and crafts richness. An inspiration that results in a phantasmagoric and hitherto unseen design. In 1991, they caused a sensation with their Favela armchair, inspired by the Brazilian slums and consisting of small pieces of wood glued and nailed together in a chaotic fashion.