The way the Campana brothers receive their guests says it all. Visitors are not taken to some glamorous showroom, but meet Fernando and Humberto Campana in their studio. Or better: in their São Paulo workshop full of artisans working on the production of their designs. The Campana brothers have never tried to live up to their international star status.

The Campana workshop is a simple space, stacked with materials waiting to be turned into one of the iconic designs that the Campanas have been making since the 1980s. The handwork of the artisans is visible in all products that leave the studio. With their furniture designs, interior designs and urban sculptures, the Campanas tell humorous stories, blurring the boundaries between design, art and ordinary products, between factory products and unique handwork, between waste and luxury goods. Their work has it all.

Mix of styles, materials and worlds

The Campanas draw inspiration from both nature and the city, or for instance from ways to prepare food. The brothers display an unconventional method of mixing styles, materials and worlds that seem incompatible. Their free manner of expression often contains a critical note on current developments in their native Brazil. At the same time, their designs always reflect a surprisingly imaginative and futuristic view on sitting, on being, on living in our world.

Take the Banquete chair made of cuddly animals that make you think of eating meat, mass-production, extinct animals, yet it also puts a smile on your face. Or take the Café chair from the Transplastic series, or the Detonado designs. They make you think about the way the world is flooded by cheap and uniform plastic terrace chairs, and how this affects local handwork, and how in our culture of throwaway consumption so little is repaired nowadays.

Fernando and Humberto Campana provoke such thoughts through their innovative, integrated designs. For me their work resists snobbishness and criticises elitist behaviour and general ideas about what is considered good taste. Their pleasant anarchism is extremely catching. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that the Campana brothers will come to Amsterdam and take the stage at What Design Can Do 2015.

For those who can’t wait till spring, the book Campana Brothers: Complete Works (So Far), published in 2010 is a great way to prepare for the designers’ arrival next spring.

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