Brazil is in the chairs, tables, sofas, lighting and assorted designs that brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana have made over the past 20 years from their studio in São Paulo. An eclectic, colourful city, “People sell things from all over; it’s crazy!” remarks Fernando. “It forces you to see beauty where beauty doesn’t exist. If you want to create something, it’s even more stimulating.”
They employ a mix of 10 architects, designers, students and artisans including sewers, who they call family and to whom they delegate and direct work that comes from all over the world. The Campanas spend half the year in Europe and the other half in Brazil, so with this team they can digest all the projects on offer. The studio, though small, is big on research, innovations and concept development. The workbenches are laden with materials, the courtyard used for experimenting with prototypes. In Brazil and beyond, the Campana studio is one that young designers grapple to intern with.
In 2007 they were offered the Yes Hotel Athens project, a renovation of the Olympic Palace Hotel, which has lead to a satellite studio in Athens - much to the excitement of a group of local architects, designers and craftspeople.
Dakis Ioannou is a renowned art collector, founder of the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art in Greece, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, among other museum boards internationally. He is the new owner of Olympic Palace Hotel, originally built in 1958 by architect Iasonas Rizos and considered one of the best examples of modernist architecture in the city.
Ioannou's vision was to create a working studio, where under the direction of the Campanas, a group of local architecture and design students from University of Thessaly, created new interiors, furniture, samples and prototypes that explored methods and techniques, and re-used and re-mixed the furniture and materials from the original hotel. The Campanas visited every few months and at other times worked remotely. Drawings, materials and prototypes went back and forth constantly.
Keeping some of the original features of the building including the black marble staircase, the team re-mixed and re-used chairs, created a favela wall and column made from fragments of abandoned pieces of furniture collected from the street, a multi-prismatic wash basin, a fragmented desk and a range of crockery. Life-size models were created during the process in collaboration with local technicians and artisan craftsmen, and everything was tested in the hotel’s 'pilot room' and adjusted accordingly. The opening of the New Hotel Athens in July this year marks the first hotel project designed by the Campana Brothers.