On show at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Antibodies: The Works of Fernando and Humberto Campana traces their designs over two decades working together in their São Paulo studio. Unlike designers who are focused on the capabilities and focus of industry, brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana have always worked on ideas that may or may not involve the furniture industry but always connect to their homeland Brazil, to material experimentation and to big ideas concerned with globalisation sustainability.
A show that was initiated by the Vitra Design Museum and first launched in 2009, Antibodies: The Works of Fernando and Humberto Campana is still on the road, most recently at the The Palm Springs Art Museum where the context of the desert landscape is a strong backdrop to the colour and energy of the Campana's work.
Working together in São Paulo, Brazil, since 1989, Fernando and Humberto are designers rather than artists who create work that is functional – yet often described as whimsical – structurally complex and influenced by Brazil’s natural forms, street life, slums, and everyday materials including paper, wire, plastic, fabric, felt, carpet, rubber and wood, as well as art, film, dance and music. Describing their process as “a flirt with materials” the approach is always directed by the form and function of their work.
On exhibit are more than 70 pieces of furniture, prototypes, models, artwork, films, interviews, photographs, and a series of fascinating and quirky objects collected by the designers. There are well-known furniture pieces including the Kaiman Jakare, Aster Papposus and Boa sofas and the Favela and Vermelha armchairs produced by Italian furniture manufacturer Edra; the Banquete armchairs made out of soft toys and created by hand in a small series inside their São Paulo studio; and the Plastico Bolha easy chair made from layers of bubble wrap that when it went on show in London was famously 'unwrapped' during the exhibition set-up.
Probably most famous is the Vermelha armchair that is made from more than 500 metres of rope and the first piece produced by Edra of the Campana's work, and also the Campana's first piece to go into production. When Edra's art director Massimo Morozzi discovered the duo on a visit to Brazil in the 1990s, his request to see their folio resulted in a VHS tape showing the complex weaving process involved in making the Vermelha and dubbed with classical music to cover up the heated discussion between the brothers that originally accompanied the visuals. Such is their process, a weaving of ideas and approach that has seen their production so connected that there is no way of identifying Fernando or Humberto in the creative mix that is Estudio Campana.
An exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany. The Palm Springs Art Museum presentation was funded in part by Annette Bloch, the museum’s Architecture and Design Council, Kirk & Anne Douglas, and Yvonne & Steve Maloney. Stay tuned for where the exhibition will travel next.