Antibodies by the Campana Brothers
at Vitra Design Museum 2



Here's a selection of projects and products by Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana that are currently on show at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, as part of a retrospective of the brothers' work.


The work is grouped into nine themes: Fragments, Hybrids, Objets Trouvés, Knots, Sticks, Organics, Flexed Planes, Paper Pieces and Clusters. Top image: Children chair, untitled, 2005. Above image: Screen, untitled, 2006.


More information and exhibition photographs in our previous story. Above: Fruit bowl, Nazareth, bronze, 2008. For Bernardaud © Bernardaud, Paris.


All photographs by Fernando Laszlo and © Estudio Campana unless otherwise stated.

Here are some of the objects on show, with explanations about each group from the Vitra Design Museum. Above: Figure for stage design Peter and Wolf, Duck, 2008.



“Fragments” shows objects which the Campanas constructed through an assembly of similar parts: a new version of their famous “Favela” armchair from 1991 belongs to this group as well as an abstract terracotta sculpture of shattered forms, which Humberto realized in 1982 – several years before the brothers began working together.


In fact, the majority of the exhibition’s groups consist of both early and recent works and thus demonstrate the continuous development of their interests. Above: Waste basket, untitled, 2008.


Following a number of experiments in the mid-1990s, the Campanas have returned in recent years to the combination of contradictory materials.


The exhibition’s largest object, a sculptural seating of wicker and crystals, realized by the Campana brothers on the occasion of their appointment as Design Miami’s “Designers of the Year” in 2008, will be presented in an installation with other “Hybrids” such as the “Animado” rug of cowhide and synthetic turf from 1997. Above: Seating landscape, Diamantina III, 2008.


Above: Una Famiglia, 2006.

Objets Trouvés

Many of the Campanas’ artistic techniques recall methods utilised by surrealist artists in their painting, graphics, sculpture or film.


They link the influence of Surrealism on 20th South American art with the widespread practice of recycling prefabricated objects in their native Brazil and reinterpret these as materials for their own designs. Above: Tatoo, 1993, prototype for Fontana Arte.


Above: Jenette, 2005, for Edra © Edra.


Above: Screen, Cerca II, 1994.


Above: Vermelha, 1993, for Edra © Edra.

Knots / Sticks

Numerous of the Campanas’ furniture and accessories are created solely from linear structures.


Seemingly they depict patterns of the natural and urban jungle as the crucial coordinates of Brazilian life and a permanent inspirational source of Fernando and Humberto Campana, “following amorphous ideas” Fernando Campana². Above: Yellow Corallo, 2004.


The exhibition shows these sources in slideshows with many examples of their own photographs as well as in two short films shot by the designers themselves: an annotated tour of the center of Sao Paulo and a view of their tree house outside their home town of Brotas. Above:  Fios, 1990.


Above:  Vase, Bola, 2001.


Above: Relief, untitled, 2005 © Collection Alexander von Vegesack. Photo by Andreas Sütterlin.


Above: Mirror, untitled, 2008.


Above: Screen, Escultura, 1993.


The fascination nature exerts on Fernando and Humberto Campana is especially evident in numerous pieces of furniture and accessories that take the form of living creatures: in two fruit bowls from 1990, for example, in Edra’s sofa “Kaiman Jacaré”, in their “Drosera” wall pockets for the Vitra Edition or their “Mandacarú” toys.


Here as well, the subject will be illustrated by a slide show of some of their excursions. Above: Wall pockets, Drosera Copper & Velvet, 2007, for Vitra © Vitra.


Above: Aster Papposus, 2005, model for Edra.


Above: Kaiman Jacaré, 2006, for Edra © Edra.


Above: Mandacarú Formiga, 2006, prototype for Alessi.

Flexed Planes

The works from the second half of the 1990s seem to hold an exceptional position within their oeuvre.


All of a sudden we come across functional objects in sleek geometric forms made of industrial materials: the “Inflavel” side table produced by MoMA in New York for a number of years, the “Labirinto” shelf or the “Cone” armchair, both from 1997, are the most well known examples. Above: Side table, Inflavel, 1995, for MoMA, New York.


At second sight, however, we recognize that these objects too owe their inspiration to a genuine Brazilian motif: the audacious Modernism of an Oscar Niemeyer or Roberto Burle Marx, which are already reflected in Humberto Campana’s sculptures of the early 1980s. Above: Two-seater, Gangorra, 1997.


Above: Humberto Campana, sculpture, untitled, 1982.

Paper Pieces

The Campanas work almost exclusively with inexpensive everyday materials and discovered the versatility of corrugated cardboard early on.


Following a series of Vitra Design Museum’s workshops in Boisbuchet and parallel to the preparation of this exhibition, they are working with Vitra Design Museum on the development of several industrially produced utensils made of paper that the exhibition will present for the first time, along with a documentation of the process of design and production. Above: Papel sofa, 1993.


Above: Fruit bowl, untitled, 2008, prototype.


The earliest article of daily use in the exhibition is a mirror – one of many that Humberto Campana designed in the early 1980s, excessively decorated with hundreds of seashells he had collected himself at the beach.


This exuberant sensualism too is a motif which the Campanas’ work repeats in the most diverse of forms. Above: Harumaki, 2004.


In their limited series of “Multidao” or “Banquete” armchairs, for example, Vitra Design Museum which have fetched top auction prices in recent years, the Campanas succeeded in using this impulse for their invention of new materials – another example of the recycling that has a constant presence in the streets of Sao Paulo. Above: Stool, Vitória Régia, 2002.


Above: Chair, Banquete, 2002.


Above: Chair, Sushi, 2002, for Edra © Edra.

More about the Campana Brothers on Dezeen:



Cipria fro Edra


Design Miami Chat Show


HSBC Private Bank Lounge


Dezeen video interview 1


Dezeen video interview 2


Dezeen video interview 3


Dezeen video interview 4


Movie: at GlassLab


Terrastool for Galerie Kreo


Camper Store in London






At the V&A


TransPlastic 2




For Artecnica


For Alessi


At Albion Gallery 


More at Albion Gallery


Disney Chairs


Camper Store in Berlin

Posted on Tuesday June 16th 2009 at 5:20 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Prof. Z

    great…. but i donnot forget Andrea Branzi

  • Jason Phillips

    What a great article.

  • dsgngurunyc

    Mmm, a tricky one for me. For while I am not the greatest fan of childlike design, and certainly prefer poetic work based on form and that stirs something in me, it is impossible not to admire the Campana brothers. Of their genre, they do it by far the best! there is always a child’s happy eye in their work and it varies from something that one would want to find in a Brazilian beach house to something in a picture in the corner of a Dr Seuss’s story. Either way, it is not possible to see a piece of their work without smiling. Much collected (fortunately) and much copied (unfortunately), this is one talented duo that I have to keep in the hall of fame! Alas an outpouring of students trying to emulate this ease of work , and failing for two reasons. Firstly anything similar will always look like an imitation, and secondly they are not Brazilian!

  • Rodrigo Almeida

    The masters of Brazilian design !!! Brilliants ;- )

  • tanya telford – T

    definitely a couple of things here id like to buy,

  • JJ

    Seeing these pieces immediately conjured images of myself in my imaginary workshop, welding and weaving at 3:30 am. In that sense, these are directly inspiring in that sense.

    Many of these designs appear to solve “problems” in an admirably simplistic way. It would be interesting to see their work deviate from furniture to a greater extent. Industrial design, architecture, and particularly landscape design, could benefit from this influence.

  • christopher

    I may not like everything on all levels, but the breadth of innovation and creativity is astounding – these guys are truly amazing.

  • Prof. Z

    no Philippe Starck , no Karim Rashid, no Marcel Wanders,no Jaime Hayon, no Ora Ito aso BUT
    1. Jonathan Ive, Apple
    2. Patricia Urquiola, furniture designer
    3. Naoto Fukasawa, ex-IDEO / industrial designer
    4. Yves Behar, fuseproject
    5. Hella Jongerius, furniture designer
    6. “CAMPANA brothers”* , furniture designers (* CAP by me)
    7. Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, Industry Facility
    8. Bouroullec brothers , furniture designers
    9. Shai Agassi, Better Place
    10. Konstantin Grcic, furniture designer

  • dsgnr

    if you want to call this design …

    I mean, there’s hardly ANY projectual idea behind this objects, except for some small constructive details and the main (and only) Campana concept which is doing “furniture” with whatever discarded materials they can find.
    I do respect a lot the idea of doing new objects with discarded materials, but the fact that these pieces are mostly one-offs or very limited series that cost over 5.000 dollars makes me consider this art.
    There are no commercial, functional or industrial aspects considered in these objects, they are conceptual exercises ( sometimes beautiful but most of the times heavy looking and oddly proportioned) that I can hardly consider this as DESIGN.

  • Prof. Z

    no more precise frontier between art and design …as there is no precise frontier between marketing, communication and design ..

  • sebastian

    prof. z … i know jonathan was not all pleased to be on that list ;) as a father, i much like your definitions as they seem to me a loving excuse for anything –

    on the campanas: wonderful people – integer and reserved. you may argue their designs but they need no campaign to get their message accross. they are a rare kind in this zoo.

  • Prof. Z

    Top of the list:
    i sent this only because Campana brothers are there… Sorry for some colareral dommages in design world war . It’s not the Michelin list for french haute cuisine.* ** **** *****Don’t kill you!
    Don’t cry California on the top Jonathan Ives , Ora Ito , your “brother ” in France is not there too….poor baby star!!!
    Hella Jongerius, is there and not Marcel wanders…and what about STARck?
    PS: i play my role, it’s a play list, nothing else…

  • AC

    They are not brazilian? Where are they from?

  • Luciano N. Carvalho

    Yes, they're brazilian. From a little city near to São Paulo.