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Recently Fernando and Humberto Campana were interviewed by Design Boom. The two renowned brazlian designers, resposibles for the “Estudio Campana” delivered some interesting answers that help us to understand their design philosophy.
The brazilian creatives’ practice is deeply embedded in the materials that they use, their chosen mediums ultimately dictating how each of their projects will evolve through casual construction. The Campanas have collaborated extensively with international brands across the globe including Alessi, Baccarat, Edra, Lasvit and Louis Vuitton applying their handcrafted techniques and humble materials to new contexts through transformation and reinvention.
1. What originally made you want to go into the field of design?
Humberto Campana: After graduating from law school, I lived in a small town in the state of bahia. I came back to Sao Paulo in the late 70s and began to attend iron and terra cotta sculpture workshops and jewelry classes. Then I set up a small studio of handcraft products and began to sell baskets and mirrors framed with shells. I invited Fernando to help me on a busy holiday season order.
Fernando Campana: I was only called to make ‘deliveries’, and I soon realized that there was much more to achieve with my brother. Our beginning was not planned at all. I graduated in architecture and at the time I was working at the XVII Sao Paulo art biennial where i had the chance to get to know the work of artists such as keith harring, anish kapoor and daniel buren.
2. What particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?
FC + HC: We lived a childhood surrounded by nature and that’s what brought us to design. When we were kids we built ourselves a personal universe and that’s what made us creative. Our father was an agricultural engineer and our mother was a primary school teacher. We lived in a house with an unpaved basement and a vast backyard, surrounded by fruit trees and streams leading to waterfalls and lakes. We would go to the cinema in the evening and during the day we would have fun in the nature around the farm. We remember that we used to play at recreating the settings of films and making tree-houses using bamboo and other plants. There were many bamboo plantations in the area.
3. Who / what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?
FC + HC: Brazilian multiculturalism nourishes our creations. but we were also influenced by the work of Lina Bo Bardi and Oscar Niemeyer. We really appreciate their constant search to find ways to look at Brazil from new angles.
4. Overall, what would you say is your studio’s strongest asset and how have you developed that skill over time?
FC + HC: We have kept the same idea since the beginning. We still have a small studio in Sao Paulo with a tight-knit crew of 12 people. We still have the same process of creating the prototypes here and we still work with artisans to rescue endangered popular traditions. We want to have the possibility to follow the production closely and to maintain the uniqueness of an artwork which is conceived with care and hard work.
5. What production techniques and materials have you enjoyed working with most? which ones would you like to explore further?
FC + HC: We really like to work with natural fibers such as bamboo, capacho (natural coconut fiber rug) and wicker. We enjoy exploring the different techniques we can use to work with these materials. For example the process of weaving that we have used recurrently and is featured in the pieces of our racket and detonado collections.
6. What do you consider to be the most interesting developments in the field of design today, and why?
FC + HC: The 3-D printing and its time and environmentally conscious sides as it allows us to cut down on the back and forth exchanges with our counterparts and the waste of raw materials. when you want to build a chair or a table there is a whole thinking process behind: how will the piece be? what dimensions will it have? how heavy is the wood? does the wood come from sustainable and legal sources? i think today design goes far beyond the functionality or the form. it is a political tool.
7. How – and to what extent – do other creative fields influence your design work?
FC + HC: Sometimes we touch design, sometimes we touch art, architecture or interiors. We build bridges between disciplines. What matters is to be free to create without labels.
8. Who are the designers working today that you most admire? and those from the past?
FC + HC: From the past we admire Shiro kuramata, Achille Castiglioni and Ettore Sottsass. Nowadays, we admire Andrea Branzi, Ingo Maurer, Joris Laarman and Maarten Baas. From Brazil we love the work of Oscar Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi. But design is blooming in Brazil and there are quite a few young designers that have developed their own and unique ways such as Rodrigo Almeida, Tete Knecht, Carol Gay, Mana Bernardes, Zaninini de Zanine and Leo Capote.
9. How do you try to keep your ideas fresh?
FC + HC: Brazil is a very important source of inspiration for us. Brazilian multiculturalism nourishes our creations. Translating brazilian identity into design is one of our most important challenges but we actually find inspiration everywhere we go. Mainly in life’s magnitude, in nature and in craft traditions that are disappearing.
Fernando and Humberto Campana were speakers at the 2015 WHAT DESIGN CAN DO! conference — an international platform about the power of design, promoting design as a catalyst of change and renewal and a way of addressing the societal questions of our time. formed in 2011 by a group of designers from various fields, it aims at showcasing best practices and visions, raising discussions and facilitating collaboration between disciplines, raising awareness among the public for the potential of creativity. at the same time, WHAT DESIGN CAN DO! calls on designers to take responsibility and consider how their work can impact the wider society.