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The Brazilian Campana Brothers have garnered a reputation as one of the most important design duos in the Southern Hemisphere by doing what they do best: seeing the value in the unexpected. Their latest show – their first in the United States – “Campana Brothers: Concepts” at Friedman Benda (June 5 – July 3), is no exception, as the brothers present luxurious furniture that proves their love of all things jettison shows no sign of abating.
Humberto and Fernando Campana seek to keep traditional crafts alive in a contemporary way, and their most famous works are often a result of amassing found materials. Born out of their 2002 stuffed-animal furniture is a couch and banquette covered in a mass of leather stuffed alligators, a remnant of their humorous crocodile motifs in the Brazilian Baroque collection earlier this year. As with many of their pieces, the chair and sofa were constructed with social sustainability in mind, assembled locally by a Brazilian NGO.
Humberto stressed at a preview of the new designs that he, and his brother, hope to “continue the tradition of weaving and welding… traditions that are disappearing;” something they have made a point of doing in the design of the Racket chairs. Using traditional techniques to weave nylon string, the chairs are inspired by both tennis rackets and the people who weave in the streets of São Paolo, where their studio is based.
“Our work is inspired by nature,” Humberto said, “there is a big connection.” Natural materials have recurred throughout the brothers’ collections and among the new works is a gleaming glass cabinet encrusted with amethysts gathered from a local wholesaler near their studio. Humberto recalled, “Whenever I want to see nature… we go there.”
The brothers source natural materials from far beyond the confines of São Paolo; the 2013 Pirarucu Cabinet is covered in leather made from the gargantuan Pirarucu fish, bred on Amazonian fish farms. Wanting to respect nature while remaining sustainable, the project was an opportunity to work with and help those communities working on the farms in the Amazon.
“We like the time it takes to make a piece,” said Fernando, reflecting on the sustainability and process that weaves it way through the exhibition. Humberto elaborated: “materials allow us to investigate different concepts,” before adding, “we like the poetry, the instant, the moment, not the mathematics…process is much more important than the result.”