Messing with the Moderns

"Campana Brothers: Complete Works (So Far)"

The great modernist chair is Mies Van Der Rohe’s design for the German Pavilion of the Ibero-American Exposition in Barcelona in 1929 (the “Barcelona” chair, now produced by Knoll)—a paeon to the international style in stainless steel and leather that has imbued interiors from bank foyers to Manhattan apartments with its cool austerity throughout the 20th century. Minimal, practical and monochrome, it’s exactly the kind of design that is overturned by the work of Brazilian duo Fernando and Humberto Campana, who since 1983 have been ingeniously crafting undeniably modern forms out of the most unlikely materials—from scraps of wood found in the favelas of Sao Paolo (Favela Chair, 1994) to coiled lengths of industrial rope (Vermelha Chair, 1993) and even plush soft toys (Alligator Chair, 2004). Keen collaborators, the brothers have ongoing partnerships with Alessi (producing the Blow Up series of anatomized home products) and Italian furniture company Edra (who have manufactured Campana chairs since 1998), and have also produced a range of shoes and accessories with Australian brand Melissa. At this month’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan they present not only the fruits of their partnership with ECAL and Reuge, but also a champagne-tasting pavilion for Veuve Cliquot, inspired by the cool chambers of the company’s vineyards as well as by the wiry mess of the Campanas' own Corallo Chair. In addition, this month sees the release of Campana Brothers: Complete Works (So Far), a monograph published by Rizzoli and featuring essays from luminaries including Deyan Sudjic, the curator of London’s Design Museum.

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