Brazilian designers the Campana Brothers were in Milan to launch two new collections for Czech lighting brand Lasvit. We pinned down one half of the design duo, Fernando Campana, to talk about family, following your heart and their latest work.
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
I think to understand the synergy between me and Humberto. Sometimes it’s like two cops, the good guy and the bad guy, sometimes one is more hands on design while the other one is more finding inspiration… It’s organic, it rolls very easily because we are brothers and there is a friendship in between all this. We are creative partners but there is also the family side of things.
And do you get on well, do you argue about things?
Yes sometimes we argue, of course being brothers, Italians, living in Latin America, the blood is burning, but we always know how to create a space of tolerance between us which is very important.
And did you always know that you wanted to be a designer?
No, it happened by accident. My brother asked me for a helping hand in his studio in 1983. I was his delivery boy while I was finishing architecture school. I was training during the Bienal de São Paulo, so I have a very good background in art, I knew Anish Kapoor, Tony Cragg, Keith Haring, many many artists, so when I was helping my brother, I started giving him my ideas.
Your work has a really distinctive style, it’s quite unlike anything else, where does the confidence to be that different come from?
We’ve just tried to make a portrait of our environment in Brazil. We’ve tried to rescue things that are almost disappearing in our country. Hand crafted processes are a huge source of inspiration.
Can you tell me a little bit about the collections you’ve got here in Milan for Lasvit?
We have been approached by them many times, but we never had the chance to visit the factory before and this counts a lot when we are going to work for a company – we like to see the production. Of course glass is fascinating – you really have to be there to understand and to feel the spirit and what it can give to you. Glass as a liquid can work in many different situations, and here we decided to pick up all the colors that we have, the bright colors, and put them all in just one surface. This inspired the original Sushi Series, but now we call it Candy Collection because it looks like candy.
And tell me about the mushrooms in the basement that inspired the Fungo chandelier!
We went into the basement of the factory and saw mushrooms growing from the wall, from the wooden storage. We decided to make the Fungo chandelier, to create a contrast between the rigidity of the wood and the fluidity of the glass. The glass pieces are hand blown into a mold.
Where do your ideas come from?
All the time I have ideas, I look for them all the time, I just pay attention to what’s around me and, if I have a pen and a piece of paper to make the realization of the ideas, I can capture them. We are thinking about design all the time, and by being a small studio, we can take more care of the production, to participate in every step of the project.
And how does your process work from that initial spark right through to final product?
We prototype in our studio, this is the chance that we have to realize the ideas. It’s only when you start to give form to an idea, materially speaking, that you can see it for real. Sometimes we feel like kids that are never happy with things, the toys that they get for Christmas, but most of the time we are happy because we can see the construction immediately. Sometimes we pay more attention to one project, then we go back to another one that was in the past, we are always trying to bring out the ideas.
And what are you most proud of?
Being with the same person for 30 years, sharing creativity – for me is the most important.
And what advice would you give to a young designer?
Don’t follow trends, follow your heart or your sensibility, and be very critical with what you are doing.