Antibodies / Campana Brothers / Curating Design / Design / design process / Designers / Furniture

Antibodies: The Works of Fernando & Humberto Campana

AntiBodies, Image courtesy dezeen

Antibodies: The Works of Fernando & Humberto Campana 1989 – 2009 at Vitra Design Museum exhibition, Weil am Rhein, 2010.

Designed by the Basel-based studio Groenlandbasel, Fernando and Humberto


Knots and sticks section, Fragments behind

Fernando and Humberto Campana, are some of the highly established designers of our time. Their work is being recognised for the way they impart a distinctive and individual language to their objects. Their brutalistic, surrealistic furniture sculptures are part of the emerging trend of Design Art, and most of their designs are created in limited series or as one-off pieces. Their designs often go directly into private or public collections without being subjected to regular use. Their work focuses on the design process, but does not address the issue of mass production. The paradox here is that they work almost exclusively with cheap everyday materials, yet their creations are rarely used in everyday life.

Paper pieces collection

Hybrids section

The exhibition catalogue explains that this display is a retrospective of the Campanas’ work, offering a comprehensive overview of their work to date, featuring a large number of prototypes, experiments, models and art works as well as films, interviews and photos. The exhibition is thematic and has nine sections; Biography, Fragments, Hybrids, Objets Trouvés , Knots / Sticks, Organics, Flexed Planes, Paper Pieces, and Clusters. (Figures 4,5,6) ‘the exhibition highlights the formal variety of the works while always keeping the design process transparent’[1].  Each section comprises iconic key objects, with compositions from their early and recent years, thus demonstrating their continuous development in that area. The objects are chosen for their significance in defining their careers, as well as showing formulations of their creative principles. The Campanas worked with the VitraDesignMuseum on the development of industrially produced utensils made of paper. These experiments were exhibited along with documentation of the process of design and production. The Campanas created a special installation for the VitraDesignMuseum for the exhibition which was displayed in its stairway.

Fragments series

The core exhibition was 600 to 800 m² and contained approximately 70 pieces of furniture, 13 lamps, 8 pieces of jewellery and clothing, 50 domestic objects, 20 art objects, 3 architectural models, 25 objects that the Campanas collected themselves, 4 films, 1 slideshow, approx. 10 blow-up photos.[2]

Detail of Display platform

The display of the objects is set up on a tilted platform, which could be a metaphor for the uneasiness of where these objects belong; on the floor as everyday objects, or on the pedestal as an art object (Figure 7). Apart from this deviation, there is little indication of the actual design process, as the prototypes could be mistaken for the final object and vice versa. The labels are minimal, with the supporting wall text being insufficient and rather tedious to read or locate (Figure 8). This exhibition states its desire to bring to attention the Campanas’ working methods and sources of inspiration (Brazil’s forests, improvisations by street hawkers, slums, film, music, fine art) but does little to unravel complex the design process. 

Labels and wall text used for exhibit

All images courtesy Dezeen

[1] Dezeen, ‘Antibodies by Campana Brothers at Vitra Design Museum’ in Dezeen blog archive, <> [accessed on 15/05/2012].

[2] Dezeen, ‘Antibodies by Campana Brothers at Vitra Design Museum’ in Dezeen blog archive, <> [accessed on 15/05/2012].


One thought on “Antibodies: The Works of Fernando & Humberto Campana

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