The Campana Brothers’ Undersea World

Published May 24, 2013

The only way to properly view the Campana brothers’ latest, “Ocean Project”—the Brazilian design duo’s first solo show for a French gallery, at Paris’s Carpenter’s Workshop—is when no one else is there, so you can pretend you’re a pilot fish floating from one turquoise-covered room to the next. To display this collection, the result of six months of D.I.Y. craftsmanship using their “Sushi” technique from 2002 (maki rolls of multicolored felt, rubber carpet, and Eva foam-type material they developed to produce upholstery in a non-traditional way), Humberto and Fernando Campana took to the Pantone catalogue to select a liquid rainbow of blue-greens that were applied to the floors, walls, and ceilings of the windowless space. The result is simultaneously baroque and minimal, an undersea trip to showcase the chic salvage works that set the Campanas apart in the design world.

The Ocean Project’s works—extra-large, undersea-rainbow-blue, lily-pad-style “Vitória Régia” stools; cloisonné-like swirling surface pattern cabinets; and amoeba-type layers framing free-form Pendant mirrors—reminds us that the world is, after all, mostly water. “For this exhibition, we wanted to create an art installation where mirrors connect with other realities and become synonyms with other dimensions,” says Fernando Campana. “We created the Pendant mirrors because when you put them in a room, they twist and turn, absorbing the space and reflecting what’s around them.”

The Campanas are on a roll this spring and summer. Today, the new building of the Stedelijk Museum in Hertogenbosch, Holland will open with a Campana-designed entry and auditorium, sharing space with other areas of the museum created by artists. Plus, their first solo gallery show in the U.S. will open on June 5 in New York, at Friedman Benda. This larger show will include more pieces and new materials: fish skin, stretched cowhide, amethyst-embedded glass, and brass treated like paper lace. On July 6, a specially created collection of design and jewelry (in collaboration with Roman jeweler Fabio Salini) called “Dangerous Luxury” will debut in Monte Carlo as part of the 150th anniversary of the Monte Carlo Société des Bains de Mer.

“OCEAN PROJECT” IS ON VIEW AT CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP, PARIS, THROUGH JULY 27.