The Campana Brothers on Design and Filipino Artisanship

On the second day of Manila FAME, CITEM welcomed noted Brazilian designers, Humberto and Fernando Campana a.k.a. “The Campana Brothers.”  They took the time from their busy schedules to come to the Philippines and see Manila FAME and spend time with Filipino young designers.

Humberto and Fernando Campana.

Humberto and Fernando Campana are renowned contemporary furniture designers. Their company, Campana Objetos is considered as one of the most interesting ateliers of  design and production of contemporary furniture. their most famous piece is the “Vermelha Chair” also known as the rope chair. They are the first Brazilian designers to have their work displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ironically, both brothers never expected that they will be working together. Humberto originally studied law while Fernando got a degree in architecture. Humberto, after realizing his passion for sculpture and design started his design studio.  Fernando would occasionally help Humberto meet orders, from that point on their partnership began. Humberto would get the feel of the material and the form while Fernando provides the ideas and the design process that is needed.

Their designs are mostly made out of found materials such as rope, wood scraps, recycled fabrics, toys, plastic tubes and aluminum. They want to give these materials a “second-life”, their designs’ eco-friendliness came out of necessity as buying new materials would cost a lot.

Their view on design is also rather inspirational. According to them “Design is not about functionality or practicality, Today, design is and can be political. You can send message through an object.”  


The Campana brothers on an interview with Ms. Daphne Oseña-Paez.

On a recent interview with Urban Zone host, Daphne Oseña-Paez the Campana brothers stated their views on Filipino design and artisanship. According to the brothers, since they’ve started working in design they’ve always wanted to visit the Philippines because they were attracted to the craftsmanship of the Filipinos. They are excited to visit the country and hopefully would get the chance to work with Filipino local companies in the future.

The Campana brothers admiring the local handicrafts at Manila FAME’s Creation Stations.

The brothers recalled that they started working with materials such as capiz  and abalone sourced from the Philippines. Fernando used to visit Humberto’s studio and help him cut capiz shells. After working with the material for a long time, they are very happy to see the many ways capiz shells are used in Philippine handicrafts.

According to the brothers, the Philippines beat São Paulo in terms of embellishments and handicrafts, for them Filipinos know how to do it better than they do.

They also cited similarities between the Philippines and São Paulo. For them both places are similar in terms of how the people face life. According to Fernando, “People [in the Philippines] are very warm, happiness despite of all the problems we still have the same warmness in the heart and also in the way of living, how to improvise. The way of being happy despite having social problems.”   Humberto also said that the Filipinos’ positive approach in life is very positive trait, “Necessity is the mother of Creativity, so both countries still face the same question, how to survive and profit with a lot of creativity.”

They also discussed the role of government in enhancing and promoting the design industry. According to the brothers, “to invest in design is a good opportunity to having people come.” The design industry is a good investment to gain profit for the country. According to Humberto, it is important to stick to your roots and in your tradition. “When you show your background, you are speaking globally. The best quality is not to copy or try to be someone that you are not.” Fernando also believes that education is also important. It is important for schools in different communities to teach the youth of traditions that are native to their community so that the tradition is not lost and can be preserved.

For them “slow-design” (handcraftsmanship) is better than “fast-design” (machine-produced). They believe that it is better to take a step back so that people can make “better steps to the future.”

During their short time in the Philippines, they believe that Filipino craftsmanship and traditions are unique. The Filipino artisans’ attention to detail and embellishments are admirable.


Another reason that the brothers arrived in the Philippines aside from visiting Manila FAME was to also meet with Filipino young designers. The brothers had an informal meeting  with the designers and shared with them, some of their many experiences in the design field. They shared inspirational stories and gave the designers’ advices on how they should approach design.

The Campana brothers with the young designers

Be true to yourself. When you create something do it because you like it, because it pleases you and not because of what others would like.” This certain advice was given by the brothers to the young designers. For the brothers design is not something that is based on just what the market needs but also what message the designer would like to share.

(L-R Top) Vito Selma, Daniel Latorre Cruz, CITEM Coordinator Liz Villegas, Wataru Sakuma, Rene Alcala, Olivia D’Aboville, Stanley Ruiz and Jinggoy Buensuceso (L-R Bottom) Paula and Vicky Rodriguez, Humberto and Fernando Campana, and Martha Cech

Overall, the Campana brothers’ visit to the Philippines and Manila FAME has truly been inspirational and productive. They have inspired many people with their designs and their insights.

The Campana brothers said that they hope to collaborate with Filipino designers on their future projects and for sure they will be back to visit the Philippines again.


2 thoughts on “The Campana Brothers on Design and Filipino Artisanship

  1. Really enjoying the Blog Posts since Manila FAME. Would have been great in this Blog to have identified by name the young designers from the Philippines that are in the pictures with the Compana Brothers-james Booth


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