In areas with little in the way of developed industry, handiwork and non-specialised technology can provide interesting solutions. Inspired by the economic and social reality in Brazil, Humberto and Fernando Campana incorporate poor materials and imperfection into their design. They thus create a language which offers an alternative to the perfection of Western industrial products and which shows respect for the local situation in their country. Every single one of their Favela chairs (2003), manufactured by Edra, is hand-glued and hand-nailed and consists of wood that is used to build slums.

‘The leitmotifs of their work are weaving, accumulation and collection, signs of a manufacturing system based on the most elementary of technology. The main concern to keep things together by any means available: straps, nails, elastic, wire, joints. In this way the Campanas have the freedom to grow their forms through a process of accretion. They create form spontaneously through the process of making, rather than through any a priori definition. This spontaneity has allowed the Campanas to avoid the more obvious pitfalls of a nostalgic craft-based approach to design. In their hands, design is about freedom, the freedom to reinvent the forms around them and to work with their own hands. They take their time, working slowly, so as to be able to select gradually the themes and materials that interest them; they are ready to explore but also to change their minds, to combine materials without preconceptions.’ (21)

Corallo, a chair which the Campana brothers also had manufactured by Edra in 2004, is even less of a mass-made product. Although the chair consists of industrial steel wire, finished with coral epoxy paint, this steel wire is hand-bent for every chair. Each chair is a unique product which – compared to the Favela – is even further removed from industrial design. Corallo is perceived as a museum piece and is almost a sculptural object. Even within an industrial context, the inventive manipulation of material and technique can be ‘art that can be used when necessary’, as the work of Ron Arad is described. This is also the case when the form emerges from the clearly sculptural background of the designer. Then too, the result reveals an artistic-functional duality.


One of the strategies for combating the rigid logic of industrial production and over-production is to re-use discarded industrial products. The object is sometimes literally retrieved from the waste bin and, after ‘treatment’, given a new life. ‘Restoration of daily life’ is what Franck Bragigand calls this process. This French artist, who works in both the artistic and the design world and regularly collaborates with Droog Design, may for example paint old furniture in striking colours, after which they are publicly auctioned or sold as expensive objects through a gallery. However, the painted objects can also be given away for nothing. Irrespective of the system through which the furniture finds its way to a new owner, it regains its original function and gains another one. In this kind of manipulation, it combines functionality and a certain degree of artistic autonomy. It becomes a sculpture – in Franck Bragigand’s case, a painting at the same time – without ceasing to be an implement. This type of ambiguity colours the Dutch café that was fitted by Droog Design on behalf of Premsela in the Baltic House Theatre in St. Petersburg in 2003. Franck Bragigand painted the existing room and a number of old tables in various shades of green and pink. Re-use also characterises Bey’s Lightshade shade lamp in the centre of the room or Tejo Remy’s milk bottle lamps above the bar. Recycling here is linked to conceptual thinking and social realism.

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