When it comes to recycling, Brazil's Campana brothers have long been ahead of the curve. The exuberant furniture designs dreamt up by Humberto, 54, and Fernando, 45, reuse everything from old rope to soft toys. However fanciful or arty, their work starts from the materials they find, testing properties and limitations. In abstracted form, the pair reflect the zany practicality they see on the poorer streets of São Paulo, their hometown laboratory.
Galleries around the world are falling for the Campanas' tropical charms. Their Vitoria Regia stools, named after the giant water lilies of the Amazon River, recently featured in the garden of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art is including the brothers in its "Space for Your Future" exhibition (Oct. 27 to Jan. 20, 2008). Favela chic seems to offer pointers for sustainable living. "It is our job to find beauty and meaning in the everyday," Humberto has said. The siblings wove wicker around cheap plastic seats to create larger, sculptural but still functional shapes, and turned plastic jerry cans into surprisingly attractive lamps.
Given their ability to change the nature of things, it's fitting that the Campanas' current project is designing sets for Création 2007, the Ballet National de Marseille's version of Ovid's Metamorphoses, premiering in Luxembourg in December. Ancient Rome meets contemporary Brazil? Look out for the Dance of the Vestal Refuse Collectors; it's sure to swing.