Early 2000s Brazilian Post-Modern Armchairs
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Post-Modern Armchairs
Early 2000s Italian Post-Modern Chairs
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Post-Modern Armchairs
Campana Brothers Biography and Important Works
The Campana Brothers are among Brazil’s foremost contemporary furniture designers. Inspired by their country’s vernacular culture, Humberto and Fernando Campana combine everyday objects in unexpected ways, often waste materials like rope, cardboard, plastic tubing, and aluminum wire, to make their singular creations. Their designs have been manufactured by such companies as Alessi, Swarovski and Cappellini. And they have received numerous honors, including being named Designer of the Year both at Design Miami in 2008, and by Maison & Objet in Paris in 2012.
Humberto Campana was born in Rio Claro in 1953 and earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of São Paulo. Fernando was born in 1961 in Brotas, and graduated from the São Paulo School of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The brothers started working together in 1983, crafting furniture using their signature method of adaptive reuse. Their pieces frequently refer to Brazilian social and cultural traditions and entities. Among these are the country’s favelas, or shantytowns, that have grown up around major cities. An homage to the resourcefulness with which the residents of São Paulo’s favelas make use of the materials at hand, repurposing cast-off objects in ingenious designs and constructions, their Favela armchair is made of cast-off strips of wood (the first one was made from discarded slats from a fruit market), which are glued and nailed together seemingly at random. The end result, however, is a compact, solid and well-proportioned chair.
By 1997, some of the Campanas’ pieces were being produced and sold in Italy, including the Edra Vermelha armchair, constructed of cord handwoven around a steel frame. In 1998, the brothers became the first Brazilian designers to have their work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today their furniture is included in MoMA’s permanent collection and in those of numerous other major institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Vitra Design Museum.
A Close Look at post-modern Furniture
Strictly speaking, postmodern design was a short-lived movement that manifested itself chiefly in Italy and the United States in the early 1980s. The characteristics of postmodern furniture and other postmodern objects included hot-colored, loud-patterned, usually plastic surfaces; strange proportions and weird angles; and a vague-at-best relationship between form and function.
Critics derided postmodern design as a grandstanding bid for attention and nothing of consequence. The fact that, decades later, postmodern design still has the power to provoke thoughts (along with other reactions) proves they were not entirely correct.
Postmodernism began as an architectural critique. Starting in the 1960s, a small cadre of mainly American architects began to argue that modernism, once high-minded and even noble in its goals, had become stale, stagnant and blandly corporate. In the next decade in Milan, a cohort of designers led by Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini brought the discussion to bear on design.
Sottsass and Michele de Lucchi, in 1980, gathered a core group of young designers, which would come to include Michael Graves, Marco Zanini, Shiro Kuramata and Matteo Thun, into a design collective they called Memphis. The Memphis Group saw design as a means of communication and they wanted it to shout. That it did: the first Memphis collection appeared in 1981 and broke all the modernist taboos, embracing irony, kitsch, wild ornamentation and bad taste.
Memphis works remain icons of postmodernism: the Sottsass Casablanca bookcase, with its leopard-print plastic veneer; de Lucchi’s First chair, which has been described as having the look of an electronics component; Martine Bedin’s Super lamp: a pull-toy puppy on a power cord leash. After the initial Memphis show caused an uproar, postmodern design quickly took off in America. The architect Robert Venturi had already begun a series of plywood chairs for Knoll Inc. with beefy, exaggerated silhouettes of traditional styles such as Queen Anne and Chippendale. In 1982, the new firm Swid Powell enlisted a group of top American architects, including Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, Stanley Tigerman and Venturi to create postmodern tableware in silver, ceramic and glass.
Finding the Right Armchairs for You
Armchairs have run the gamut from prestige to ease and everything in between.
Long before industrial mass production democratized seating, armchairs conveyed status and power. In ancient Egypt, the commoners took stools, while in early Greece, ceremonial chairs of carved marble were designated for nobility. But the high-backed early thrones of yore, elevated and ornate, were merely grandiose iterations of today’s armchairs.
Modern-day armchairs, built with functionality and comfort in mind, are now central to tasks throughout your home. Formal dining armchairs support your guests at a table for a cheery feast, a good drafting chair with a deep seat is parked in front of an easel where you create art and, elsewhere, an ergonomic wonder of sorts positions you at the desk for your 9 to 5.
When placed under just the right lamp where you can lounge comfortably, both elbows resting on the padded supports on each side of you, an upholstered armchair — or a rattan armchair for your light-suffused sunroom — can be the sanctuary where you’ll read for hours. If you’re in the mood for company, your velvet chesterfield armchair is a place to relax and be part of the conversation that swirls around you. Maybe the dialogue is about the beloved Papa Bear chair, a mid-century modern masterpiece from Danish carpenter and furniture maker Hans Wegner, and the wingback’s strong association with the concept of cozying up by the fireplace, which we can trace back to its origins in 1600s-era England, when the seat’s distinctive arm protrusions protected the sitter from the heat of the period’s large fireplaces.
If the fireside armchair chat involves spirited comparisons, your companions will likely probe the merits of antique and vintage armchairs such as Queen Anne armchairs, Victorian armchairs or even Louis XVI armchairs, as well as the pros and cons of restoration versus conservation.
Everyone seems to have a favorite armchair and most people will be all too willing to talk about their beloved design. Whether that’s the unique Favela chair by Brazilian sibling furniture designers Fernando and Humberto Campana, who repurpose everyday objects to artful effect; or Marcel Breuer’s futuristic tubular metal Wassily lounge chair; the functionality-first LC series from Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret; or the Eames lounge chair of the mid-1950s created by Charles and Ray Eames, there is an iconic armchair for everyone and every purpose. Find yours on 1stDibs right now.