The Campana Brothers

Humberto Campana (1953), began his “adult life” as a lawyer.  But when his brother, Fernando Campana (1961), completed his architectural degree in the mid-80s, the Campana brothers seemed to say “fuck it, let’s make some badass furniture.”



“Our designs were born in the street, from the urban kitsch of the popular quarters and contact with nature,” they say. “Whenever we can, we go back to our farm. Nature revitalises our ideas.”   In 1998 they had a show at MoMa (the first Brazilian artists to ever do so, might I add), and the rest is history.















Memphis Milano


The 80s isn’t generally thought of as a decade of high design; from scrunchies and crimped hair to neon and shoulder pads, it was an era that makes a lot of people cringe.  The Memphis design movement was one of the few exceptions to the 80s rule.

Founded in 1981 by Ettore Sottsass, Memphis Milano was a reaction to the darker, more minimal design of the 70s.  The group included writers, architects, and designers who created furniture, materials, and objects.  They were all over the map, and their influence was global.

Their goal was to create furniture and objects that defied boundaries.  The idea was that any one piece could be placed in any given space in a way that would intentionally clash/mesh with the surrounding items in a just right sort of way.  The Memphis designers wanted to break out of the rigid rules of previous schools of design, and through the use of   bright colors and intense patterns Memphis pieces fit into any space by essentially not fitting.  A little of it goes a long way, but in the most excellent direction!

Sottsass left the movement in 1985 and it dismantled in 1988.  Lots of people still hate Memphis, but more and more are loving it.  I think it’s ripe for a comeback.


Nicola L.

Nicola L. (yes, just L) is a conceptual artist.  She’s been an active furniture designer since the late 60s, creating the insanely amazing pieces pictured here, in addition to working in films and other performance pieces.  Her creations transform faces, bodies, and shells into usable, and sometimes livable objects.  Beyond all that, they are also extremely beautiful.

Stylin’ Kids’ Chairs

There are a few great options out there for children’s furniture, within a sea of overly cutesy yuckiness.   MoMA’s new exhibition, “Century of the Child”, displays some of the best, but if you are looking for a more intimate view of tasty mini furniture, check out Mondo Cane’s collaboration with Partners and Spade, “Kids Chairs!” The show features over 50 examples of the form from the years 1890-1990 and will be on view at Partners and Spade May 17th-June 10th. The big opening is tonight, May 17th, from 6-9 p.m. so stop on by!

Greg Fleishman, 1980s

Horse Rocker, 1950s

Shell Chair a la Eames, 1950s

Alvar Aalto, 1930s

Cut out chair, 1940s

Albrecht Lange and Hans Mitzlaff, 1960′s

Gloria Caranica for Creative Playthings, 1950′s

Knoll White Bertoia Children’s Chair, 1950′s

Gaetano Pesce, 1990’s

Gaetano Pesce: The Beauty of Imperfection

Gaetano Pesce is an Italian artist above all, whose form of expression is furniture.  His creations are uniquely beautiful, and often unexpectedly charming in large part because he uses materials in a way that is different than any one of his contemporaries.  Pesce’s focus is on the individuality of the object – the beauty that can be found in the unexpected, the romanticism of hidden forms, and the joy that a piece of furniture, or jewelry, or clothes can bring not only to a home, but to one’s life.  His goal is not perfection, but rather to celebrate the beauty of chance and the uniqueness of imperfections!

The Eames’

Charles & Ray Eames had many talents; they produced museum exhibitions, architecture, logotypes, toys, slide-shows, furniture, books, photography, paintings, and over 100 lesser-known films.  They reason why these shorts are not more well-known is that they are quite hard to come by, but here are the few that I could scramble up from the depths of YouTube … enjoy!


Woouf is a Spanish company that has taken a new approach to comfy.  While pillows are soft and sweet, they are often beyond bland; and though bean bag chairs are a super comfy staple, they often look like formless, ugly blobs on your floor.  Enter Woouf, whose goal is to make your life both more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, and a bit more goofy at the same time.

This Is No Pool Furniture

Inflatable items have a pretty tacky reputation.  They are generally in the shape of a beach ball or pool float, brightly colored, cheaply made, and often covered in some sort of terrible pattern.

But it is possible to do quite a bit better in the inflatables department.  Excellent blow-up furniture has been in production since the 60s.  What began as a youth statement on how to utilize new materials and technology while accepting the reasonable impermanence of objects, evolved into a pretty excellent field of design.  Here are some of the classic blow-up items, along with a handful of their new, more contemporary forms.

1960s - Quasar Khanh

1960s - Quasar Khanh

1960s - Quasar Knanh

1960s - Gaetano Pesce "Up" Series

1960s - Gaetano Pesce

1960s - Gaetano Pesce

1960s - Pas D'Urbino Lomazzi

2000s - Recycoool

2000s - Recycoool

2000s - Biofield Chesterfield

2000s - Biofield Chesterfield

2000s - Malafor

2000s - Malafor

2000s - Puff-Buff

2000s - Rodrigo Alonso

2000s - Rodrigo Alonso


The Hidden Potential of Cardboard

When you think of cardboard, what comes to mind? A box perhaps?  Or maybe one of those Whole Foods to-go containers?  Point being, these are not fun items.  Utilitarian yes, but certainly not terrible interesting or design forward.  Thank goodness there are some great minds out there that are able to think beyond the box (pun intended!).

Durable, strong, striking, and even stylish, corrugated board is far more versatile than given credit for, and it is one of the most upcyclable resources available. Frank Gehry was the first one to do it when he created his cardboard furniture designs in the late 60s and early 70s, but many others have followed in his wake.  Check out these incredible designs, and just think of the possibilities of this material for your next creation!

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry

Bloxes Modular Building System

flatpak highchair by Belkiz Feedaway

Warren Lieu cat nest

Ewa Bochen cardboard radio

Georgina Pizzabiocche’s Banquito Cartoon stool

GGRP cardboard record case/record player - such a great idea!

Who knew cardboard could be so cool?!


Tools at School, Redesigning the Classroom

I think we can all remember sitting in a classroom at some point wishing it was more comfortable, less bland, and better designed.  Well, a group of kids at the School at Columbia University made that dream a reality when they were given the opportunity to partner up with furniture manufacturer Bernhardt Design and top-seeded designers from Aruliden in order to reinvent the classroom.  Finally, someone to listen!

The project, Tools at Schools, aims to teach children that design is not just about the way things look, but also about making everyday objects work better. There is no group better qualified to re-imagine the classroom than the students who spend hours a day sitting in the chairs, using the desks, and lugging around the backpacks and supplies.  The result?  A great looking school furniture collection that includes ergonomic chairs and desks, which easily hold pens, pencils and books.

The roughly four dozen students who participated in the project learned the entire design and manufacturing process—from rough sketches, to 3D plans to shaping the first prototype. The experience of being involved from beginning to end, allowed the kids to work with real-life materials and develop creative skills through real-world experience in the fields of communication, art, mathematics and science.  After 25 weeks, the fruits of this student labor have moved beyond the classroom laboratory, debuting at ICFF last week and moving on to the Museum of Arts and Design in November 2011.

“I used to think that design was really exotic and abstract,” wrote one student in a testimonial. “The first thing I would think of when I heard the word ‘design’ was fashion. It amazes me to think back and see how off I was.”