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The Story Behind the Campana Brothers’ Iconic Stuffed-Animal Chair Design

Curated for you via Architectural Digest.

Frustration is often the mother of invention. That was the case with São Paulo design duo Humberto and Fernando Campana, who found themselves tired of traditional upholstery back in 2002. Then a chance encounter sparked an idea: “Someone on the street was selling stuffed animals, carrying them all in his hands—teddy bears, lions, crocodiles,” says Humberto. “Fernando and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is the chair.’”

three chairs in a gallery
The KAWS x Campana Brothers collaboration at Design Miami; Friedmanbenda.com

Photo by Daniel Kukla. Courtesy of Friedman Benda, Estudio Campana & KAWS.

a plush pink chair
A KAWS x Campana Brothers BFF chair.

Photo by Daniel Kukla. Courtesy of Friedman Benda, Estudio Campana & KAWS.

They headed to a nearby market and bought a zoo’s worth of plush toys. At the studio, they stitched the critters together into a cuddly mound and fastened it to a metal framework with skinny stainless-steel legs. The result was “a chair that connects with childhood memories,” Humberto says of a seat—and its endless variations—that has come to epitomize their oeuvre. “It brings a smile to the face.”

two people sitting on a chair of stuffed crocodiles
Humberto and Fernando Campana perched on plush alligators.

Photo by Jason Schmidt.

Commissions rolled in: Disney wanted versions featuring Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto. Fendi wanted a banquette of hairy monsters. American artist Brian Donnelly (a.k.a. KAWS) commissioned one made of his own character BFF. “We started making them for ourselves,” says Donnelly. “But then we wanted to share them with a larger audience.” The results? A limited edition unveiled by Friedman Benda at Design Miami that sold out in days, one piece to Travis Scott, who brought it home to daughter Stormi. The Insta-famous tot is only the newest member of the fan club, which ranges from Kanye West to AD100 talents François Catroux and Francis Sultana, who says of the kid-approved piece: “It’s great design in a language they can relate to.” campanas.com.br

a plush chair with lots of stuffed animals
The Campana Brothers turned Fendi’s Bag Bugs into seating.

Photo courtesy of Fendi, Roma Giustini/Stagetti, Roma.

a stuffed animal chair at the top of the stairs
A stuffed stool in a London townhouse by François Catroux.

Photo by Douglas Friedman.

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