The Dwell 24: Cody Campanie

The Dwell 24: Cody Campanie

By Dwell
This third-generation woodworker is challenging the normative conceptual and physical practices of furniture design from his Portland studio.

Cody Campanie’s Sit, Set chair merges a plank with a half-barrel to create a seat with an integrated table. Such an elemental creation is a direct result of Campanie’s background as a designer at several architecture studios, including a stint in the New York office of Rem Koolhaas’s OMA.

Campanie became disillusioned with architecture, which frequently seemed to pit designer against builder. "I was trying to find a way to shorten that curve between idea and finished product," he says. Campanie moved to Seattle to study at the Wood Technology Center before establishing Campagna in Portland three years ago.

The Sit, Set Chair by Campagna 

His architecture background, however, continues to loom large. "I’m interested in the essential elements of objects," he says, "but 

Learn how Campanie thinks the design world can become more inclusive, plus read more of his responses to our Q&A, below. 

Hometown: Portland, OR

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I strive to make ideas, objects, and spaces that challenge normative conceptual and physical practices found in craft and design.

What's the last thing you designed? A reading and thinking chair for a scholar and activist.

How do you procrastinate? I've been going down a lot of rabbit holes researching how best to build out my 1990s Japanese camper van.

The o Sit Chair by Campagna

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Anything marketed as his/hers and the love seat. The design industry is driven by hetero- and cis-normative ideas and objects. As designers, we have the power to challenge this binary structure and worldview.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Sori Yanagi, Yvon Chouinard, and Grace Lee Boggs.

What skill would you most like to learn? Speaking many languages.

What is your most treasured possession? A small animal statue I found while visiting family in Indonesia.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? My family is full of artists, writers, photographers, and tinkerers. Discussions about making spaces and objects anew has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? The trend of cyclical, disposable trends.

The Set Table by Campagna

Finish this statement: All design thoughtful and critical.

What’s in your dream house? Natural light and clean air.

Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? I started a small vegetable garden and learned to make the delicious sesame dressing you get on the salads at Teriyaki spots.

How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? Once a refuge from labor, the home is now being transformed into yet another space where workers are judged and valued for their productivity and output. Though this is discouraging, it has left offices and commercial strips vacated and primed for occupation and re-imagination by community groups providing services in housing, food, education, and healthcare.

How can the design world be more inclusive? The design world needs to re-think its relationships to systems of capital. It needs to invest in work focused in and with local communities. Through this work, power and creativity are put in the hands of people from diverse backgrounds. This is work that takes thought, time and commitment. In the meantime, designers from diverse backgrounds, namely Black and Indigenous, need to get hired, promoted, and paid.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? Sometimes the best design is the things you already have. Everyone can be a designer with some critical thinking and a pair of scissors (eg. jean shorts!). 

You can learn more about Campanie by visiting his website or on Instagram

The Dwell 24 2020

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