KAWS and Estudio Campana - Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches Hong Kong Thursday, May 25, 2023 | Phillips
  • When we first met KAWS, we understood his ability to tell those stories that you will always remember. KAWS x Campana created a common story of referring to memories of childhood, affection, and wellbeing. We are both storytellers.
    Humberto Campana


    Globally renowned as one of the most influential and forward-thinking artists of his generation, KAWS is critically lauded for his multi-disciplinary practice that draws upon pre-existing imagery to explore the relationship between fine art and consumer culture. Having experienced a meteoric rise to worldwide acclaim, KAWS is now recognised as an international pop culture phenomenon who has set new possibilities in the fields of art, music and fashion. His ascent to international fame has garnered him a devoted and star-studded following, including major industry giants such as Pharrell and Kanye West, to high end fashion lines like Nike, Dior, and Comme Des Garcons, all of whom he has collaborated with. By engaging with audiences beyond the prestigious global museums and galleries in which he frequently exhibits, KAWS has followed in the footsteps of icons before him such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to truly come to be acknowledged as a disruptor and leading figure of 21st Century creativity.


    One of KAWS’s most highly revered collaborations is with Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana – pioneers in the global design world who formed Estudio Campana in São Paulo, Brazil in 1983. Disruptors in the design sphere, the Campana brothers fearlessly combined traditional craftsmanship with unconventional materials and methods to create a revolutionary new discipline. Like KAWS, Estudio Campana investigate consumer consumption in their work, with a focus also in transformation and reinvention. Works by Estudio Campana can be found in over 40 public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.



    Detail of the present work


    In 2018, Friedman Benda first debuted KAWS x Campana, a collaboration between the Brazilian brothers and KAWS which unveiled an unparalleled synergy melding the artist’s playful sensibilities with the design studio’s avant-garde approach. It was an immediate hit. As curator and writer Glenn Adamson praises of the partnership, ‘it is a perfect collision of two very different artistic trajectories, but with much in common between them, notably, an ability to fuse accessible surface qualities with trenchant cultural commentary. They offer a pleasure akin to two veteran musicians taking the stage, jamming together, and finding perfect harmony. i


    For the collaboration, KAWS merges his signature plush creatures into the furniture series of soft-toy sculptural pieces that the Campana brothers have been growing over a decade. Carefully sewn together in a seemingly random manner, each toy dons the artist’s trademark crossed-out eyes, alongside a signature stitched into one foot. The present work, existing as part of a small, limited edition of only 25, features the KAWS plush in Elmo-red, completed with an orange nose that confirms the connection to the universally cherished Muppet character from Sesame Street. Showcasing the forward-thinking nature of KAWS and Estudio Campana’s leading creative forces, the playful yet uncanny chair is instantly identifiable as part of both collaborators’ practices.


    Opening to Elmo’s World from Sesame Street 


    Reimaginations of Splendour


    Humberto Campana first encountered KAWS’s art during a public sculpture exhibition in Amsterdam in 2015. When the opportunity to collaborate with KAWS emerged, the Campana brothers embraced it without hesitation, as they explain: ‘When we first met KAWS, we understood his ability to tell those stories that you will always remember. KAWS x Campana created a common story of referring to memories of childhood, affection, and wellbeing. We are both storytellers.’ [ii]. Since the early 1980s, they have been challenging design conventions by reinterpreting ordinary, and sometimes discarded, materials, provoking discussions on value, authorship, and the essence of beauty.


    The KAWS x Estudio Campana partnership is a veritable garden of artistic delights, each piece bearing the unmistakable imprints of both creative forces. In the soft embrace of an upholstered chair, one finds the familiar visage of KAWS's signature cartoon-style characters, its form expertly reimagined by the Campana brothers' deft artisanry. An inspired evolution of the Campana Brothers' Stuffed Toys seating collection, which commenced in 2002, KAWS: MONSTER Chair presents a refreshing departure from conventional furniture materials like latex foam. The result is a resplendent bouquet of artistic expression - a harmonious fusion of pop and high culture that challenges our perception of what the traditional parameters for art really are.


    Street meets Studio


    Drawing upon the rich history of art and design, this collaboration delves deep into the fertile soil of artistic tradition. KAWS's roots in graffiti and street art blend seamlessly with Estudio Campana's experimental, sustainable design practices, yielding a unique and fragrant hybrid. As the two worlds come together in opulent ascendance, an exhilarating dialogue is born, both subtle and profound, that imbues the furniture collection with a dynamic energy, unveiling an innovative panorama that transcends the boundaries of art and design.


    KAWS's past as a graffiti artist is evident in his unmistakable visual language, characterised by bold colours, striking compositions, and a penchant for subversive reinterpretations of popular culture icons. His roots in the streets of New York City have imbued his work with a raw, unfiltered expressiveness that celebrates the spontaneous and the ephemeral. KAWS's graffiti beginnings also demonstrate his ability to engage with his surroundings, dynamically adapting his art to the spaces it inhabits.


    This urban sensibility finds a compelling counterpart in the Campana brothers' artisanal approach to design, which draws inspiration from the rich cultural tapestry of their native Brazil. Their work is deeply rooted in traditional craft techniques, employing sustainable materials and methods. The Campanas are known for their faithful sensitivity to the organic and the handmade, resulting in designs that emphasise texture, form, and an intimate connection to the natural world. Their production also pays homage to the pioneering spirit of artists and designers past, such as the organic forms of Art Nouveau and the irreverent boldness of Memphis Design, while simultaneously carving out a distinctive path of their own.


    Peter Shire, Bel Air Armchair, 1982


    As showcased by the present work, the KAWS x Estudio Campana collection stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, a vibrant and fertile garden where the creative visions of two artistic titans intermingle and flourish. This extraordinary union of talent and inspiration serves as a resounding affirmation of art's boundless capacity to innovate, to challenge, and to delight.


    Collector’s Digest


    • The present work exists as part of a small series of only 25.

    • In December 2020, another work from this edition of KAWS: MONSTER Chair hammered down for an impressive HKD 1,134,000 with buyer’s premium (146,316 USD)

    • The MOCO Museum in Amsterdam have another red chair from this exact series as part of their permanent collection.

    • The KAWS x Estudio Campana chairs are also celebrity favourites. Not only did KAWS keep one of this red version for his personal collection, tennis pro Serena Williams also has a red KAWS: MONSTER Chair, as she revealed in her home tour on Architectural Digest. Kylie Jenner also owns a black version.



     Serena Williams touring her home to Architectural Digest, as well as some works in her art collection. Another edition of the present work features.



    i Glenn Adamson, ‘KAWS x CAMPANA’, Friedman Benda, online

    ii Humberto Campana quoted in Alina Cohen. ‘KAWS and the Campana Brothers Join Forces at Design Miami’, Artsy, 7 December 2018. Online.

    • Provenance

      Friedman Benda, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed, titled and numbered ‘"CAMPANA KAWS: MONSTER" #9/25’ on a label affixed to the underside
plush toys, stainless steel and bronze
89 x 130 x 102 cm. (35 x 51 x 40 in.)
Executed in 2019, this work is number 9 from an edition of 25.

Full Cataloguing

HK$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for HK$381,000

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Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Mid-Season Sales
+852 2318 2014

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+852 2318 2001

Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches

Hong Kong Auction 25 May 2023