“I commit to the materials I work with and the knowledge gained from these relationships cannot be experienced by just experimenting on a superficial level. I think of them as sacred and each one will reveal itself in its own time.”
– Eurico Humano
Material research and artisanal craftsmanship form the basis of Brazilian artist and designer Eurico Humano‘s practice, exploring shape, texture, and process to develop a series of unique, conceptual pieces. Experimentation plays an important role in Humano’s work, allowing him to investigate the possibilities and limits of each material and technique. In many of his pieces, solid brick becomes pliable, appearing to bend under the weight and strength of delicate glass, textured rope, and hewn wood. These captivating forms raise questions about the accepted qualities of these materials – how does brick take on a curved surface? What allows rope to stand tall? At the same time, they highlight the playful side of Humano’s practice and speak to the larger contemporary Brazilian design scene which features a similar out-of-the-box approach to production and aesthetics.
Featured in Waldick Jatobá’s latest Brazilian collection, “MATERIAL ORIGINS”, Humano’s “Banco Tronco” portrays the designer’s unique approach to art and design. The piece’s wooden body directly references the natural world, with green rope representing moss. Beneath this, a brick base bends beneath the object’s weight. This relationship between materials is similarly reflected in the sculptural light object, “Under Construction”. Here, the bulb defies gravity on a length of structured rope while a handmade deformed brick is crushed in the rope’s grasp. Other pieces completed in situ take on a performative element, fusing the maker’s design processes with the environment itself. Through his attention to detail and desire to find meaning within the materials he uses, Humano is able to play with possibilities and develop intriguing pieces focused on the connection between material, technique, and user.
How does your background in industrial design come together with your interest in artisanal craftsmanship in your practice?
I believe it all happened by contrast and my work today is a response to the past experiences I had, they helped me to look for my own identity. I worked in the fashion industry for a decade in my twenties as a footwear and accessories designer. During that same period, I attended industrial design school. These settings exposed me to a variety of perspectives from which to choose, yet I preferred to create my own path as I felt I needed to express myself differently. In school, I was repeatedly told that my approach was “too artistic” in relation to the projects. Moreover, scaled production, repetitions, and the volume of items produced seemed limiting and too impersonal, not the type of contribution I wanted to be involved with at that time. I was looking for meaning and more creativity, not quantity. The idea of creating fewer personalized products with a more artistic contribution which would add value and eliminate the need to engage factory production had not yet occurred to me. I just had a concept and manual skills which I considered powerful creative tools.
I have always been a problem solver who prefers my independence in the creative process whenever possible. In December 2012, I started my artistic work because of a blue rope I saw in a store and I overheard [that] it had a “soul” inside. The beginning of my research started by undoing the rope looking for its “soul”; nowadays, I realize that actually I was looking for mine.
Many of your projects are completed on the site of an exhibition – what effect does this process have on the pieces you create?
There is a special aura about those unique projects. They are custom made upon request [and] are generally of a large scale [and] site-specific; therefore, a lot of preparation and a sense of presence is required in the making of this type of piece. The atmosphere of the room or space has a meditative quality as I prefer to work in silence. A performance takes place as I go around the space drawing shapes by hand with the ropes in the air, creating a dialog between the sculptural elements and the surroundings. It feels like a human scale 3D printer working on an abstract form. Impermanence comes as a strong concept in this type of piece as the structure can be remodelled numerous times, expanding and contracting, acquiring new forms to adapt itself. Even after it is finished, it can be adjusted.
Is this attention to final details reflected in the pieces currently presented in your showroom? If so, in what way?
The concept of impermanence will always be present, it may be offered differently according to the smaller pieces. The possibility for changes and adjustments are a part of every project – changing the positions of the light bulb, in the case of “Light Matter II”; the adjustment of the rope in “Em Construção”; or the way you choose to sit on or use “Banco Tronco”. It is important that there is no right or wrong way regarding the work, as I believe it is relevant to create a space for interaction, reflection, and co-creation with the work. Even the smallest interaction offers a potential creative experience which may lead to a more creative mind-set [or] approach to the material world and, hopefully, to life. Creativity is identity.
Your practice places great emphasis on materials – from solid brick to colourful rope to delicate glass. Can you describe your approach to experimenting with new materials?
I work mostly with industrial materials submitting them to an artisanal process that reframes the perception about what they are. A hard and robust brick appears to be melted and soft; a fragile glass light bulb seems strong enough to bend and resist the pressure of a hard brick; [and] a rope that is limp and heavy appears to be light and steady. I incorporate the deformities and flaws of the process into the piece as an essential part of its history, creating value and reinforcing identity. This concept also opposes the cultural idea of “perfection”. Observing these points, I understand my work as a research about balance and duality, subverting the industrial elements and playing with their structures, functions, and concepts.
I tend to work with materials that I am attracted to and have interest in, I focus on resonance and their selection becomes an intuitive process. If there is no true connection to the material the work becomes a shallow experiment, which is the opposite of what I search for. I believe that all elements are malleable and flexible and can be employed in ways outside of their ordinary use if you look at them carefully. I seek their potentials, hidden values, and possibilities. I ask myself not what the material is or appears to be, in so much as what it could become. I approach them as my equal, often asking them “what do you want to become? How can I be of service in making that happen?”. I consider the elements I work with as friends. In the end, we are all made up of the same atomic dust and share the same time frame and many of the materials I work with will exist longer than I will. If we all [had] more respect towards using materials, we wouldn’t be facing the kind of pollution problems we are right now.
I commit to the materials I work with and the knowledge gained from these relationships cannot be experienced by just experimenting on a superficial level. I think of them as sacred and each one will reveal itself in its own time. The reason why I find it critical for me to engage with materials that do not speak to my soul is that it is essential to have a connection to achieve what I want. This is my way of creating identity and meaning out of my work. There is joy in the process of creating, I feel almost like a kid at play. When I begin to work with a new material I spare time to play with it without any expectations. I try to bring it into my daily routine as much as possible. In this way, I become familiar and comfortable with it and create space for a dialog. Being able to play as an adult is sacred!
Pieces like “Banco Tronco” and “Under Construction” offer a sculptural and playful take on functional design. Where do you draw inspiration from when developing new pieces like these?
My approach is essentially symbolic and holistic. Maintaining a cultural identity is essential for me, but time and nature are the strongest influences I have in my work; it may not be visible, but they are present in all the things I do. Time nourishes and allows transformation of the ideas into a material reality [and] nature inspires me to reflect and be creative. My creative process is intuitive and does not follow a linear pattern, my challenge is to reach a balance through the material expression, generally creating a sculpture. While in the making of it, I’m not thinking about function; once it is finished, I may revisit it to look for a potential “functional” aspect and, if there is one, I will figure out how to translate it into a functional piece. The functionality of it needs to be an extra feature that is not missed if not being in use, the piece has to stand on its own as a sculpture – these are my premises when working on a functional piece.
Each piece has its own time to be ready for showing, “Banco Tronco” existed unfinished for two years before being shown [at the] MADE (Mercado Arte Design) exhibition in 2018. I was living in the countryside when I had an encounter with nature’s rhythm. During that period, my perception of Time grew deeper inside me and that understanding was what I needed to finish “Banco Tronco”. My first seating piece is a reflection of that moment when I was in need of a paused contemplation to connect with the primitive energies of the land so I could have a better understanding of Time.
[At] the beginning of 2015, I saw a deformed brick for the first time, it was smashed on the ground [and] was going to be thrown away for not serving its purpose as a construction brick. I got emotional in that moment and said that it was the most beautiful brick I have ever seen and I thought to myself: it may not be of use to build a wall, but it will certainly build something stronger than a wall, a concept and ideas which may live longer than a wall. At that moment, I felt that something special had just happened, but I had no idea how deep and important this relationship was going to become. That was the beginning of the #freethetijolos project and the story of how “Em Construção” happened to have its brick base while I was driving on a road and, for no particular reason, I stopped the car and decided to visit the brick factory, Olaria São Geraldo.
What do you hope audiences take away from your pieces?
I create to connect with people, the work has many layers and each person connects with it on a different level. There are a few ideas I would like to approach with this work: the duality and subversion through the use of materials, temporality, value, and identity, there is in a unique shape and the importance of cultural and creative identity. Handmade pieces have a different quality by being unique and personal which adds a meaning to it. I believe there is a particular audience my work will speak to. I hope the work has a positive influence, either stimulating creativity, reflections, or just smiles.
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The Brazilian artist and product designer Eurico Humano combines shape and texture into unique conceptual pieces, as a result of material research allied with a passion for essentially handmade processes. Singularity is a condition for every piece and the asymmetric models are finished by the artist on the exhibition site, creating a ritualistic intimacy with the art piece.
Received his Bachelor degree in Industrial Design by Centro Universitário da Cidade (Rio, 2010). Humano has taken part in several design weeks: Milan (2018), Paris (2015), Rio (2014 – 2015), São Paulo ( 2013 – 2014 – 2018), and Belgrade (2013) where he won the prize for innovative use of material with the “Acorda” Project. In 2015, the piece “Em Construção” (“Under Construction” in English) became part of the Brazilian Embassy’s permanent collection located in Paris.