“Stone belongs to the matrix of materials that have followed humanity’s development since the dawn of time. Ranging from the smallest of objects to intricate and extraordinary architectural structures, stone has accompanied the ways in which we have appropriated and redefined the world,” says Common Sense curator and experimentadesign-cofounder Guta Moura Guedes.

Common Sense is an exhibition of the Primeira Pedra/First Stone experimental research programme focused on Portuguese stone. It is the result of a partnership between experimentadesign and Assimagra. Claudia Moreira Salles and the Campana Brothers from Brazil, Fernando Brízio and Miguel Vieira Baptista from Portugal, Jasper Morrison from the United Kingdom, Michael Anastassiades from Cyprus, and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec from France were invited to make design objects that explore the timeless contemporariness of stone in the domestic and public spaces. The result is 11 pieces ranging from coat racks and bowls to water features and tables. Guedes goes on:

“The invited designers were set the challenge of exploring the physical and mechanical characteristics of these Portuguese stones in the conception of their projects. The selected marble and limestones have different properties and reactions due to their specific composition and geological origins. These qualities are also associated with their particular beauty and colorations, another aspect of the challenge, inciting the designers to use the personality of the material as a differentiating factor of the project. The exhibition also calls for contemplation on the idea of common sense and simplicity, both of which are sometimes lost in times of great technological advances and formal and functional complexity.”

Formidable forms

F=MA (2017) by Fernando Brízio: It is made up of two solid Ruivina Escuro marble buttresses that support a set of polyester string cables, stretched by two blocks of stone. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Many of the works thrillingly defy archetypal forms. The Campana Brothers, for instance, have created a stone ring with a coconut fibre brush. Cheekily named Mestiço (mixed race), not only are the material qualities of stone and coconut fibre contrasted, but also the functions of the material – neither typically used for personal adornment.

Instead using the physical laws of mass and gravity, Brízio also inverts the material qualities of stone and cables. The F=MA sideboard comprises a surface of cables that tautly stretched across two blocks of stone. The delicate cables not only have varying degrees of visibility, but also bend and change when supporting an object, creating a horizontal plane that seems to mystically deform.

Bowl Compass (2017) by Claudia Moreira Salles: by dividing a stone disc with a decreasing thickness with a wooden blade, a bowl that can be used to separate nuts from their shells or two types of appetisers, is created. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Mancebo Angras (2017) by Claudia Moreira Salles: a marble coat rack that emphasises the sculptural quality of these furniture items before they are covered with coats. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Moreira Salles’s coatrack also resists the typical form follows function structure. Instead, the marble slab with indented hooks that constitute Mancebo Angras is distinctively sculptural. Her Bowl Compass uses a wooden blade to divide a shallow stone bowl, resulting in a multiplicity of uses.

The Fontaine by the Bouroullecs is a modular water feature for indoor and outdoor use. Different configurations of the modules allow for different sized fountains and sounds. The artificial stream of water has been precisely engineered using computer-controlled machined marble. Fed by a small water tap, the water runs downhill – offering the opportunity for kids to play with floating vessels – before being pumped back up again.

Having already shown in Venice, Milan and Weil am Rhein, the Common Sense exhibition is now showing in São Paulo until August 27 at the renowned Lina Bo Bardi Glass House. From August 8 to 13, the collection will also be presented at the São Paulo Biennale Pavilion as part of the MADE design fair. Later this year, the exhibition travels to New York and London.

Alpinina (2017) by Jasper Morrison: a bowl specifically designed to make it seem as if it is floating over the surface it is placed on, despite the intrinsic weight of the stone. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
O Peso Da Pedra (2017) by Miguel Vieira Baptista: “Hipódromo” is made up of seven juxtaposing elements, creating a singular piece that contradicts stone methods that used mortar or extremely resistant metal. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
O Peso Da Pedra (2017) by Miguel Vieira Baptista: A set of pieces that have been conceptualised from research into the construction methods used in Roman antiquity. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
O Peso Da Pedra (2017) by Miguel Vieira Baptista: “Eclipse” is composed of a single piece that while seemingly unfinished, continues to function as a container. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
F=MA (2017) by Fernando Brízio: a sideboard that uses mass and gravity to create a system that functions through the forces of equilibrium. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Tall Vessel, Forbidden Fruit (2017) by Michael Anastassiades: The pieces of the Forbidden Fruit series explore the idea of variation between the interior and exterior of objects. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Medium Vessel, Forbidden Fruit (2017) by Michael Anastassiades: These pieces are inspired by the contrast that exists in a great variety of fruits, where the outside colour is different from the one inside. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Large Vessel, Forbidden Fruit (2017) by Michael Anastassiades: Created with an underlying logic that alludes to encapsulation and protection, the three objects establish a simultaneously contrasting and symbiotic connection between the different stones used. Photo: Fernando Laszlo
Fontaine (2017 by The Bouroullecs: A water feature conceived for public or domestic use. It is an artificial stream playing with sound and movement, just as it is a playground for children, where twigs and folded paper become floating vessels. Photo: Fernando Laszlo