Bruno Munari: His 100 lives as an Artist

Does anybody else just look at an inanimate object and start tallying how many shapes they see?

Well, I do.

I remember noodling with a slice of pizza in my Senior Year of college, being cogent about the fact that it was absolutely sane to notice shapes, patterns, and textures in objects, while rashly googling ‘hallucination’ as one of the merry symptoms of exhaustion. There was a thesis presentation to finish, and we were running low on fuel.

At 22, in a bookstore, I stumbled across this holy grail of a book which made me spiral into the world of Design and everything minuscule about it. In this world of content being manufactured as art, Bruno Munari redefined my outlook on how it can be perceived and produced optimally.

By now, if I have made this sound fabulous enough, you probably have a new tab opened, going over his biography, but if not, here is a legit place to browse!

Bruno Munari worked as the Art Director for the very prominent, Grazia Magazine before it became the go-to for any woman who actively participated in the world around her.

A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense. ~ Bruno Munari

Hailing originally from Milan, Italy, Munari was an artist and graphic designer and an exponent of the Italian Futurist movement.

Described as the “the new Leonardo” by Picasso, Munari made a passionate case for democratizing art and making design the traverse between romanticism and pragmatism.

Being a practitioner of visual and non-visual expression, Bruno Munari has contributed in a plethora of fields like painting, sculpture, film, industrial design, graphics, poetry, and writing.

Bruno insisted that design be “beautiful, functional and accessible”

Munari, with his outlook, reminded me of how much has changed and maybe, also how little has changed when it comes to design and the role it plays in the objects we use on a day-to-day basis.

His concept and contemplation over how the 3000-year-old Chinese symbol ‘Yin and Yang’ inspired me to delve into creating more black and white images. It made me see how patterns and shapes, from a basic table lamp to a high-storeyed building, reflect when you apply the former rule; how the two colours at the end of the prism represent the balance between two combatant forces that are equal and incompatible.

Revisiting Munari’s iconic words and descriptions helps visualise design as the highest and purest aspiration.

“When the objects we use every day and the surroundings we live in have become in themselves a work of art, then we shall be able to say that we have achieved a balanced life.”~ Bruno Munari, Design as Art

Graphic Design was another extraordinary feather in the hat for Munari. Those familiar with the book would know the weightage that he assigned towards the concept of lettering in Typography. Typography, which is not only the basis of Graphic Design, is also a concept and a discipline in itself that plays a vital role in Branding and hence, marketing.

As a Brand Strategist myself, the words “Not only does each letter of a word have a shape of its own, but all its letters taken together give shape to the word”, struck the right chords, enough to delegate and share the same with either colleagues or team members.

I am hoping these 560 words will help any Graphic Designer, Photographer, Architect and/or Branding Professional delve into exploring some schools of thought that existed long before and are probably better than sliced bread.



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