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Communicate what you see, imagine what isn’t there: Bruno Munari
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Estimated reading time
4 Minutes

Communicate what you see, imagine what isn’t there: Bruno Munari

This week I read:

Design e comunicazione visiva
Bruno Munari

Laterza, 2017 / 384 pp. / Paperback
EAN: 9788858128787

Bruno Munari

Laterza, 2017 / 224 pp. / Paperback
EAN: 9788858128794

Even in words, Design and visual communication and Imagination, or Fantasy, appear to be two extremely different approaches, but if it’s Bruno Munari explaining to us that they’re not, we have to believe it.

Everything our eyes see is visual communication.
Bruno Munari, Design and visual communication

Let’s start with the word itself:fantasy has Greek origins, and shares its etymology with the verb that means to show. Think about it: when you fantasise, you depict (i.e. give a form to) an object, a person or a scene; you see it in an indistinct place somewhere between your eyes and your mind.

What our mind creates is a message too, and we know what it means because we created it ourselves. When you create for other people, however, you have to follow precise rules, otherwise communication is hampered, and may fail.

IC C/W1 wall lamp - brass
The Cube cat kennel with black structure
Pendant Odigiotto Diam. 70

Lectures for better communication

The book covers the lectures given by Bruno Munari at Harvard University in 1967. His was a course with a marked practical and experimental approach - yet at the same time, general; which unsettled his students somewhat.

Munari’s lessons - which focused on the exploration and rediscovery of textures, colours, shapes and structures, contrasts and relations - are intended to demonstrate that a design is successful when every part of it is coherent.

Art is a mental fact.
Bruno Munari, Design and visual communication
Enrico Castellani, a work from his series Superfici BiancheEnrico Castellani, a work from his series Superfici Bianche

And this, in brief, is the task of the designer: not only a concern with aesthetic qualities, but with every phase of an object or a design, including the economic aspect. And above all the designer knows that when you create, you’re addressing an audience to whom you need to convey a message - in other words, communicate.

A technical book, certainly, but also the perfect manual for a beginner in design or someone who’s already working in the field and wants to go back and reconsider. Worth a read.

Design e comunicazione visiva
Bruno Munari

Laterza, 2017 / 384 pp. / Paperback
EAN: 9788858128787

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Everything that wasn't there before

How can creativity be stimulated? Is there a correct way of imagining? Is imagination merely a synonym for these abilities? Starting from these questions, Bruno Munari builds an investigation which attempts to find mechanisms that are logical and, above all, communicable.

A person without imagination would die of hunger.
Bruno Munari, Fantasy

For Munari, imagination is sterile if it doesn’t enter the real world. But to make it enter, particularly when it’s something that doesn’t yet exist (but which somebody can already see - hence one of the most commonly-used attributes for designers is visionary), it has to be communicated in the best possible way to others, both members of the design team and the public.

Bruno Munari's response is yes, creativity can be exercised: the workshops in which his method is used are actually geared to recovering or developing elasticity, finding original relations, imagining possible solutions. A rose is not merely a rose: it’s also a cross-section of a lettuce and - above all - a mould.

This is a book to remind us that imagination is a serious matter, a collective power which can really change things. When you know how to use it, of course. Worth a read.

Bruno Munari

Laterza, 2017 / 224 pp. / Paperback
EAN: 9788858128794

Buy it on

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