Week Seven: MA Project

Updated: Apr 6

Bruno Munari - Design as Art

Images: Design as Art Bruno Munari

  • The versatility and sustainability of bamboo.

  • The study of natural and spontaneous forms is of the highest importance to the designer.

  • Manufacturers sometimes have fixations. They impose limitations on themselves. They think that their product can only be used for one particular type of goods. But with experiment and good will one can think of new things to make, and so enlarge the commercial possibilities of a given product.

Experimental experience in design education as a resource for innovative thinking: The case of Bruno Munari

Images: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/82284694.pdf

  • The learner participates actively and the outcome is a concrete process: doing the real thing.

  • Of all educational approaches, experiential learning methods offer the greatest hope for learning which is genuinely, personally meaningful.

  • Munari used the pedagogical method that inquires the development of creative processes in children through learning, playing and having fun.

  • After WW2, he launched the experimental, interactive books called the I Preblibri or the Books before Books, which were made to deconstruct the concept of a book. They were pre-reading experiences for children who haven't been taught to read yet, giving them the possibility to explore a book sometimes with only coloured or blank pages or with different materials and shapes. Exploring these special books, page by page, the child could enjoy a book interacting through the five senses.

  • Munari was interested in the process of 'making', but not only in the final product.

  • One of his biggest teachings could be summed up as; he taught the world to observe and recreate nature.

Dales's Cone of Experience

During the 1960s, Edgar Dale theorized that learners retain more information by what they “do” as opposed to what is “heard”, “read” or “observed”.

Image: https://nonviolence.rutgers.edu/document/IIP0234F05

Images: https://www.wright20.com/auctions/2021/03/danese-a-private-collection/465

Image: https://www.munart.org

Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Second-section-of-the-picturebook-Nella-notte-buia-illustrated-by-Bruno-Munari-1956-C_fig2_337745802

Image: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/bruno-munari-picasso-childrens-books-316667

Materiality in Bruno Munari's Book Objects: The Case of Nella notte buia and I Prelibri

  • Bruno Munari was in a good position to design children's books that were incredibly innovative at the time of their production.

  • They were books conceived as genuine encounters, capable of holding attention and being absorbing reading experiences.

  • The purpose of materiality was to enable young readers to experience the sensorial landscape and emotional climax of the story.

  • The second section of Nella notte buia is a tribute to Munari's childhood and a homage to the importance of nature and outdoor play for a young child's development, that Munari experienced when he was a boy.

  • Nella notte buia was innovative as a picture book not only for the choice of materials and their interaction with the story but also for Munari's original decision to entrust the sensory setting of the book to the materials themselves.

  • As young readers turn the pages of the three different "material chapters," they are launched on a journey of sensory and tactile discovery.

  • These tactile sensory experiences enable the reader to grasp the extraordinary nature of the landscape by means of the constantly changing materials in their hands.

  • Children leafing through the individual books of I Prelibri "receive various types of information through all their sensory receptors, and get to know these objects called books, where every book contains different information.

  • These little books are entertaining but also allow for children to grasp more complex concepts, such as the cause-and-effect relationship.

  • On the back cover of I Prelibri, Bruno Munari wrote a sort of "manifesto" for children's literature that goes:

A – What’s a book?

B – It’s a thing made up of lots of pages, held together by a binding.

A – But what’s inside?

B – Usually words that, if they were placed all in a row on a single line, the line would

be miles long and you’d need to walk a long way to read it.

A – But what can you read in these words?

B – You can read lots of different stories: stories about people of today and ancient

times, scientific experiences, legends, very complicated philosophical or political

thoughts, poetry, economic balance sheets, technical data, science-fiction stories.

A – Even fairy tales?

B – Definitely! Even fairy tales, ancient stories, nonsense, limericks.

A – With lots of pictures?

B – Sometimes there are lots of pictures and not so many words.

A – But what’s a book for?

B – For communicating knowledge, or for pleasure. In any case, for increasing our

understanding of the world.

A – So, if I understand you right, it’s for making life better.

B – Yes, it often is.

  • Munari's works provide an opportunity for new thoughts and images to organically "materialise", actively engaging young readers through the freedom of choice and "impertinent" use of innovative materials.

Image: Photo taken by me


I enjoyed learning more about Bruno Munari this week. It was fascinating and inspiring learning about his children's books and made me realise how an object such as a book can engage all the senses. Learning about Munari's children's books also led me to buy Nella notte buia which is such a beautiful object in its own right yet has an important function too. Of course, beauty and function are a combination we are compelled to achieve as designers. Nella notte buia almost seems like it was ahead of its time when you consider the array of objects that books have to compete with today in order to attract children's attention. The three chapters cater for short attention spans with careful consideration to materials used catering for the senses.


Orlandi, A.E.C. (2010). Experimental experience in design education as a resource for innovative thinking: The case of Bruno Munari. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), pp.5039–5044 [Accessed 6 Apr. 2022].

Campagnaro, M. (2019). Materiality in Bruno Munari’s Book Objects: The Case of Nella notte buia and I Prelibri. [online] researchgate.net. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337745802_Materiality_in_Bruno_Munari%27s_Book_Objects_The_Case_of_Nella_notte_buia_and_I_Prelibri [Accessed 6 Apr. 2022].

Munari, B. (2008). Design as art. London: Penguin [Accessed 6 Apr. 2022].

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All