Just Finished Reading: Design as Art by Bruno Munari (FP: 1966)
I have a sneaking suspicion that in another life I would have been a pretty decent graphic artist. I do seem to have a modicum of ability in that area and at least some artistic flair. With experience, time and training I think I could have even become a minor name in the field.
That being so – being deep down a frustrated artist (of the graphic design persuasion) I thought it was high time that I researched it a bit more. This is, I think, my first book in that direction. I almost picked it at random as, whenever I did a search on Amazon on the subject, it came up time and again in the top 10-20 books listed. I had to dive in somewhere and this seemed, as a classic text, a good place to start. Thankfully I was not disappointed. This is a chatty, intelligent and often funny book. Based on a series of newspaper and magazine articles written in the mid to late 1960’s in Italian (and translated into English in 1971) this covers a very wide range of design topics, from definitions of designers, to the meaning of signs, the difference between design and style (the author has very little good to say about stylists especially where car design is concerned!), the difference between a children’s book designed for children and one designed to please parents, Japanese homes (obviously of deep interest to the author), the power of the circle in poster design (I found this fascinating), the use and abuse of different types of text in different eras and for different uses and much else besides. Each article is only 5-10 pages long so if one particular thought or ideas doesn’t appeal or interest you then the next one probably will.
Being written so long ago it does come across as being a bit dated in places – especially when he talks about computers or the house of the future – but even these articles have a quaintness about them which is rather amusing. Most of his observations are, however, timeless. Even without all that much knowledge or experience of the area I could see why this book is a classic of the genre. It is often delightful, amusing, challenging (in several good ways), thoughtful and thought provoking and something you could probably read multiple times and glean something new on each read – which isn’t bad a little over 200 pages long! If you have any interest at all in graphic design this should definitely be on your reading list. Recommended and with more to follow…..