What do you say? Bruno Munari was a graphic designer? Some say he was an artist or a product designer…no a teacher! Don’t worry Bruno Munari was a man of many talents, and everyone knew a different Munari.
Once upon a time Milan was famous for its mists. On winter mornings you could open your windows to look out at a widening sea of mist, a landscape that undoubtedly gave birth to the surprising picture book. Nella Nebbia di Milano (literally, “Amid the Mists of Milan”, published by Corraini). It was published in English as The Circus in the Mist. People appear from amid the layered translucence of the paraffin paper, lead us to brightly colored circus tents, and then return once again into the mists. Now however, we can see clearly from our windows on winter mornings. What Milan was once famous for is slowly disappearing.
The Circus in the Mist presents a true picture of Milan, as drawn by Munari. What arises from the mist here is not just the traffic jams, but also the phrase that drives the Milanese forward “Eat, drink, spend and consume more”. It doesn’t matter what the advertisement is for, the phrase repeats itself across the pages. This encapsulates the essence of advertising, and Munari highlights this truth ironically.
A city of commerce fosters design, and advertisements that combine consumerism with frankness dangle here and there. It was the same forty years ago. It was the 60s when Italy’s economy and the design industry were booming when Munari was at his peak.