Bruno Munari – Homo Universalis

One of the first people (to my knowledge) to talk about the relationship between art and design is the late Italian polymath Bruno Munari, who was excellent in many fields, much like the ideal of the Italian renaissance man.

One of his books, called ‘Design as Art’ talks about the relationship (and fading borders) between art and design as early as 1966.



One of the works he is famous for – his ‘useless machines’ – are beautiful examples of dimensional and material compositions that float in the no mens land between art and design and that do not seem to have a purpose other than being objects. They demonstrate that humans can be attracted and intrigued by objects for their simple properties such as colour or material or balancing each other out.


Bruno Munari and André Breton (founder of Surrealism) met in 1933 and they must have exchanged ideas about art, design and views on the world. So it’s not a surprise that you can see links between his Useless Machines and the Cadavre Exquis experiments of André Breton.


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