Conversation Starters

Forchette Parlanti by Bruno Munari

For his series Forchette Parlanti (Talking Forks) Bruno Munari takes a rather bland everyday object—the fork—and transforms it into a playful tool to stimulate the imagination. By bending the prongs, Munari shapes the forks into various hand gestures giving them personality and meaning. In his own words, “A closed fork for ladies who have diet problems, a fork to indicate on the menu, a fork to ask for permission, a fork for hitchhiking, etc”. The series is characteristic of the artist who is known for subverting function in favor of play, and offers endless conversation. 

Bruno Munari with Nobilità from Forchette Parlanti, circa 1958

A very comprehensive explanation would nullify the function of the object created instead to stimulate the imagination.

Bruno Munari

Bruno Munari

A prolific artist, writer, inventor, architect, illustrator, and titan of design, Bruno Munari is known as one of the greatest protagonists of 20th century art, design, and graphics. Born in Milan, he spent much of his childhood and teenage years in the quaint and rural town of Badia Polesine; this exposure to both city and country life would later become fundamental in the development of his aesthetic. In 1927 at the age of 20, Munari became involved with the Futurist movement, embarking on an over seven-decade-long career which would leave an indelible imprint on the design world.

The Futurists’ focus on progress and modernity was fertile ground for the young Munari, who desired to develop new modes of visual communication. During his association with the Futurist movement, he worked as a graphic designer and an art director, began designing children’s books, and developed his Macchina aerea (Aerial Machine) and Macchine inutili (Useless Machines) both of which exhibited his unique ability to blur the lines between machines, art, and utility. Following World War II, Munari broke with the Futurists due to their proto-Fascist leanings and in 1948 he founded Movimento Arte Concreta (M.A.C.), the Italian movement for concrete art, with Gillo Dorfles, Gianni Monnet and Atanasio Soldati. Over the next decade, prior to the disbanding of M.A.C. in 1958, Munari explored kinetic art, experimented with polarized light, produced several films, and designed countless objects for Italian design companies such as Danese Milano.

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