A small one-week feature on what happens when we clean our houses. What bubbles to the surface. What reveals itself to be true. What our junk says about our current state and next steps. What the season does to us.
It’s Friday. Time to lighten up. Seriously. At least that was the message broadcast by this postcard, which I found while once again rummaging through my basket of small books and miscellany collected over the years. It features Bruno Munari’s toy monkey, Zizì, originally designed in 1952. I love Zizì, and I love Bruno Munari.
The postcard is actually a z-card. If you turn it and look at it from different angles, you see Zizì in a number of irreverent monkey poses. She’s always irreverent; she can’t help it. The postcard reminded me that we actually have the monkey (it was reissued in 1997 and 2007). I gave her a dusting, straightened out her kinky tale a bit and got her ready for her close-up. Her rubbery, primate message is clear and irrefutable: Why be in a funk when you can be funky?
The bigger story is this: Bruno Munari was an endlessly creative and playful designer who created ingenious books, toys, fanciful machines, and color tests (to name a paltry few of his creative experiments). He used design to create function, but also often simply as a stimulus for joy and further imagining. He played with design lightly and enthusiastically, with wit and insight. His books which are, as far as I can tell, for adults and children, are full of graphic jokes, overlays, reveals, and die-cuts. One of the first books I bought here in Milan was his Nella Nebbia di Milano (In the Fog of Milan), which is, coincidentally, dedicated to “Charlotte.” I remember holding it in my hands and feeling clearly that it was one of those signs that I was at the right place in the right time on my personal map.
But today, the first and last word belong to the little rubber monkey who popped up during Spring cleaning: “This life is to be enjoyed, starting now.” So, I’m off, to do just that. Not easy to do when tax preparation is on the docket, but we’ll give it our best shot.
Final note: The Triennale di Milano is now open also in New York at 40 West 53rd Street.