for Design Studies
Bruno Monguzzi is an internationally renowned Swiss graphic designer.
An exhibit of his posters from the Tom Strong Collection was held at the University Gallery and the Bevier Gallery at RIT in 2011.
During the exhibition, Monguzzi visited RIT and presented a lecture for students and faculty. In addition, he conducted a gallery walk, explaining his poster design.
Personal commentary by Bruno Monguzzi about his graphic design work.
“When my mother—it was the summer of 1941, at the very tip of southern Switzerland—decided to finally show the light to me, my father was still Italian. He was going to be “naturalized”, as they say here, a few years later. My mother was Swiss. My father and my mother were very different from each other, and my brother was very different from me. He was damned good at everything.
I grew up between two conceptions of the world: the proto-liberal-catholic vision of my mother, and the vetero-social-marxist creed of my father. I have always remained a child and never ceased asking: why? An incautious adolescent who dreamed of changing the world—first with a pencil, later through revolution—it was the world, of course, that eventually changed me. But it is probably due to these interwoven moralisms that the search for meaning became a natural need to me, and that they, my father and my mother, unaware, became my first masters. She had the extraordinary humility not to understand when there was really nothing to be understood; I would therefore go back to my drawing table and start all over again. He, a small artisan, loved what he did with his hands, with his eyes, with his thought, and he wouldn’t stop until he had accomplished perfection. Of course I was a devoted student in school, I acquired good manual ability, I faced many dogmatisms and a few private gospels and I had to discover at my own expense that a graphic design course, even in Switzerland, was not necessarily the crucible of communications.
I became interested in the process of perception and I continued my studies in London, where I began to understand the typography of the avant-garde movements of the twenties, and where I found out about the Studio Boggeri. On my twentieth birthday I flew to Milan. The elevator in Piazza Duse 3 was minuscule, very slow and a bit shaky. During the long ascent to the fifth floor I felt sort of disturbed, a feeling that would last for over two years. I had fallen in love with the man, with his ideas, with the studio and its balcony overlooking the public gardens.”
Ten years later—exept for Max Huber Mr. Boggeri always complained about the slowness of his Swiss collaborators—I fell in love with Anna, his daughter, and this time my love was not in the least platonic. Meanwhile I had lectured on Gestalt psychology and typographic design at the Cini Foundation in Venice, I had worked for IBM and Gavina, I had designed nine pavillions in North America and I had set the typographical standards for a small new publishing house in Milan.
The modesty and honesty of this typographic work were, to my surprise, honored by the Italians with the Bodoni Prize in 1971. I have been busy, ever since, with book and exhibit design, with museography here and in Paris, and with teaching, here as well as in America and around the world. The Frenchmen too wished to honour me with a Janus Prize for the Musée d’Orsay project, the Americans with a golden cube (fake), the Japanese with the Yusaku Kamekura Award and a few medals in bronze, silver and gold (the real thing) and the British, in 2003, with the title Honorary Royal Designer for Industry.
From the Swiss, renowned for their parsimony, all I got was lots of paper. I did (with Anna) two very beautiful things. A son called Nicolas, in honor of Cassandre who had just tragically passed away, and a daughter named Elisa, in honor of Hans Werner Henze, whom I had discovered at the time.
Today I live on a hill facing south, I still believe in the axiom “form follows function”, and I have fun—within the mandatory rush for new waves—in perpetuating those languages that our fashion system insists in wiping out. As Dieter Bachmann once wrote, I am a “lucky man”.
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