An almost perfect product design object: the orange

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Arancia di Bruno Munari

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Bruno Munari, in his book "Good Design", analyzes some natural elements as if they were design objects.
It is a small and synthetic booklet, extremely acute and clever.
I extracted a passage, which struck me particularly, which explains why

orange is "an almost perfect design object"

 

The structure

This object is made up of a series of modular containers shaped very much like the segments of an orange and arranged in a circle around a vertical axis. Each container or section has its straight side flush with the axis and its curved side turned outwards. In this way the sum of their curved sides forms a globe, a rough sphere.

The packaging

All these sections are packed together in a container that is quite distinctive both as to its material and its colour. Its outside surface is fairly hard, but it has a soft internal lining that serves as padding between the outer surface and the sections packed inside. The material is in origin all of the same type, but it is suitably differentiated according to its function.

Each section or container consists of an envelope of plastic-like material large enough to contain the juice but easy to handle during the dismemberment of the global form. The sections are attached to one another by a very weak, though adequate, adhesive. The outer or packing container, following the growing tendency of today, is not returnable and may be thrown away. [...]

The promotional gift

Apart from juice the sections generally contain a small seed from the same plant that produced the fruit. This is a small free gift offered by the firm to the client in case the latter wishes to start a production of these objects on his own account. We draw your attention to the fact that while no economic loss is incurred in this gift, it gives rise to an important psychological bond between producer and consumer: few if any of the consumers will actually start growing orange trees, and yet this entirely altruistic concession (the idea of being able to do it if he wishes) frees the consumer from his castration complex and establishes a relationship of reciprocal trust.

The color

Even the color is exactly right. It would be quite wrong if such an object were blue.

Critical judgment of the design object

Typical object of a truly large-scale production and at an international level where the absence of any expressive symbolic element linked to the fashion of styling or estètique industrielle, of any reference to sophisticated figurativeness, demonstrate a knowledge of design that is difficult to find in the medium level of designers.

The only concession to decorativeness, if we may say so, is the highly sophisticated material of the outer container, treated as it is in such a way as to produce the ‘orange skin’ effect. Perhaps this is done to remind the consumer of the juicy pulp to be found inside the plastic containers. Anyway, a minimum of decoration must be allowed for, especially when as justified as it is in this case.

Perfect description!

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