Munari on squares

I’ve actually come quite a long way from the form of the square to its meaning as a contextual reference for public space…. but while reading Bruno Munari’s  ‘Design as Art’ on holiday, I was returned to its basic geometric capacity, and then some different contextual references. Munari, through a series of exercises, examines how the square can be dissected and turned into a different form (topology), for example a square, or added to with elements of a circle to make a rectangle.

Squares are not often found in nature, but interestingly, he – like many others, talks about the Golden Section – which is based around squares – providing a logarithmic sequence much found in nature. It’s a bit chicken and egg. What came first – the man-made square which imposes order and explains nature, or a invisible square from which nature developed?

Munari would probably favour the first overall as the other examples he provides situate the square firmly in the man-made realm of architecture (and board games such as helma, chess and draughts). Particularly in comparison to the circle which he sees as a symbol of the divine, with no beginning nor end. Although he does give one example of a circular device constructed by the Marquis of Worcester, who became famous not for that, but for the sauce that we now put on baked beans.

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