Orange, Peas and Rose

This extended passage is from an excellent book, “Design As Art” by Bruno Munari. I highly recommend buying this book.

Orange, Peas and Rose

Can one draw a parallel between the objects created by a designer and those produced by nature? Some natural objects do have elements in common with the products of the designer’s craft. What is the rind or shell of a fruit if not the ‘packing’ it comes in? Different fruits, from coconuts to bananas, are packed in different ways. Perhaps if we apply the jargon of design to a few natural objects we may make some interesting discoveries…


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.

All these sections are packed together in a container that is quite distinctive in 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 other surface and the sections packed inside. The material is in origin all of the same type, but it is suitably differentiated according to it’s 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 packing container, following the growing tendency of today is not returnable and may be the thrown away.

The form of each section exactly follow the disposition of the teeth in the human mouth, so that once a section has been successfully extracted from the outer container it may be placed between the teeth, and a light pressure is enough to burst the envelope and extract the juice. Apart from the 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 consume: few if any of these 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 orange is there an almost perfect object in which one may observe an absolute coherence of form, function and consumption. Even the colour is exactly right. It would be quite wrong if such an object were blue.


Image by Gyorgy Weil

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