Bruno Munari: A taste for taste

In 1944, Bruno Munari expands on a few possible combinations between different historical styles, exploring a phenomenon of the time by which we objects and things from other eras are enjoyed not with the taste that produced them but with the "taste for taste".

 

From the archive / Bruno Munari

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This article was originally published in Domus 193 / January 1944

A taste for taste
In recent times, we have witnessed humble objects characteristic of a past era being shifted from the loft to the living room and occupying prominent positions. Why? It is the "taste for taste", a curious phenomenon representative, to my mind, of our times and by which we enjoy objects and things from other eras not with the taste that produced them but with another taste that is the "taste for taste" (I am little bothered by the tongue-twister, so long as it is clear).

Before this approach emerged, normal people entered antiques shops in the hope of purchasing a piece "in the same style" as their home and would never have placed a piece of baroque furniture in a Rational house. It would have been considered a ridiculous or crazy action, unexplained by logic.

It took an artist to discover this taste. I believe Le Corbusier was the first when he put a piece of baroque furniture into one of his houses. After him, the discovery became a fashion but a lifeless one, the mere imitation of a bright idea.

Top left, Arp; right, Giacomo Balla, design for a lamp. From the pages of Domus 193 / January 1944

After that, old furniture previously thrown out of the window by modern architects came back in through the front door of a Rational house by then considered too "cold". Let us be clear, the inhabitants of that modern house were certainly not embracing those antique pieces and those objects in an abandonment of the modern style and a return to the old. No. They welcomed them with another taste: the "taste for taste", somewhat ironically initially but eventually quite earnest (humanity is ruined by over earnestness).

From the pages of Domus 193 / January 1944

I believe, however, that the idea was not exploited in all its force. I would like to have a park with a number of pavilions. In one, I would create a Rococo interior and put a white glass and metal desk with a luminator in it. In a polished-crystal interior, I would place a large baroque armchair. In another, a 15th-century table surrounded by Viennese cane chairs. In another, an Art-Nouveau bookcase with neoclassical chairs and sofa. In another, a Gothic room with Persian rugs, De Chirico pictures and a large Pompeian marble table. Lastly, in a grotto, I would put four 17th-century armchairs with everything required for modern-day smoking and an abstract picture of mine. You think I am crazy? We shall see. Bruno Munari

 
It took an artist to discover this taste. I believe Le Corbusier was the first when he put a piece of baroque furniture into one of his houses
 

From the pages of Domus 193 / January 1944

Many combinations are possible with the taste for taste and examples are presented here. You may already have seen something like this but no architect has yet been brave enough to "discover" bamboo and we are not yet ready for a "taste" for Futurism or of ... Rational design.

Left, Le Corbusier. From the pages of Domus 193 / January 1944