Bruno Munari, Meo Romeo the Cat, and kids’ honesty

Bruno Munari, gatto Meo Romeo, 1949

In the mid-1940s, the great Milanese designer Bruno Munari (1907-1998) started to explore the world of educational toys.

His foam rubber Gatto Meo – featured in these images – was manufactured in 1949 for Pirelli-Pigomma, for whom Munari also created Zizì The Monkey four years later, winning the 1954 Compasso d’Oro.

When asked about Meo Romeo, Munari commented, “When a cat is soft, smooth, clean; when you can place him in different positions and he just stays, when he never pees anywhere, you don’t have to take care of him, you don’t need to feed him, and when he’s got nylon whiskers… what else can you wish for? What does Meo Romeo lack? A voice, I know, but so does the “Mona Lisa”. And the “Mona Lisa” is not soft to touch; she’s still, and you can’t make her turn around. Meo Romeo is the new foam rubber cat designed for modern kids. Meo is merely bigger than your palm, similar to newborn kittens, and is black with yellow eyes…”

We know Munari appreciated children’s honesty. He considered them an ideal public because they know what they want, they have no prejudices, and if they don’t like something they say so straightaway. If other people were like that, many relationships would be much simpler (Bruno Munari, “The foam rubber cat has nylon whiskers”, in Pirelli’s magazine “Rivista di informazione tecnica”, no. 4, July 1949, p. 25, Milan, 1949).

April 27, 2015