Brick shaped soaps to fight the illegal buildings industry

MENELAVO is a family of four soaps in the shape of a brick. Each is designed to sensitize the Italian citizen to unauthorized construction. They are a sarcastic reaction to a practice the every day Italian citizen often “washes their hands” of. The citizen, used to the chronicle often full of unpleasant news, let’s his anger go in ways that rarely translate into concrete action. Here is where they “wash their hands”, in an attitude of carelessness that doesn’t stop the unscrupulous individuals from continuing to sign off shady deals at the expense of citizens, the environment and its institutions.

A (huge) problem

Italy is one of the countries with the largest number of illegal buildings on its territory. This problem is born because of different situations, from the mafia working in government bodies to the bankruptcy of individuals that invest public money unwisely. All these situations affect the beauty of the county, because of the arrogance of the few and the passive nature of the many.

Let’s stop washing our hands of this issue

Developing the concept required several months of reflection on the subject of ruin, both atypical and contemporary, which we have been investigating for a long time in all its forms. The interesting thing about the ruins is that they carry a story, glorious, macabre, sad and sometimes simply to forget, but that nevertheless needs to be understood. Today, paradoxically, the ruins are no longer buildings that have concluded their vitle cycle, but on the contrary buildings that have never seen it begin.

The first visual shows that we considered to insert a construction rod into the soap shape. This was due to the fact that we wanted to emphasize the costruction look & feel while trying to give the product another feature. The rod in fact was ment to act as part o the packaging and the perfect sport for hanging the soap in the shower.

However we realised that was a creazy idea, not only for the fact that the metal could have rust, but also because the rod would have no fucntion after the soap was gone.

Crafting the idea

The design of soaps involves a chain of steps that has remained the same for thousands of years. In its most elementary form, the production of soap takes place through the creation of a mould into which the soap is poured. The recipe changes depending on the result you want to achieve. Basically it is necessary to use a fat component (animal or vegetable) and soda, which guarantees the cleaning effect. If desired, essences and granules can be added to give the soap its aroma and consistency.

In this case, the four soaps were first designed, then 3D modeled on Fusion 360 and through a 3-axis CNC milling machine the masters were made of high-density polyurethane. From these we built the formworks for the silicone moulds and poured a previously prepared mixture into them. We have obtained colors, aromas and textures by trying different combinations of elements and different cooking times of the compound.


MENELAVO – A classic Italian soap opera

The family of products, whose names make a clear reference to the behaviours related to the practice of construction abuse, want to create a reaction from the consumer that encourages them to take a stand.

A platform to raise awareness

Our goal for the future is to provide, through an online platform, the opportunity for students, journalists and curious visitors to learn about the situation of construction abuse in Italy, and to take part in initiatives for the restoration of beautiful areas across the country. Each soap, in fact, has information about a special case, and parts of the sales money will be donated to partner associations who are against the funding of these constructions swiping the beauty of the Italian landscape.

Brand identity & Adv

The product branding needed to be visually strong and appealing. We recalled the ruin aesthetic and we worked upon this concept until we figured out that, as like the first visual, there was no need to enhance the concept. Then, we decided to work on the contrast between the concept of menelavo (literally “I wash my hand of”) and the image of “A classic italian soap opera”, playing with the double meaning of soap and the idea that problems in this country last for decades, pretty much like soap operas.

“Do you keep washing your hands of? Do not act as a usual italian” is the slogan we chose for the adv campaign. We know that italians can be very proud and touchy somethimes and that’s the reason for a campaign that aims to touch the depths of the viewer, stimulating him to take an interest and act for change.

Project infos

Year: February 2017
Project duration: 5 months
Client: NABA
Project coordinator: Lorenza Branzi, Giuseppe Tucci
Contributors: Sara Monacchi, Luca Viscardi, Maria Testelli
My role: research & analysis / design (product/graphic/campaign) / prototyping