It is said that a masterpiece is such when it does not age with time and, on the contrary, it acquires value and beauty in the years to come.
This is what happens to the portable Olivetti typewriters, which have passed from being an object of common use, present in every post-war work desk, to being exhibited in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Adriano Olivetti joined the company created by his father Camillo in 1926 as a worker, in 1932 he became its director and immediately devoted himself to the creation of the MP1, an innovative design typewriter that weighed less than a third of the previous model.
Adriano Olivetti was a visionary entrepreneur who gave birth to a truly revolutionary business reality for that time.
He set up a well-stocked library for his employees, he regularly organized conferences and concerts, and the factory itself became a continuous exchange between intellectuals, writers and artists who transferred this cultural effervescence also into the product designing.
We brought our secret weapons to all the villages: books, courses, works of ingenuity and art. We believe in the revolutionary value of culture that gives men their real power.
In 1950 the MP1 was replaced by the legendary Lettera 22, designed by Giuseppe Beccio and Marcello Nizzoli, which became a real mass phenomenon, being produced in 200,000 units a year and winner of the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award for the best industrial design. In 1963, the Lettera 32, its heir, was presented offering even better performances.
But the real cult model for lovers of Beauty is the Valentine typewriter, designed by Ettore Sottsass and Perry King in 1968 in a flaming red color.
The first model entirely in plastic, it will remain in the history of fashion thanks to the photo of Brigitte Bardot shot in 1969 while the actress was leaving a hotel wearing a Valentine just like a handbag.
These and other models of Olivetti typewriters, videos and advertising posters are the protagonists of the exhibition “Design and culture according to Olivetti’s thinking”, part of [e]Design Festival curated by Luciano Setten and Cappelli Identity Design, with the collaboration of Adriano Olivetti Foundation and Olivetti Historical Archive Association, set up at the Santa Caterina Museum in Treviso.
Ph. Pamela Zamberlan