Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The story of Olivetti and the Typewriter

Olivetti Showroom, Switzerland, 1957

Olivetti began as a small Italian company founded in 1908 by Camillo Olivetti and was made a staple in design history by his son, Adriano Olivetti. A manufacturer of manual typewriters, as well as Italy's first computer, the Elea 9003, Adriano Olivetti employed designers who dreamt of the same collusion of experience, technology and product. Industrialization was at its height at the turn of the century and both father and son sought to produce a product that reflected the changes to the modern workplace and apply design that was sensitive the the social aspects of labour. They integrated technology and innovation with an attention to detail and a fervor for aesthetic that is so quintessentially Italian in its quest for perfection. Their products and even their advertisements are testimony to their progressive approach to design; they belie an inherent understanding that the objects that surround you affect you in subtle and profound ways.

M1 standard typewriter, designed by Camillo Olivetti is the first model (hence the name "M1") of Italian typewriter, made by Olivetti. It was presented at the Universal Exhibition in Turin in 1911.

1912 Poster for the the M1 typewriter, by Teodoro Wolf Ferrari featuring Italian poet Alighieri Dante. Genius.

Elea 9003, Italy's first mainframe computer, Designed in 1957 by Ettore Sottsass, Mario Tchou and Roberto Olivetti, winning them the prestigious 1959 Compasso d'Oro

Advertisement for the Olivetti Lettera 22, designed by Marcello Nizzoli in 1950, also winning the Compasso d'Oro and chosen by the Illinois Institute of Technology as the best design of the last 100 years.

Advertisment for the Olivetti Valentine, now a coveted piece of any design enthusiast's collection. Designed by Ettore Sosstra, 1969, considered by him to be an "anti-machine machine". A portable, vibrant game changer, as well as an interesting precursor to his post-modern legacy, THE MEMPHIS SCHOOL


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