May 25 – July 17, 2016
ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), London
Founded as a typewriter manufacturing company by Camillo Olivetti in 1908 in Ivrea, Italy, Olivetti is considered one of the leading manufacturers of the mid-20th century. Recognizing the importance of design over pure functionalism, a concept largely owed to his son, Adriano Olivetti, the company produced some of the most iconic hand-typing devices and early computers of the 20th century. This exhibit presents photographs, films and ephemera relating to Olivetti’s graphic and spatial design, as well as architecture. Focusing largely on the industrial boom of the post-war era, a key period in Olivetti’s history and a time which saw the creation of the iconic Valentine typewriter and the company’s increasing move towards computer technologies.
Olivetti’s innovative design ethos extended beyond its products and can be found in its advertisements, considered pioneering for the ways in which they communicated complex, extensive information through a bold, simplified aesthetic, but also through interior design and architecture, as seen in the company’s numerous showrooms and shop window displays which were conceptualised and transformed into unique installations. The exhibition creates a historical lineage and shows the progressive cultural ideals at the heart of the company’s ethos, a model which still resonates today.