Olivetti: Beyond Form and Function

Olivetti was founded as a typewriter manufacturing company in Ivrea, Italy, in 1908. Today the firm is best known for the Lettera 22 (1950) and Valentine (1969) typewriters. The company’s innovative design ethos extended beyond its products and can be found in its advertisements, as well as through interior design and architecture.

The AA Library is pleased to lend some Domus magazines to the exhibition, ‘Olivetti: Beyond Form and Function’, at the ICA from 25 May 2016 to 17 July 2016. The magazines show several advertisements by Olivetti, which were considered pioneering for the ways in which they communicated complex, extensive information through a bold, simplified aesthetic.


Throughout its history, Olivetti commissioned writers, designers, architects and artists: from BBPR, Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier, to Gae Aulenti, Walter Ballmer, Mario Bellini, Milton Glaser, Costantino Nivola, Marcello Nizzoli, Giovanni Pintori and Ettore Sottsass as well as former Bauhaus students Xanti Schawinsky and Herbert Bayer. The display creates a historical lineage and shows the progressive cultural ideals at the heart of the company’s ethos, a model which still resonates today.


Advertisement for Olivetti Divisumma, Domus no. 276-277, dicembre 1952
Advertisement for Olivetti Lettera 22, Domus no. 255, febbraio 1951
Advertisement for Olivetti Lettera 22, Domus no. 302 gennaio 1955