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Art & Design

Ettore Sottsass, Jr., Valentine Portable Typewriter and Case, 1969, Gift of Glenn Gissler

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Olivetti Manufacturing Company Ettore Sottsass, Jr. Perry A. King

Valentine Portable Typewriter and Case

Ettore Sottsass, Jr., designer
Italian, 1917-2007
Perry A. King, designer
British, b. 1938
Olivetti Manufacturing Company, manufacturer
Italian, 1908-present
Valentine Portable Typewriter and Case
Plastic, rubber and metal
10.2 x 32.7 x 32.7 cm (4 x 12 7/8 x 12 7/8 inches)
Gift of Glenn Gissler 2005.97.2

Introduced on Valentine’s Day with a flurry of advertising, the Olivetti Company’s bright-red portable typewriter was an instant sensation of the Pop Art movement. Ettore Sottsass and Perry King designed valentine to be the “anti-machine machine,” meaning that it functioned as a typewriter but also had a humanized quality lacking in most office equipment. Sottsass noted that his seductive red typewriter was for use “in any place except an office … rather to keep amateur poets company on quiet Sundays.” To further differentiate valentine from workaday equipment, Sottsass’s early designs lacked both uppercase type and the bell signaling the end of a typewritten line. Understandably, Olivetti manufactured the typewriter with these necessary features, but the lowercase “v” in the logo above the keyboard recalls the designer’s original intention.

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