An entrepreneurial dream, which took its first steps as a provincial office supplies factory. This is how the Olivetti brand was born, embodying the ideal of innovation and the culture of aesthetics. Valued for the unique design of its products, and for actually designing the first electronic calculators worldwide.
Under the portico of the elegant – and, more often than not, packed – San Marco Square, you can find the shop-window where Adriano Olivetti wisely chose to showcase his famous typewriters, as he knew how important exhibition spaces are.
Open since 1958, today the store is able to convey the mastery of Carlo Scarpa, the Venetian architect who restored the space, and the history of one of the most avant-garde companies of the last century.
The rearrangement of space
The showroom was meant to embody the essence of the Olivetti products that countless Italians had in their houses or offices: a minimal setting, structured with simple lines. In fact, after a first overall look, the rooms express no more than the perfection of defined shapes and the delicacy of soft colors.
Although, one afternoon, under Mariangela’s lead, we find it to be a space filled with subtle details and hidden architectural secrets, where nothing is left to chance. Not even the screws, which were specifically designed for the occasion by Scarpa himself.
Many are the details recalling Japanese culture and its symbols, from which he got the inspiration necessary for the restoration.
In other details, instead, Venetian modernity and tradition encounter themselves in the middle, in a perfect balance of shapes and materials. The pieces of Murano glass that decorate the floor are similar to the mosaics we can see in the San Marco Basilica. Their irregular pattern creates the illusion of wavy waters. The woods and plaster covering the walls are also of Venetian tradition.
At the entry, a fountain pays homage to the lagoon, and to the tides that often torment Venice, particularly the Square, which is the lowest point in the city.
Nonetheless it is the central stairway made of Aurisina marble that takes dominance of this long and open space. Its out of phase steps are an undoubtable reference to the moving paper table of typewriters.
Among the exhibited pieces you can find Lettera 22, which was a huge success thanks to its light and compact design, perfect to travel with.
This place encases the history of the company in a modern key through the work of an architectural master who knew how to enrich its interior, making it brighter and welcoming. There, art and architecture coexist perfectly thanks to the exquisite union of shapes, colors and materials.
Since 2011, FAI (Fondo Ambientale Italiano) has taken care of its visiting schedules, recounting how the space was to begin with and highlighting its design and architecture.
The success of Olivetti
Entrepreneur, intellectual, essayist and political figure. Adriano Olivetti will be the one to create the brand as we know it today, foreshadowing the worldwide technological revolution of the last century. An innovative personality who stood out in his time for desiring and conquering his industrial dream.
His business was supposed to be a factory of “good”, other than of “goods”. The profit gained from his business was meant to be redistributed to benefit the whole community. For this reason, he included libraries and children daycares to support his workers: it was a true entrepreneurial revolution at the time.
Hence, he was a socialist-liberal industrial entrepreneur, as he called himself, who was able to look beyond mere profit.
Before taking the reins of his father Camillo’s business, he spent a period of time overseas to study and deepen his knowledge on the production systems in America. He paid a visit to many industries: that was a key move for his future commercial success along with his continuous collaboration with designers, artists, and painters.
Although, they were not the only ones weighing in: historians and poets were hired too, as they were considered crucial for the efficiency of his activity.
Olivetti was the first Italian multinational business to reach America, especially thanks to Adriano’s avant-garde approach in terms of communication and marketing. A visionary and a foreshadower, he contributed to the spreading of Made in Italy taste throughout the whole world.
The Olivetti Store is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM-6:30 PM.