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Quote of Note | Deyan Sudjic

Ettore Sottsass’s Valentine typewriter, designed in 1969, was made in tens of thousands at the Olivetti factory in Barcelona. What makes it fascinating is that it was the first time a company that specialized in making office equipment tried to turn the kind of machine that signalled work into something that looked playful. Or, as Sottsass put it, the kind of thing that might keep poets company on lonely Sundays in the country.

Sottsass made the Valentine bright red and used moulded plastic for the shell. The two ribbon spools were bright orange. According to Perry King, Sottsass’s British assistant on the project, the spools were meant to suggest the flashing of a pair of nipples. Less sexist, the carrying case was designed to be as stylish as the machine itself and could, at a push, be turned into a makeshift stool. But the marketing department at Olivetti vetoed Sottsass’s other idea: that it should only have upper case letters so as to simplify the mechanism and lower the price. The company saw itself as radical but not that radical.”

-Deyan Sudjic, director of London’s Design Museum, in the Financial Times

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