Exhibition presents a little-known chapter of Olivetti history

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Exhibition presents a little-known chapter of Olivetti history
Ettore Sottsass, Jr., Jukebox, 1968. Photo by Gianni Berengo Gardin.

FLORENCE.- The exhibition The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) curated by Caterina Toschi and produced by Ellyn Toscano, New York University Florence, opened on March 14, 2018 at Villa Sassetti, Florence.

The exhibition seeks to reconstruct the history of the Olivetti image from 1952 to 1979 through photographs and documents linked to three places where Olivetti products were displayed (exhibitions, stores and the school), and in which narrative forms – oral, written and visual – of the Olivetti identity were progressively developed. Photographs by Aldo Ballo, Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Walter Binder, Giorgio Colombo, Erich Hartmann, Wayne Miller, Paolo Monti, Ugo Mulas, Ezra Stoller document the interiors of Olivetti stores, designed by the most important avant-garde architects of the time (Gae Aulenti, Ignazio Gardella, Leo Lionni, Carlo Scarpa and BBPR Studio), as well as the pioneering exposition Olivetti: Design in Industry, at the Museum of Modern Art of New York (October-November 1952), and the traveling exhibitions Stile Olivetti (1961-1966) (Zurich, Nairobi, Hong Kong), and Formes et Recherche (1969-1971), designed by Gae Aulenti (France, Germany, Japan, England and Spain). Furthermore, the exhibition The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) presents a little-known chapter of Olivetti history: it reconstructs for the first time the experience of the CISV-Centro Istruzione e Specializzazione Vendite (Center for Teaching Specializations of Olivetti Sales) (1954-1979), a residential training center opened in Florence in 1954, aimed at educating new hires not only about a particular sales style, but also about the company’s values and objectives through a revolutionary model of industrial pedagogy with a technical/humanistic bent. This experience is narrated in the exhibition The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) through a rich iconographic apparatus that illustrates both the academic life at CISV, located on the La Pietra estate, today home of NYU Florence and the value of the 'displayed' products for the rise of Olivetti visual identity on the international scene.

The book The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979), by Caterina Toschi, published by Quodlibet in Italian and in English, and produced by NYU Florence was presented at the opening.

The volume aims to reconstruct, through photographs and documents, the development of the Olivetti corporate identity from 1952 to 1979, as it was conveyed through various types of spaces for the exposition and description of its products: exhibitions, stores and its school. The display methods and the written, oral and visual forms of ‘storytelling’ that brought the instantly-recognizable Olivetti idiom international success come together here for the first time, from the little-known exposition Olivetti: Design in Industry, held from October to November 1952 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to the CISV, Centro Istruzione e Specializzazione Vendite (Center for Teaching Specializations of Olivetti Sales) (1954-1979), the first Italian school of marketing with a technical/humanistic focus, portrayed here through archival documentation and photographs by Paolo Monti and Gabriele Basilico. Photos by Aldo Ballo, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Erich Hartmann, Wayne Miller and Ugo Mulas document Olivetti showrooms and stores designed by Gae Aulenti, Ignazio Gardella, Leo Lionni, Carlo Scarpa and BBPR Studio, in major international metropolises (Buenos Aires, Chicago, Düsseldorf, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Venice, Vienna), as well as the traveling exposition Stile Olivetti (1961-1966) shown around the world in cities including Zurich, Nairobi and Hong Kong. The experimental exhibition Formes et Recherche (1969-1971), conceived by Gae Aulenti and depicted in photographs by Giorgio Colombo and Ugo Mulas, concludes this chapter in Olivetti’s history, a legacy of excellence that contributed much to building the identity of Italian industry. Edizione inglesehttps://www.quodlibet. it/ libro/9788822901989

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