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...from Valentines to Apples...!

   

 

  

eCognoscente loves the idea of living in a completely designed space on every level….  The evolution of modern industrial design really began with William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement, on to Behrens and the Bauhaus and Mies and what became a 20th century merging of form and function -- attempts to bring refinement and style to even the most ordinary of objects.  The idea that design affects how we feel, and consequently how we work….  We spend more time at our computers than ever before, and we thought it was time to revisit the work of Italian designer Ettore Sottsass.  Sottsass designed the now iconic Olivetti Valentine typewriter (along with colleague Perry A. King) in 1969.  Unmistakably, beautifully, boldly red, the typewriter was designed in large color blocks that separated functions, and came with a matching plastic case.  Bulky cast-iron was replaced by lightweight plastic.  It was a typewriter one longed to sit at and pound away and soon after being released on Valentine’s Day the typewriter became a fashion must for the chic signora, an “anti-machine machine” as Sottsass once described it”.  What Sottsass did was to take the design of the portable typewriter several steps farther with the fusion of material, form and color -- releasing it in a bright red that made it different from anything that had come before.  Sottsass famously said, Every color has a history.  Red is the color of the Communist flag, the color that makes a surgeon move faster and the color of passion.”  

 

 


Apple Power Mac G4, 1999

 

Olivetti shares a certain design philosophy with Apple; the idea of an emphasis on  design as a corporate philosophy.  Jonathan Ive and the The Design Team at Apple brought us the Power Mac G4 in 1999, and a continuous stream of beautiful objects, many of which were instant icons.  Jonathan Ive states: "An object exists at the meeting of technology and people….”  Design at the service of knowledge—a tantalizing idea.  Red the color of love and of apples, the fruit that first tempted Adam with access to knowledge and began a quest for wisdom that continues to this day.  We’ve come full circle then with Sottsass’s Valentine’s day gift to design: love and knowledge, a powerful, red-hot combination.   

 

See: Olivetti Valentine, MoMA Permanent Collection 

 

 

 

 

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