Universo Olivetti. Community as a Concrete Utopia — Book

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Published in conjunction with Universo Olivetti. Community as a Concrete Utopia exhibition, the book narrates the experience of Olivetti industry, one of the most peculiar chapter in the history of 20th-century Italy. Not only as a company but also as a laboratory for a new vision of society, politics, and culture, Olivetti born in Ivrea (Ivrea, Industrial City of the 20th Century has recently been added in the UNESCO World Heritage List) and then widespread outside it.

The factory represented in fact a model for an integrated society, the Humana Civilitas, ideal nevertheless real, and Ivrea the starting point of this new model of community, in which not only industrial design and the manufacturing but also the cultural and political initiatives are part of this whole system.

As in the words of Adriano Olivetti “architecture is the form in which a society expresses itself” and this is why he commissioned many architectural and urban planning projects to shape his vision (e.g. the ICO Workshops and their extensions by Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini on Corso Jervis, Ivrea); the factory is not only the place for developing new technologies (in 1969 NASA scientists work with the aid of the Olivetti Programma 101 electronic desktop computer) but also for the creation of new visual languages (the Olivetti Valentine designed by Ettore Sottsass and Perry A. King in 1969; advertising posters by Giovanni Pintori; the corporate identity by Xanti Schawinsky, Walter Ballmer); the welfare system is not only the opportunity to take care of the employees (e.g. the library of the Olivetti company cafeteria in Ivrea by Ignazio Gardella; the Olivetti nursery school in Ivrea by Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini) but also the duty of a chief with a good amount of ethic.

The book holds essays by Pippo Ciorra, Giuseppe Berta, Enrico Morteo, Alberto Saibene, Daniele Balicco and a gallery of images and documents divided in four themed section as in the exhibition (City and Politics, Factory, Culture and Image, Society). The book also contains the results of a commissioned art photography campaign. A Chronology at the end of the book traces the history of Olivetti all over the years.

 

Edited by Pippo Ciorra, Francesca Limana, Matilde Trevisani; texts by Simona Antonacci, Daniele Balicco, Giuseppe Berta, Pippo Ciorra, Francesca Limana, Enrico Morteo, Alberto Saibene, Matilde Trevisani. Photographs by Luca Campigotto, Claudio Gobbi, Francesco Mattuzzi, Valentina Vannicola.
The book is published by Edizioni di Comunità in conjunction with Universo Olivetti. Community as a Concrete Utopia exhibition produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with Fondazione MAXXI – MAXXI Architectural and Fondazione Adriano Olivetti.

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