Olivetti typewriters in display cabinets in a still from 'Olivetti – Paradigm' (2020)
Olivetti typewriters in display cabinets in a still from 'Olivetti – Paradigm' (2020)
Olivetti – Paradigm (2020)

ACMI and the Italian Institute of Culture Melbourne present

Olivetti – Paradigm

Paradigma Olivetti

Davide Maffei | Italy | | Unclassified (All Ages)

A fascinating and expansive survey of the corporate and cultural history of Italian industrial design innovator, Olivetti

Dejan Sudjic, former director of the Design Museum, London, sets the tone for this illuminating history of Italian design innovator, Olivetti, when he describes the clear ethos that informed the company's development and set it apart: that "industry must serve people". Davide Maffei's feature length documentary – the first of two films by the director on the history of Olivetti screening as part of the MDFF season at ACMI – charts developments and innovations in the company from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Olivetti's 'machines' were already considered icons of postwar Italian design when the son of founder Camillo Olivetti, Adriano Olivetti – who had assumed management of his father's company in 1933 and steered it to ever greater success – died suddenly in 1960. In the corporate reshuffle that followed, Olivetti retained Underwood, the American typewriter company it had just purchased, but ceded its electronics division to General Electric; a fork in the road with far-reaching implications for the company. The 'post-Adriano' decades that followed saw the arrival at Olivetti of architect/designers Ettore Sottsass and Mario Bellini, seminal figures in the expansion of Olivetti's industrial design repertoire beyond (stunning!) typewriters (cue retro ads for Olivetti's timeless Lettera 32 and funky 'Communist red' portable Valentine typewriter with plastic 'bucket' ) into tactile calculators, copiers, printers, modular office systems and integrated furnishings as well as, arguably, one of the world's first personal computers, the Programma 101.

Parallel to this shift from traditional mechanics to electronics, Olivetti – Paradigm also surveys the company's sophisticated use of avant-garde graphics in its corporate identity and international advertising campaigns, and innovations in the interior design of showrooms and exhibition architecture. Renowned designers Albert Leclerc, Michele de Lucchi and George Sowden feature among an impressive roster of interviewees who relate the genesis for some of the revolutionary designs they innovated during their time with the company.

Format: DCP
Language: English and Italian with English subtitles
Duration: 90 min


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90 mins


Unclassified (All Ages)


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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