Valentine Portable Typewriter

Ettore Sottsass Italian, born Austria
Perry King British
Manufacturer Ing. C. Olivetti & C. S.p.A., Ivrea, Italy

Not on view

After sixty years of work, Sottsass felt that he had become known solely for this "red machine" that "came out a mistake." He had intended it to be an inexpensive portable with no lowercase letters, no bell, and a cheap plastic case, but Olivetti objected. Despite his later misgivings about the Valentine’s production, Sottsass transcended the sameness of typewriter design to give it an endearing personality. He tuned into Pop art, citing the orange nipples and pink breasts in Tom Wesselman’s nudes as inspiration for the orange scroll caps. He noted he used bright red "so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours."

The Valentine never reached mass audiences, despite the iconic advertising campaign he conceived. Images included a graphic of the Valentine in white against a red background, and the typewriter at various sites, such as the Acropolis. It did, however, presage the use of color to differentiate and customize the user’s relationship to technology products, as exemplified in Apple’s candy-colored iMacs and the computer produced by One Laptop per Child.

Valentine Portable Typewriter, Ettore Sottsass (Italian (born Austria), Innsbruck 1917–2007 Milan), ABS plastic and other materials

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