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usstellung Universum Olivetti
Officine ICO, zweite Fabrikerweiterung, 1939 – 1942, Entwurf Luigi Figini und Gino Pollini. Foto: © Luca Campigotto

Olivetti is a company that was driven by design and social ideas from an early stage, even if that now seems to be somewhat forgotten. It is thanks to Adriano Olivetti’s flair for design that the company sought to develop a type of corporate identity back in the 1930s, which Alexander Schawinsky took responsibility for. Later, Olivetti partnered with Marcello Nizzoli, Ettore Sottsass and Hans von Klier, who, among other things, recruited architect Egon Eiermann to build the German Olivetti headquarters in Frankfurt am Main.

The exhibition “Universum Olivetti. Gemeinschaft als konkrete Utopie” (The Olivetti Universe. Community as a Tangible Utopia, Link in German) wishes to teach about Adriano Olivetti’s big project, with its various aspects and all of its complexity. It is about industrial design, attentiveness to surroundings, cultural offerings, welfare, social responsibility and urban planning. Quite simply, it shows a business model that is still pioneering and exemplary today when considering all these perspectives. The show was conceived by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with MAXXI – the National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome – and the Adriano Olivetti Foundation. It is divided into four sections: City and Politics; Factory; Culture and Image; and Society. Using graphics, archive material and photographs, it presents the current relevance of Olivetti’s ideas just as much as it discusses the unique and innovative business model that was established in the city of Ivrea between the 1930s and 1960s. The factory and housing complexes of the Olivetti plant here have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018. The exhibition, organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in Berlin, can be seen at CLB Berlin from 26 August to 26 September.

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