I have long been inspired by the artwork created for Olivetti in the 1930s, a beautiful series of ads and posters which feature vibrant colours and unusual layouts – a visual approach that seems way ahead of its time and which is still influential today. But coming across a really interesting article on qz.com this week really opened my eyes to what a landmark approach to marketing and business this Italian brand was founded on.
In 1932 Olivetti became (arguably) the world’s most influential typewriting company and its then leader Adriano Olivetti developed a uniquely philosophical view for the management of the business, which centred around treating his workers fairly, investing in their wellbeing and putting their needs at the centre of the business. This approach yielded profit from a satisfied and motivated workforce, which in turn was ploughed back into innovation. Revenue was invested in big public art projects and initiatives to benefit the community. Cultura Olivettiana (Olivetti’s culture) has left a strong mark in Italy’s management culture and is inspirational for any brand trying to establish their own innovative culture to enhance their product offering.
With innovation a central concern, it is no wonder then that Olivetti’s eye for design allowed for brave graphic design and product design choices to be made. Olivetti employed famous designers to design his typewriters, with some even gaining pride of place in MOMA New York due to the innovations they brought to the traditional typewriter design. Design of shop floors was also considered, with typewriters displayed in a way that allowed customers to get up close to the design and try them out, whilst ample space was left to the display of art pieces.
But it is the graphic design which most inspires me, designed by renowned designers and artists, in particular Giovanni Pintori. Whether it be promotional material or internal communications, the care taken to the look and feel of the brand and how it communicated its spirit of innovation is evident.