Founded in 1908 in Ivrea, in northern Itay, Olivetti established itself as a world leader in the manufacture of typewriters and calculators, and later moved into computers. Between 1932 and 1960, Adriano Olivetti, the son of the company’s founder, led the company to international success, making its name a synonym for excellence and innovation and, at the same time, reflecting on material progress, technical efficiency and the ethics of responsibility for his company.

A meeting with Folon
During the 1960s, at the instigation of the company’s artistic director Giorgio Soavi, Olivetti approached young artists for its product launches. At the same time, it was implicitly promoting the image of a company open to communication and aware of the cultural value of art. Its collaboration with the Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon was a case in point. They were first in contact in 1962, and then, in March 1965, Soavi offered Folon a first commission to produce a poster for the Lettera 32 typewriter, Olivetti’s new portable model which was to replace the Lettera 22. Soavi even arranged for Olivetti’s French subsidiary to send a Lettera 32 to Folon, so he could try it for himself. This first commission marked the beginning of a long collaboration with the company and of a close friendship with Giorgio Soavi. Folon’s circle of friends also grew to include other artists such as Bob Blechman, Milton Glaser and Pierre Alechinsky.

Curators Paola Mantovani, Marcella Turchetti with the collaboration of the Fondation Folon.

The exhibition is organised by the Museo Civico Garda and the Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti in Ivrea, Italy, in partnership with the Fondation Folon and the Design Museum Brussels.