VALENTINE

ETTORE SOTTSASS

In 1969, Ettore Sottsass [1917-2007] created the Valentine, a portable typewriter, together with British designer Perry A. King [b.1938]. It was made of ABS plastic, a material prized for its rigidity, its lightness, and the fact that it lends itself easily to injection-moulding. The Valentine’s appearance contrasted strongly with that of previous typewriters. Bright red in colour, it was compact in design and its mechanism was visible.

Only the caps of its twin ribbon spools were yellow, a detail often interpreted as a robot’s eyes. Featuring a handle at the back, it could be carried with or without its case, which could also serve as a stand. The Valentine’s design evokes the 1960s, when the aesthetics and playful nature of Pop Art were enjoying huge popularity. This was also a time when people hankered after a free, adventurous lifestyle, while taking full advantage of new technology, particularly plastics.

Born in Austria of an Italian father and an Austrian mother, ETTORE SOTTSASS studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Turin. Interested in designing objects, he founded his own agency in Milan.In 1956, he met the Director of Olivetti, Adriano Olivetti [1901-1960], and became the firm’s design consultant, a position he held until 1980. He began to design computers, electronic typewriters, calculators and office furniture. A theoretician as well as a practitioner, Sottsass was a leading figure in the world of 20th century design. He was an active member of radical Anti-Design movements, firstly through Studio Alchimia, and later through the Memphis Group and the “Sottsass Associati”, which he established in 1981.

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