The collection
Blue metal typewriter. Its open keyboard has dark grey keys and a red carriage return key. The bar for holding the paper in place and the ruler for measuring margins are in shiny metal.

Portable Typewriter, Lettera 22

Designed by
Marcello Nizzoli (1887–1969)
Enameled metal, chromium-plated steel, plastic, rubber
Produced by
Produced by Olivetti & C. SpA, Milan, Italy
11.5 x 30.1 x 31.4 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Barry Friedman and Patricia Pastor, D86.198.1

Before the age of computers, typewriters were standard office equipment, and the Italian company Olivetti hired leading designers to create some of the most beautiful office machines of the period. The smooth, rounded casing of this typewriter disguises the complex machinery inside. Nizzoli, who began to work for Olivetti as a graphic designer in 1936, was largely responsible for establishing the company’s pioneering integrated corporate image and commitment to modern design.

His role as design director of Olivetti was taken over by Ettore Sottsass and then by Mario Bellini, who continued the company’s commitment to progressive design.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley.