Seventy years old without showing it. That’s about how long ago it was when architect and designer Marcello Nizzoli, employed by Olivetti starting in 1938, designed, based on a project by architect Marcello Nizzoli with engineer Giuseppe Beccio, a design icon known as Lettera 22. This famed portable typewriter, a result of Italian passion and know-how, is preserved today, in six different models, in the collections of the Triennale Design Museum of Milan. You can almost still hear the fingertips of great Italian journalists and writers, such as Indro Montanelli, Enzo Biagi and Giorgio Bocca pounding on the QZERTY keyboard of their inseparable companion in telling stories and the news. Awarded, in 1954, the Compasso d’Oro Prize and elected, five years later, by the Illinois Institute of Technology, as the best product design of the century, this design jewel helped write Italian history from the ‘50s onward. Thanks to its reduced size, it barely weighed 4 kilos, with its aluminium carriage in pink, green or blue, the Lettera 22 was extremely easy to carry in its convenient handled case, made of either cardboard or imitation leather. Today, an attentive observer would notice its missing “1” key. But this was because one would simply use the lower-case “l” key or the upper-case “I”. There was no zero either, substituted by the upper-case “O”. In place of the missing accented vowels in Italian, something which would torment language purists today (maybe not too much), one would simply type an apostrophe after such vowels. The production of the Lettera 22 was suspended in 1965, five years after the death of the visionary industrialist, Adriano Olivetti.
Samantha De Martin - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano