Sunday, June 19, 2016

Venice: Piazza San Marco – Olivetti Showroom – S.O.S. Exhibition opening

“I have tried to capture as best I could the possible terms of a new vitality and to capture the forms, the symbols that could represent the multiplications of images of the century and the shift from intellectual organizations to a sort of pure vital energy.”
 Ettore Sottsass

Venice: Piazza San Marco – Olivetti Showroom – S.O.S. Exhibition opening. In conjunction with the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, the Olivetti Showroom, a property run by FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano (Italy’s National Trust) and located in St Mark’s Square, is playing host to S.O.S. Sottsass Olivetti Synthesis, until August 21, the first exhibition dedicated to the revolutionary Synthesis 45 office furniture system, presented by Olivetti in 1973 and designed by Ettore Sottsass, who was then the design manager of the Ivrea-based company.


Ettore Sottsass

The exhibition anticipates by a year the centenary of Ettore Sottsass’s birth and thus inaugurates the associated celebrations. S.O.S. is curated by Marco Meneguzzo, art critic and lecturer in History of Contemporary Art at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, Enrico Morteo, architect, historian and architecture and design critic, and Alberto Saibene, cultural historian and creator of films and documentaries.


S.O.S. – Sottsass Olivetti Synthesis. Sixty works are on show, including original furnishings and documents, many of which have never been exhibited before; desks, chairs, modular wall units, drawer units, filing cabinets and accessories such as coat racks, umbrella stands, wastepaper baskets, ashtrays, pen holders, pencil sharpeners and telephone stands, all produced in the Olivetti Synthesis plants at Massa Carrara and together composing an ensemble of office furniture, the like of which had never been seen before. Rather than sumptuous forms and rich materials, there was a preference for simplicity of line and functionality, while the modularity made it possible to customize the composition of the furniture, choosing from the various colors which were plastic pieces in muted shades, from grey to caffelatte, plum, light blue and yellow. Color, which in the 1960s was rare in office design, and was one of the system’s most distinctive features: very much a part of the design, but neutral and understated in order to induce a new vision of the office with the potential to customize that space. The Synthesis 45 furniture no longer differentiated itself on the basis of rigid corporate hierarchies, but on the various operational requirements of the user.

Archistar Vittorio Gregotti

Archistar Mario Bellini

S.O.S. – Sottsass Olivetti Synthesis

Sottsass used as a dimensional standard a rigid spatial grid with a 45 centimeter base – the figure that gave the system its name – a basic unit with which he fixed the size of the office furnishings, taking account of the space required for the electronic devices and telephones that would be sited on those pieces.

  Drinks in Piazza San Marco

Co-curator Alberto Saibene and Jean Blanchaert

France Thierard, Cristina Beltrami and Roberto De Feo

Patrick J. Carroll Maria Grazia Rosin and Giannino Malossi
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