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International Decorative Art

Valentine Portable Typewriter

Valentine Portable Typewriter

Design Date
1969

Designer
Ettore Sottsass Jr. (1917–2007, Italian) & Perry King (b. 1938, English)

Manufacturer
Ing. C. Olivetti and Company SpA (1908–present), Barcelona, Spain

Media
metal and ABS plastic

Dimensions
4 x 13 x 13 1/2 inches

The Valentine Portable Typewriter with its matching case are a playful red plastic. Said designer Ettore Sottsass, Jr., of the typewriter’s color: “Every color has a history. Red is the color of the Communist flag, the color that makes a surgeon move faster and the color of passion.” Though the typewriter was conventionally a piece of office equipment, Sottsass declared that the Valentine “was invented for use in any place but an office, so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours, but rather to keep amateur poets company on quiet Sundays in the country or to provide a highly colored object on a table in a studio apartment.” The Valentine’s playful attitude extended to its user manual, which began, “Dear Valentine, this is to tell you that you are my friend as well as my Valentine, and that I intend to write you lots of letters.” Sottsass called it “an unpretentious toy”. An advertising campaign for the Valentine showed people of all ages holding it all over the world, touting the Valentine as a democratic typewriter. In another ad, the typewriter sat next to an Irish Setter, projecting the idea that the Valentine is loyal and humble like man’s best friend. The Valentine typewriter won Sottsass the Compasso d’Oro, an award for Italian industrial design, in 1970.

Not currently on view

Markings
Raised "valentine" and "olivetti" marks, "made in olivetti plant" "barcelona - spain"

Credit Line
Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number
2004.0500

Other Modern works