ARTE FRANCE, ARTCORE FILM, LAPSUS
German, English, French
NON-THEATRICAL, TV, DVD
The red plastic Valentine typewriter was designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1969 for the progressive, modernist Italian firm Olivetti.
The red plastic Valentine typewriter was designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1969 for the progressive, modernist Italian firm Olivetti. At Olivetti the industrial designer was not merely a stylist, but a specialist in the relationship between man and machine. Since 1958, Ettore Sottsass had worked regularly with Olivetti, in exchange for total creative freedom. The Valentine was described by Olivetti as "a real pop object designed to blend into the private space". Sottsass co-founded the Memphis Group in 1981.
The keyboard of the Valentine was no longer weighed down by a heavy frame. It featured an inbuilt handle to make it easy to carry, and a case that differed radically from earlier sheaths, boxes and trunks. The Valentine stowed away into a curious hybrid of industrial container and feminine accessory, reminiscent of a stocking that you attach to a suspender-belt. The bright red colour made one think of lipstick or nail varnish and, sideways on, even its shape was reminiscent of a lipstick in its casing. The typewriter had always been associated with the emancipation of women (giving them access to the world of work), but now the object itself had been feminised. At once provocative and alluring, the bright red colour of the Valentine could also be associated with the Italian Formula One racing stables and the Chinese Cultural Revolution which took place between 1962 and 1967.
The name "Valentine" has complex associations, too - from the jazz melody "My funny Valentine" to the British tank, Maurice Chevalier to George Sand, Valentine Hugo to Valentine Visconti and Rudolph Valentino, not to mention a famous brand of industrial paint whose posters made use of art and were in turn used by a range of artists, from Italian pop art and arte povera painters such as Rotella and Festa, to the cartoon-style prints of Warhol and Lichtenstein. And then there is Valentina, the sensual Italian cartoon-strip heroine created by Guido Crepax in 1968, a liberated young woman who acts out her erotic fantasies in reality, sporting a haircut that is a conscious allusion to silent-movie Hollywood rebel Louise Brooks but also reminds us of the sleek lines of the Valentine typewriter.