Objectify Me: Tim Brown on the Olivetti Valentine
[Note: This is the first in a series of special guest posts, in which people we like discuss designed objects that inspire them. We’ll be posting a new installment of “Objectify Me” every week.]
When I first saw this object as an industrial design student, it made me realize what great industrial design was all about. It’s the Valentine typewriter by the late Ettore Sottsass, designed back in the 1960s for Olivetti. Sottsass took a very mundane, ordinary object, and thought, “What could it be like if it’s not about business anymore, if it’s not about the typing pool, if it’s an object people might have in their homes?”
With this incredibly simple, elegant design, and this absolutely outrageous color, he took a product that’s still serious (it works very well as a typewriter) but he made it human in a completely surprising way. I think even today, even though we’re not using typewriters anymore, it’s still a great piece of product design.
I keep it in my office as a reminder that great design can be simple, it doesn’t always have to be a really complicated idea.
– Tim Brown
Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO, an innovation and design firm with headquarters in Palo Alto, California. His designs have won numerous awards and been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Axis Gallery in Tokyo, and the Design Museum London.