When is a typewriter store a work of art?

Ah, but it’s not really a store, and it’s not just any typewriter. It’s the Negozio Olivetti — and a pièce de resistance of architect Carlo Scarpa.

This is the first article by a new contributor, Gioia Tiozzo. Gioia is a journalist, born in Venice and still living here. She’s interested in communication and the Internet, and would like others to know her city better; to that end she has established the web site 100x100venezia.it (in Italian for now, but scan her daily photo blog). Gioia is also interested in the concept of Venice as a water city, and given that water is an indispensable element of life, how important it is to have great respect for it.

Gioia will be submitting articles of interest from time to time, with me translating them. When I received this first one on the recently-restored Negozio Olivetti, I ran right out and shot the photos. Welcome, Gioia!

_________

After years of closure and a 12-month restoration, the magnificent showplace for historic Olivetti office machines has returned to take its rightful place on the Piazza.

Designed by renowned architect Carlo Scarpa (who also is responsible for the impeccable renovation in the basement of the Querini Stampalia), the Negozio is considered a masterpiece of modern art. Conceived in the ‘60s, it has never been a point of sale of typewriters and calculators, but rather the prestigious company’s elegant exhibition hall overlooking one of most beautiful and famous squares in the world. Closed in 1997, the following year Negozio sold tourist paraphernalia. But the restoration in 2010 supervised by the Superintendence for Architectural Heritage has restored all the property’s complex beauty, making it once again available for all to enjoy.

Negozio Olivetti’s story began in 1958 when captain of industry Adriano Olivetti asked Scarpa, one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century, to create a space that would represent the Olivetti company and their products. The result is a space of linear perfection where light and elegance interact flawlessly. Marble, mosaic tiles, glass, water and wood are integrated so seamlessly that the entire space becomes a work of art in and of itself. The marble staircase that leads from the ground to the upper floor is today considered a symbol of Scarpa’s modern art; the colored glass mosaic floor a gesture of his abiding affection for  the city. Reflections and transparencies create a sense of incredible volume to this long, narrow space just over 20 meters long and 5 meters wide.

 

With the desire to open an exhibition venue in Venice, Adriano Olivetti was pioneering the idea of partnering art with industry, and therefore with sustainability. An art patron who called on Scarpa to embark on an artistic adventure managed to create what is today considered an important work of modern art. The idea of being an entrepreneur and investing in works of architecture able to leave a distinctive mark over time, was one of the elements that distinguished Adriano Olivetti.

The Negozio Olivetti is on the “Quadri” side of the Piazza San Marco, toward the Correr.

Open Tue – Sun, 10-19 (Apr – Oct), 10-17 (Nov – Mar)
€5 entrance fee (full price)

Audio tours are available in Italian only at the time of this writing
negoziolivetti.it (in Italian)

The property is owned by Assicurazioni Generali and has been loaned to the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano, Italian Environmental Fund), who manages it through volunteer participation.

 

 

13 Responses to When is a typewriter store a work of art?
  1. David Hackett
    May 2, 2011 | 10:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this article in English. What a beautiful space. I was last in Venice in May-June of last year doing graphic design and print workshops and I miss it almost daily! Thank you for taking me back through your blog.

    -David in San Francisco, CA

    • Living Venice
      May 5, 2011 | 11:13 pm

      Thank you for taking an interest. It’s very much appreciated.

  2. Murissa Maurice
    May 3, 2011 | 10:23 pm

    what an interesting blog!
    I am looking forward to following your blog through the year. I stayed in Venice for about 2 weeks total last summer and it is by far my favourite city in Italy. It is so surreal so I am really interested to see how it is for a person living there experiencing the Venetian way of life throughout the year and the seasons.

    The Wanderfull Traveler

    • Living Venice
      May 5, 2011 | 11:14 pm

      Hard to pick a favorite city in Italy, isn’t it? Glad you found the blog…stop back again. 🙂

  3. JoAnn Locktov
    May 4, 2011 | 3:27 pm

    There are those of us that have been waiting with baited breath for the restoration to be complete. Thank you for this marvelous article and photos. I cannot wait to see the gallery for myself when I’m in Venice again. Bevenuta Gioia, ben fatto!

    • Living Venice
      May 5, 2011 | 11:15 pm

      You will love it, Jo…hurry back!

  4. Eric Engstrom
    May 5, 2011 | 1:27 am

    I first saw the Olivetti showroom in a book on Scarpa, and vowed I would see it – it seemed an elegant, pristine, and thoroughly modern collection of unusual spaces unified by the 20th century’s master interior architect. When visiting in 1996 it was still quite intact, but when JoAnn Locktov and I visited in 2006 it was thoroughly trashed. We heard the news that it was to be restored by the City of Venice, but I had my doubts. Now I’m encouraged to visit Venice again to wander through and revel in its beauty. Complimenti, Venezia!

    • Living Venice
      May 5, 2011 | 11:17 pm

      Complementi, indeed! Such a gift to the city and the Piazza. Signore Scarpa is perhaps (finally) resting easier…

  5. Living Venice
    May 5, 2011 | 11:32 pm

    Did I miss someone’s comments? There were some problems with the moderation process for a bit there — that’s why some comments were delayed in appearing. You don’t see yours — would you please write again?

    Grazie.

  6. michael p. johnson
    June 6, 2011 | 6:06 pm

    the next on the list should be the murer/scarpa sculpture. bravo for the olivetti showroom

  7. Susan Van Allen
    June 7, 2011 | 8:43 pm

    Grazie for the beautiful post! I must get there soon–AND it makes this writer a bit nostalgic for the clickety clack of a typewriter…

    • Living Venice
      June 7, 2011 | 9:10 pm

      Oh how true…

  8. ron howell
    June 29, 2011 | 2:51 pm

    hi! This is a wonderful wonderful restoration! grazie mille FAI! A MUST SEE in Venezia – particularly after the years and years when it was filled with the Dali rubbish!

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