Corporate culture – Olivetti: the factory of images

The video of the Art Conversation dedicated to Corporate Culture, part of a series of meetings hosted by Fondazione Luigi Rovati and curated by Johan & Levi Editore publishing house, is now available.

Cultural historian Alberto Saibene with Giorgio Bigatti, professor of Economic History at Bocconi University, and Andrea Pinotti, professor of Aesthetics at the University of Milan, traced the biography of Adriano Olivetti and the role of figurative art in his business vision.




In the postwar period, the Ivrea factory is a laboratory of ideas with economic, social and cultural aims that place human life at the center. The buildings around Via Jervis are places where engineering culture dialogues with humanistic culture, industry with art, technological values with aesthetic ones. A conception that gives rise to a vast number of proposals aimed at improving the living conditions of workers, but also at enriching the spiritual existence of the community through beauty and harmony.

Visual art occupied a prominent place in Olivetti's project through striking initiatives, such as the organization of exhibitions and interventions in support of art and publishing activities aimed at broadening its dissemination even among an unfamiliar public. To put his humanistic ideal into practice, Olivetti was able to gather around him intellectuals of great depth. An essential figure was Giorgio Soavi (1923-2008), a man of letters, novelist, essayist, poet, critic, journalist, photographer and collector whose birth centenary falls this year. Responsible since the late 1950s for Olivetti's Special Projects Office, he crossed paths with the greatest artists of the 20th century thanks mainly to his role as a discoverer of talent, inventor of the famous Olivetti diaries, and creator of refined art books. These unrepeatable encounters are recounted in unmistakable style in the book The Picture I Miss, which has been out of print for years and is now reissued by Johan & Levi with a preface by Andrea Pinotti.



Gae Aulenti and Giorgio Soavi in the Olivetti store in Paris (1967). Photo Association Olivetti Historical Archives - RM Photography