Adriano Olivetti: Life of an innovator

A shroud and halo of myth surround the figure of Adriano Olivetti.

He was one of the most prominent figures in the Italian cultural and industrial panorama, reserved for the stories of excellence.

An entrepreneur, a man of culture, patron, politician, social reformist, and innovator, saw the future and transformed his ideas into reality.

Olivetti introduced new organizational methods, and humanistic idealism fueled his entrepreneurial life by implementing dramatic changes in Italian business and industrial relations.

But what makes him an icon to follow and admire still today?

Read our blog below to find out, then!


Who was Adriano Olivetti?

Born in 1901, Adriano Olivetti was a hard-working and curious student. He started in the typewriters factory owned by his father.

After traveling to the United States, he adopted and implemented new ideas in managing the family business.

His only scope was the modernization of production and innovative products’ manufacturing.

You should not think that he wanted to implement these changes for the sake of profit only, however.

Olivetti’s managerial push was to create products tailored for a changing society, Italy, in the 1950s.

Indeed, those years’ Italian economic boom required structural changes in industrial architecture.

Applying those changes meant catching up with broader societal transformations such as consumerism and technological advancement.

Historians agree that his business model favored the Italian industrial system’s adaptation for peacetime needs.

But how this period impacted the operativity of the Olivetti business?

Years of economic expansion consecrated the Olivetti company as a true and innovative technological brand both in Italy and abroad.

The Olivetti then produced the machine Lexikon 80, the calculator Divisumma 24, and the well-known portable typewriter Lettera 22.

Entrepreneurial and industrial successes were not the only focus of Adriano Olivetti.

Intellectual activity and the study of politics and society and its applications characterized Olivetti at the time.


His Innovative stance

First and foremost, Adriano Olivetti was the open space store’s pioneer.

In 1954, he contacted architects and designers Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, and Ernesto Rogers. He commissioned them a store at the 584 of Fifth Avenue, New York.

However, he dictated that what he wanted was not just a store. He wanted an architectural space made of vision, intuition, and design.

Beauty and technology merged in this project, then.

He did not live long enough to witness Olivetti’s international successes, the P-101, the first desktop computer. You can read our dedicated blog on it here.


Conclusion: Adriano Olivetti

Adriano Olivetti had a sparkling personality that did not wish to produce technology and shape the future.

Olivetti suddenly died traveling on a train in 1960. His legacy is his company which he left behind.

Today Olivetti employs hundreds and is an abroad-orientated and international business.

Adriano leaves behind a certain idea of culture and progress – both industrial and social.

What could we learn from this story?

What characterized most his carrier was a passion and a desire for knowledge. He focused mostly on bettering products to meet the needs of people.


You could read more about his story at the Adriano Olivetti Foundation website here.