Sexy Valentine

One of the objects presented in the new Sottsass exhibition at Met Breuer, a small, red, jeweled object of an enormous impact, that was considered by the late designer as a mark of the turning point in his career, and I am talking about the Valentine portable typewriter. An icon of sixties design, it is remembered from the ad by American graphic designer Milton Glaser who used a detail of Piero di Cosimo’s painting ‘Satyr Mourning over Nymph,’ inserting the Valentine into a r\Renaissance landscape next to a dog, suggesting the two as man’s best friend. It also remembered from the the famed photo of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor arriving at Heathrow Airport in 1970, it captures much of Sottsass’ vision and innovation. It is colorful, sexy, and as glamour as the movie stars carrying it, as the stylish poets that the designed envisioned when creating the typewriter. Immediately after Sottsass designed it in 1969 with British designer Perry King for Italian firm Olivetti, it had become a global immediate sensation. And while it is a part of types of consumer goods long passed from the world — ashtrays, dressing tables, makeup cases, brooches — it is still as intriguing as it was when first introduced. The Valentine was to the 70s what the iPhone was to the 2000s, and it was a symbol of Pop Culture and of the Postmodernist movement. It manifests the notion that design should not focus only on functionalism, but that it should rather contain other emotional values and sensual qualities. Originally came in a variety of colors, it was red which has become the most memorable, the most iconic, despite the fact that the Valentine had never appealed to the mass market because of its unaffordable tag price.