Adriano Olivetti

A twentieth-century entrepreneur and innovator

Ritratto di Adriano Olivetti da bambinoFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Adriano Olivetti was born in Ivrea on 11th April 1901, the second child of Camillo Olivetti and Luisa Olivetti Revel.

Luisa Revel con i primi cinque figli avuti da Camillo Olivetti. Adriano è in piedi a destra. (1908)Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Adriano was born after Elena (1900) and before Massimo (1902), Silvia (1904), Lalla (1907) and Dino (1912), who was still to be born when this picture was taken.

Interno fabbrica Olivetti. (1914)Fondazione Adriano Olivetti


Adriano Olivetti in divisa da alpino.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Having graduated from the Physics and Mathematics Department of the Technical Institute of Cuneo, he volunteered for the 4th Alpine Regiment in April 1918.

Ritratto di famiglia nel bosco della casa di Ivrea. (1920)Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

"His father, Camillo, was a brilliant man who combined the most daring of imaginations, the perfect technique of a great administrator, and an even bigger heart. The fact that a factory that is now a symbol of industrial civilisation around the globe was built in Ivrea and not elsewhere is due not so much to particular environmental conditions as to the genius of Camillo Olivetti."

Giuseppe Saragat, Memories of Adriano Olivetti.

Camillo Olivetti in gita. (1920)Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

"Canavese is my little homeland. The straight line of the Serra, the restless course of the Dora, the background scenery with the beloved mountains of the Val d'Aosta."  Adriano Olivetti  

Ritratto di Adriano OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

After graduating from the Polytechnic University of Turin with a degree in Industrial Chemical Engineering, he began his apprenticeship in 1924 as a worker at the typewriter factory founded by his father Camillo in 1908 in Ivrea.

Tragitto del viaggio in America di Adriano OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

In 1925, he took his first trip to the United States. In almost six months, he visited 105 factories and brought back around 50 books on the scientific organisation of labour.

Adriano Olivetti con la moglie Paola Levi.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

In May 1927, Adriano married Paola Levi. Their marriage would produce two children, Roberto and Lidia.

Pimo ampliamento Officine ICOFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Adriano put forward an ambitious and innovative plan to modernise Olivetti's business to his father Camillo.

Centro di formazione meccaniciFondazione Adriano Olivetti

From the 1930s onwards, he began reorganising the company from both a manufacturing and a commercial standpoint.

Copertina libro Ordine politico delle ComunitàFondazione Adriano Olivetti

The war forced him to go into exile in Switzerland, where he penned a reform plan in which he outlined the ideas that formed the basis of the Community Movement founded by Adriano in 1947.

Copertina del primo numero della rivista «Comunità».Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Through the magazine Comunità (Community), which he founded in 1946, Adriano was able to spread the word about international culture in a way that was unprecedented in post-war Italy.

Adriano Olivetti durante un comizio del Movimento Comunità.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Although its political efforts saw it gain only one seat in Parliament in 1958, the Community Movement was an example of participatory democracy whose process far outstripped its results.

Adriano Olivetti con l'architetto finlandese Alvar Aalto.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Adriano Olivetti's work was at its most experimental in its architecture and urban planning, and this forms the unique physical legacy left behind today, not only in Ivrea but also in Matera and Pozzuoli.

Adriano Olivetti ritira il Premio Compasso d'Oro.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

Adriano steered Olivetti towards the goals of technological excellence, innovation and an openness to international markets, with a particular focus on industrial design.

adriano e roberto ritaglioFondazione Adriano Olivetti

He was responsible for the first research into electronics in the Fifties, which would eventually lead to the first PC, the P101, launched on the market in 1965 by his son Roberto.

Mappa della città industriale di IvreaFondazione Adriano Olivetti

His commitment to establishing "a new world" was represented by the city of Ivrea, where Adriano was free to govern economic, social, cultural and town planning policies independently.

Vista aerea di Corso JervisOriginal Source: Immagine tratta dal Dossier di Candidatura di "Ivrea Città Industriale del XX secolo" nella World Heritage List UNESCO

Ivrea thus became the model for a twentieth-century industrial city and was recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site on 1st July 2018.

Copertina libro Città dell'uomoFondazione Adriano Olivetti

Entrepreneur, architect, town planner, publisher, politician, sociologist, writer, innovator: Adriano Olivetti was one of the brightest lights of the last century.

Adriano Olivetti con la moglie Grazia a News York.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti

In New York with his wife Grazia Galletti in the mid-1950s.

Adriano Olivetti con la figlia LauraFondazione Adriano Olivetti

With his youngest daughter Laura at his home, Villa Belli Boschi in Ivrea, in 1959.

I funerali di Adriano Olivetti.Fondazione Adriano Olivetti


When he passed away suddenly in 1960, he left behind a company present on all major international markets with around 36,000 employees (more than half based overseas) and an enormously complex cultural, social and political project in which factory and local area are inextricably integrated as part of a harmonious community plan.

Adriano OlivettiFondazione Adriano Olivetti

"Adriano Olivetti embodied the Aristotelian concept of the "generous man": a man who lived according to an ideal of greatness and fulfilled this ideal to the utmost." Lewis Mumford                                                            

Credits: Story

a cura di Francesca Limana

La mostra è stata realizzata grazie alla collaborazione di:

Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti, Ivrea
Fondazione Natale Capellaro, Ivrea
Museo Laboratorio Tecnologic@mente, Ivrea

Le citazioni in mostra sono tratte da:
Valerio Ochetto, "La biografia", Edizioni di Comunità 2013
AA.VV., In ricordo di Adriano Olivetti, Edizioni di comunità, 1960

L'archivio di Adriano Olivetti, suddiviso in diversi Fondi, è depositato dalla Fondazione Adriano Olivetti presso l’Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti di Ivrea. La biblioteca personale si trova invece presso la sede di Roma della Fondazione.

Tutti gli scritti di Adriano Olivetti sono pubblicati dalle Edizioni di Comunità.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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