Marcello Nizzoli


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(1887–1969) Most widely known for his designs for office equipment manufacturer Olivetti, Nizzoli was an important figure in Italian design from the 1920s through to the 1960s. He worked in a number of fields including industrial design, graphic design, and architecture. After graduating in 1913 in architecture, painting, and decoration from the Academy of Fine Arts in Parma he exhibited paintings and embroideries at the Nuove tendenze exhibition of 1914. After the war his work in applied arts attracted attention at the 1923 exhibition of decorative arts in Monza, leading to a variety of commissions. From the mid-1920s he became involved with poster design for Bitter and Campari. From the early 1930s he worked with Eduardo Persico on a number of exhibitions and showrooms, including the Parker Showroon in Milan of 1934. In 1938 he was taken on by Adriano Olivetti to work in the company's advertising department. He soon became involved in product design, his first design being the MC 4S Summa calculating machine of 1940, produced in collaboration with an engineer Natale Capellaro, with whom he worked on other calculators including the Divisumma 14 of 1948. In the years immediately following the Second World War Nizzoli found his true métier with classic designs such as the sculptural, clean-formed Lexicon 80 office typewriter (1948, for which he also designed a poster in 1949), the elegant Lettera 22 portable (1950), and the Divisumma 24 calculator (1956). He also designed elegant products with an organic aesthetic for other companies such as Necchi, for whom he designed the Supernova BU and Mirella sewing machines of 1953 and 1957, both of which were awarded the Compasso d'Oro in 1954 and 1957 respectively. Other commissions included cigarette lighters for Ronson (1959) and a cooker and petrol pump for Agip (1960). He was involved with the design of a number of office buildings and housing developments for Olivetti. Amongst many other prizes for his design he was awarded an honorary degree in architecture by Milan Polytechnic in 1966. Many of his products for Olivetti are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

From A Dictionary of Modern Design in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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