70s Style

The A4 Accounting Machine by Mario Bellini is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Mario Bellini's "A4" took off from the space shuttle

(© 2012 Mario Bellini; image courtesy the Museum of Modern Art)

The space shuttle Enterprise was unveiled today, in its new home on the decks of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, a former aircraft carrier moored off Manhattan. In yesterday’s Daily Beast, I claimed that the shuttle’s radical functionalism helps explain much of 1970s design – especially of mass-market products such as the first Walkman and Apple II computer. The one fancy designer who may have gone down the same road is the Italian Mario Bellini – who designed this A4 Programmable Accounting Invoicing Machine for Olivetti in 1973. (It's now in the MoMA collection.) Raymond Guidot, the French design expert, says that Bellini came to Olivetti as "the champion of utter rationalism." Though his earlier works were Braun-slick, without a bump in site, this design seems deliberately clunky, separating out each piece of the machine – keypad, paper support, roller knobs – according to the function it serves. It’s an anti-design design, worthy of a Black and Decker Workmate.

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