These vintage typewriter ads for Olivetti (shown above)  just blow me away. They are such lovely, illustrated compositions, so different from the full page photo + headline ads of today. Italians certainly know how to design beautiful things, in this case not only the machine but also the ads for it. Illustration is becoming a lost art.

Something I like especially about the Olivetti ads is the focus on the typewriter itself and its functions as art. Showcasing industrial design in this way was unusual. An added bonus is this approach kept the ads from becoming dated in the way so many of its competitors’ ads were, with their appeals to the vanity and simple-mindedness of women.

Of course, this kind of gender bias was par for the cultural course at that time. In the first episode of Mad Men, Joan shows Peggy her desk and remarks that the typewriter looks complicated but that’s it’s so easy a woman can use it. The funny thing is, they have the wrong motivation but the right result — an office machine should, in fact, be designed so that anyone can easily use it.