PRINT November 2013

Josiah McElheny

Carlo Scarpa, Gipsoteca, Museo Canova, 1955–57, Possagno, Italy. Photo: Peter Guthrie/Flickr.

IN 2011, a modest space in Venice designed by the celebrated architect Carlo Scarpa was designated a public monument and museum. It was an unlikely candidate for elevation to canonical status: A street-level commercial showroom on San Marco Square, commissioned by the Italian manufacturer Olivetti in 1957, the space was filled with typewriters displayed on an assortment of custom pedestals, stairs, cantilevers, shelves, niches, and floating planes. With its lyrical square window peeking out onto a side street and an elegant storefront, displaying just three perfectly curvilinear machines, the showroom is not centered around the organization of space but on the human-scale objects contained therein.

Few architects of the postwar period were interested in small-scale ideas; at most, they designed furniture as accents to their spaces. But from his extensive work with the Venini glass

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