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Randolfo Asti - From our own archive, a photo montage study intended for Olivetti.

Randolfo Asti – From our own archive, a photo montage study intended for Olivetti.

We do not know much about the business or private life of this very innovative graphic designer other than he was born in Milan, Italy around 1912. His father Alfonso Asti owned a well known typesetting company there and was one of the early photo montage and printing plate producers. This early exposure must have given the young artist some great artistic impulses for we find him collaborating on designing at least one cover for CAMPO GRAFICO the avant garde graphic magazine started in 1933 by a group of young artists who deprived of the necessary financial means had to print the magazine on Saturdays in their spare time.

Each cover and every lay out of each issue of this great graphic arts magazine was different. A total of 66 issues were published and the magazine lasted until 1939.  Perhaps a better known painter and artist was Luigi Veronesi who extensively collaborated on the magazine. We know, for a while, Asti worked for the well known art director and major graphic design studio of the architect Ernesto Carboni, before taking over his father’s printing company in the 1940’s.

Olivetti was the foremost company in Italy, in its heyday from about 1930 through 1980, making a total design oriented commitment from innovative product and factory design to graphic design. The products, not unlike the Ferrari cars, are in the most important museum and private design collections in the world. Unfortunately, the success lasted only two generations and after 1980’s when “industrial financiers” took possession of the company a rapid decline set in. Unforeseen new business developments pummeled the company into quick oblivion. A design commitment is not an automatic guarantee for a successful continuation of a modern enterprise. Here are some of the better known Olivetti products throughout the years.

OLIVETTI 1949

OLIVETTI 1950

OLIVETTI 1956

OLIVETTI 1969

OLIVETTI 1970

OLIVETTI 1973

We have seen other scarce work by Asti over the years, like the printing proof for an international ski event illustrated below, which has a decidedly modernist, almost futuristic approach to design.

Asti must have known also some of the artists working at the new Advertising Agency Boggeri in Milan, Italy where he would have had the opportunity to view work done by Xanty Schawinsky for Olivetti. His graphic design study could actually predate the Schawinsky famous poster from 1935 for Olivetti illustrating the Studio Forty Two Typewriter which he designed after collaborating on its design.

You can go to this website for more information on Schawinsky.

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