This article was originally published in Domus 92 / August 1935
A shop in Turin
Shop interiors play quite a significant part in the development of new architecture. Le Printemps in the past and today the Tannhauser Gallery and La Plaque Tournante are, perhaps, more telling than more demanding projects.
In a shop, more so than in a house or monumental building, architects can apply the stylistic resources that symbolise an era and which the public prefers in things less solemn and less bound to traditional values.
So, Le Printemps can tell us all about fin de siècle taste and La Plaque Tournante about that of the times of Cocteau and Morand. By illustrating the Olivetti shop in Turin, we are not simply highlighting a work of outstanding aesthetic merit but also providing a term of comparison on what we mean when we speak of "modern" taste.
The work was done by a decorator, a Bauhaus student called Xanti Schawinsky, who condensed the finest and most significant elements of European Rationalism in his work. Only very rarely, especially in Italy, have we seen a similar work in which the purity of design, the appropriate use of materials and the balanced forms surpass the genre of the project to become worthy of consideration as a work of art.
The shop's style is that of the Sachlichkeit, the highest concept of pure form, to which its creator has managed to give a vivid sense of "magic reality" — like a Breuer or a Lissitzky.
The mechanisms devised to turn this shop into a perfect "selling machine" need no comment, so appropriate and in keeping with a clear psychological intuition do they seem to us. We are happy to bring this shop to our readers' attention so that people with good taste may have further proof of the amazing potential of the new taste and those operating in the sector an example of the dignity that must go into such a work, which requires the style of the artist and not the common practice of the everyday decorator.