Salotto Dinamico: THE WALKING OFFICE, 1985


Firenze, Italy
Alchimia - Memorie e Luoghi del XX Secolo

In stock

Firenze: Alchimia – Memorie e Luoghi del XX Secolo, 1985 (06), 57×42,5 cm. Poster cum oversized prospectus for the pioneering project “The Walking Office” by the group “Salotto Dinamico” – Vincenzo Iavicoli, Maria Luisa Rossi, Maurizio Pettini, Letizia Schettini – published in conjunction with a presentation / exhibition of it at Alessandro Mendini’s gallery ‘Alchimia-Memorie e Luoghi del XX Secolo’. Printed on both sides and folded as issued (?). One side features a wonderful ‘unapologetically cyberpunk-chic’ publicity shot like a Vogue cover from a parallel dimension while on the back information about the group and the prototype is printed along with a text by Luccio Passetto. The project has plunged into obscurity, with only one prototype model realized – now in the collection of Henry Ford Museum – while material pertaining to this modern tech artifact is virtually non-existent. A true missing link in the evolution of technology, work culture and the vision of self in the ever-connected society.

A fine Cyberpunk example par excellence, part William Gibson part Pippa Garner. Extravagant concept from the mid-80s eerily prophetical in the field of when and how work is executed – moving towards a 24h, wearable, no-limits production cycle that infused every and all aspects of life during the last decade. The Walking Office, made of polished chrome, was pitched as a ‘techno-human’ object, doubling also as personal adornment.


While all five members of the group had input in the project, Vincenzo Iavicoli submitted the concept as his 1983 undergraduate Industrial Design thesis at the ISIA school in Florence, Italy (under the guidance of his mentor, Paolo Bettini). The designers entered a physical model of the ideas in Iavicoli’s thesis in the 1985 Mainichi International Industrial Design Competition in Tokyo, Japan. The Walking Office won the top prize in the “Harmonization of Office Automation and Environment” category (…)
The Walking Office model is made of polished chrome. Two pieces fit together to form a keyboard, the display arch fits into the keyboard to serve as a display, and a cassette recorder links up with an acoustic coupler modem to record and transmit data through any available telephone line. The Walking Office also doubles as personal adornment, with the keyboard pieces worn on the shoulder and the display arch as a headpiece (looking much like a mohawk). It combines the expressive aesthetic detail of 1980s Italian design with provocative high-tech materials to create an unapologetically cyberpunk-chic device. The Walking Office was not meant to be concealed (comparisons might be drawn between it and the Google Glass Explorer program of recent years) (…) The designers of the Walking Office explored negative and positive elements of its proposed function. On one hand, they described it as “an Orwellian omen condemning portable work” (anticipating the desire of today’s knowledge workers to “unplug” themselves from the distractions of always-on technology.) A more positive spin situated the Walking Office as a route to freedom that would allow people to embrace the “amoral and amusing” aspects of creative work. They imagined “electronic machines coming out of the office, conquering urban space, dwellings, golf courses, bars and beaches, becoming natural body accessories.”
Kristen Gallerneaux, Henry Ford Museum

condition: VG+