I have known other former employees of Adriano Olivetti and all of them have sung their praises of him but, in Trani, (Natale) Natalino Pagano has gone further to realize the dream of Adriano. A true master needs disciples who perpetuate his teachings making them alive and present, making them come out from the pages of history.
Cavaliere Natale Pagano is a businessman from Puglia and his company SECA has created office solutions for common business areas for over thirty years. His enterprising spirit is manifested early and before the age of eighteen he had opened a radio and a local newspaper. Immediately after he left school and travelled to the North to “learn a craftwork”. He arrived in the technical department of Olivetti, where he came to imbue the spirit of Adriano Olivetti.
Olivetti was not only a centre of creativity and industrial production, but it was a social experiment where humanities and technology were melded, where there were no workers, but employees, where human needs went before profit.
Natalino Pagano was a curious young man and began working on typewriters admiring the technological complexity and precision mechanics. He absorbed the spirit that surrounded him; yet his nature is to create something new and, against the current. He decided to return to Trani and establish a new company to repair typewriters. Nevertheless, when he talks about Olivetti he does so in the first person, still being involved with the spirit of this enterprise.
“The first machine of Camillo Olivetti M1 consisted of about 6000 pieces, its evolution the M 20, had about half. A masterpiece of engineering. A typewriter is beautiful to observe, study and listen when it works. It was a personal pleasure to touch them and put them back into operation”
His company grew, his creativity led him to add services and move to the next sector of furniture for offices and then to set up museums, conference rooms and business centres. Meanwhile, every time someone threw him an old typewriter, Natalino gathered it in, repaired and prepared it, and put it on display in his home. The collection grew to the point that he decided to set up a space in his business in the workshop room, noting the concerns of his employees who saw their operational areas reduced. They knew that Natalino Pagano loves his job and considers them his family, but they did not immediately share his passion for collecting typewriters.
The spirit of the collector started to take over and, after the collection of all the machines Olivetti, Natalino challenged himself to find from around the world all “first samples” of key US and the German companies designing and producing typewriters.
“I am an entrepreneur and also when I have a dream I try to create for myself intermediate objectives and the final goal, that of the museum. Mine is a lucid madness that I share with Isabella”
Isabella enters on tiptoe but she is his anchor and she shares all the dreams including the one to donate their collection to a foundation to make it accessible to anyone interested and to put it at the service of the social life of their community of Trani. She is the president of the foundation that runs the Museum SECA.
The SECA Foundation and the Museum of Typewriters
SECA acronym is intertwined in the life of Natalino Pagano in many ways. He had committed some time ago to create an acronym for his business and “Electronic Services for Corporate Accounting” seemed the right professional balance. But it could not be the name of the Foundation.
SECA now has become “Scripturae Evolutio Cum Art” (The evolution of writing with art) and the foundation created the Museum of Typewriter, and took charge of the Diocesan Museum and the Museum of the Synagogue of St. Anne, in a building in the square opposite the amazing Cathedral of Trani (http://energitismo.com/try-trani-live/). With such a view overlooking the sea to give the feeling of being on a boat.
Even before its opening, word of mouth has reached the major publishers and the president of the Italian Parliament who came to visit Natalino and his museum. But the real magic cannot be described by the long list of machines on display. You may be enthralled by the evolution of the technical engineering, by the ‘quaint reality’ of the immediate connection in design with the world of women, by the smartness of military equipment or by toys for children. You may be amazed in front of a machine with a carriage in reverse for the Arabs and the Jews or attempt to understand the complexity of a Japanese machine. You may be excited in front of one used by Ian Fleming (James Bond) or that of the Nazis. You can contrast the pragmatism of an American machine with the solidity of German ones, and finally by the elegant Italian design. The museum can be understood in many ways, but what is certain is that an aspect of human history can be read in an original way.
I had the good fortune to visit the Museum with Natalino and I was speechless, not so much by the stories he told me about each machine (each was “his favorite”) but by the love he passed on. The love of a child who shares his toys with friends to be happy together and spend “free time”. And the time literally flew!
Beyond typewriter, the spirit of community by Olivetti
Such a museum is expected to attract many journalists and writers. Each one of us ‘mature adults’ who has a passion for writing started on a typewriter and through it found means to discover a part of ourselves. So a museum of typewriters immediately combines technological, entrepreneurial and humanist spirit and lends itself to being a centre of culture in the most beautiful and extended terms.
The first floor of the museum is a place of encounter and creativity to serve the city where already concerts, conferences, meetings with writers and artists are held. We are in the winter, the museum is not yet officially opened but already all kinds of events are happening that transform it into a community centre of Trani. And I use the word community in the profound sense that Adriano Olivetti has given this word and that Natalino Pagano did just by realizing something in the service of his community.
“The Museum is just the beginning of a new journey. I ended my challenge to make one of the most complete collections in the world and now I have to make it alive and beating to share moments of pleasure through culture with my city. Now I have to follow Adriano in his deepest spirit! “