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Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti

Born in Milan in 1891, Gio Ponti studied architecture there, but had to interrupt his course to serve in the Italian army during World War I. After the war, he completed his degree but, instead of practicing as an architect, he became the art director of the ceramic manufacturer Richard-Ginori. From 1923 to 1930, he turned the company into a role model of industrial design excellence by decorating simple ceramic forms with elegant neoclassical motifs. “Industry is the style of the 20th century, its mode of creation,” wrote Ponti after winning the Grand Prix at the 1925 Paris Expo.
In 1928, Ponti was convinced by his friend, the Florentine journalist Ugo Ojetti, to found a magazine, Domus, as a vehicle for his beliefs.
During the late 1920s, Ponti returned to architecture by building houses in Milan and Paris, including the “domuses”, his “typical houses” which looked like typical Milanese homes from the outside, but were innovative inside with flexible spaces and modular furniture. By the mid-1930s, he was winning bigger commissions such as the 1934 Mathematics Department at Rome University and 1936 headquarters of Montecatini, which were more overly modernist in style. As an architect, Ponti’s goals were for his buildings to harmonise form with function, and be exemplars of the correct use of materials. Ponti was also reinforcing his role as a propagandist by curating the Biennale della Arti Decorativa – first in Monza, then Milan as the Triennale – which he established as a showcase for the best of Italian design.
During the 1950s, Ponti devoted more time to industrial design. The angular 1953 Distex armchair and 1957 Superleggera chair (inspired by the traditional Chiavari chairs Ponti had seen at the seaside, but so strong and light that a child could lift one up on a single finger) he designed for Cassina swiftly became classics of the period.
Although Ponti remained productive throughout the 1960s and 1970s – notably by building the 1964 San Francesco Church and 1967 San Carlo Chapel in Milan, and the 1972 Denver Art Museum – he was perceived as an architect and designer whose heyday was in the 1940s and 1950s. By the end of his life in the late 1970s, Ponti was too frail even for the short walk from his home to his studio, but carried on firing off dozens of daily letters and swapped the beloved Citroën DS he had driven for years for a 12-seater Fiat minibus in the hope of conversing with friends while travelling around Milan.

Pair of Bergères
Gio Ponti
Circa 1950

Wood, upholstery blu ombra by Rubelli
H100 x L68 x W72 cm

Pair of Armchairs
Att to Gio Ponti
1940

Brass and Upholstery
H90 x L86 x D87 cm

Mod. Distex
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1953

Original fabric by Gio Ponti and walnut
H80 x L109 x D79 cm

Mod. 110
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1950

Vinyl, walnut and brass nail heads
H84,8 x W56,3 x L55 cm

Literature
‘Across the seas collaborations for the new Singer collection’, Interiors, December 1951, p. 127
Gio Ponti, ‘Dalla IX alla X Triennale’, Domus, no. 265, December 1951, p. 12
Gio Ponti, ed., ‘Studio legale a Milano’, Domus, no. 286, September 1953, p. 34
Marco Romanelli, ed., Gio Ponti: A World, exh. cat., Design Museum, London, 2002, p. 90

Stools
Gio Ponti
Circa 1950

Wood and velvet
H55 x W45 x L45 cm

Literature
Certificate from the Gio Ponti archives

Low table 1
Gio Ponti
1960

Steel and wood-wood painted
H39 x L58 cm

Literature
Fabio Fioroni, Alessandra Tavella, 1 x – Gio Ponti in Paris. Arredi di design 1930 – 1970, 2012, pag. 56

Low table 2
Gio Ponti
1960

Steel and wood-wood painted
130 cm diam

Dining Table for Singer & Sons
Gio Ponti
1950s

walnut and brass
H74 x 102 diam cm closed
H74 x 274 diam cm open

Wedge
Gio Ponti
1955
Designed for the National showroom and Manufactured by Ambrosini, Italy
Painted lamineted plywood, brass, painted metal.

H 83 x L 51 x W 60 Cm

Literature
U. La Pietra – “Gio Ponti, l’Arte si innamora dell’Architettura” p. 240
“Un negozio a Milano”, Domus n. 309, August 1955, p. 24,26

Wedge
Gio Ponti
Designed in 1947 executed in 1950
Designed for the National showroom and Manufactured by Ambrosini, Italy
Mahogany, mahogany-veneered wood and brass
H90,3 x L117,5 x W41,5 cm

Literature
Giuseppe Furlanis, Eugenio Porro, Alfio Terraneo, Esperienze di design in Cantú,
Cantú, 1986, fig. 8, for an image, fig. 13 for a drawing of a similar example

Small Desk
Gio Ponti
Walnut and formica
H69 x L90 x W46 cm
Mod 2140
Gio Ponti
1949

Walnut, lacquered walnut and brass
H204 x L172,7 x W48,2 cm

Mod. 2129
Gio Ponti
Produced by Singer&Sons

1950

Italian Walnut
L120 x H93 x W50 cm

Mod. 2161
Gio Ponti
Produced by Singer&Sons

1950

Italian Walnut
L183,5 x H93 x W50 cm

Mirror
Gio Ponti
Produced by Fontana Arte

Circa 1950

Brass frame mirror designed for the interiors of the bristol Hotel
H90 x L63 cm

Mod Leggera
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1953

Wood and upholstery
H83 x W37,5 x L42 cm

Mod Leggera
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1953

Wood and straw
H83 x W37,5 x L42 cm

Mod Leggera
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1953

Wood and fabric
H83 x W37,5 x L42 cm

Mod Leggera
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

1953

Wood and fabric
H83 x W37,5 x L42 cm

Mod. Ninfea
Gio Ponti
Produced by Filii Reguitti, Agnosine

1958

Beech wood, yellow/brown fabric
H. 71,5 x 48,5 x 76 cm

Literature
Il mobile italiano degli anni ’40 e ’50, S. 46

Mod. 575
Gio Ponti
Produced by Lumi

Brass and lacquered metal
H40 x L35 cm

Literature
Gio Ponti by Ugo La Pietra, Rizzoli, pag. 344

Mod. 2474
Gio Ponti
Produced by Fontana Arte

1960

Painted aluminium, opaque glass
H44 cm

Pair of bergeres
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina
1950 ca

lacquered wood and upholstery
H111 x L69,5 x W70 cm

Bibliography
Andrea Branzi, Michele de Lucchi, Il design italiano degli anni’50, RDE,
1985, p.107

PRINT INFO
Mod.116
Gio Ponti
Produced by Cassina

Ca 1951-55

Reupholstery in brown velvet, walnut
H 84x W 44xD 46 cm

Literature
Gio Ponti, L’arte si innamora dell’industria, by Ugo La Pietra, p.204