Gio Ponti

ITALY (1891–1979)
In a career that spanned 60 years, Gio Ponti – architect, designer, journalist, teacher, painter and poet – showed that factory-made goods could pulse with personality and proved that art and industry could coexist.

Ponti produced startling work at every scale, from household objects to large buildings. As the young artistic director at the Manifattura Ceramica Richard-Ginori in Milan, he applied neoclassical motifs to ceramic bowls and plates, creating a fresh look in everyday objects. As founder and longtime editor of Domus magazine, he encouraged the overlap of art and architecture. And as an architect, he built “typical houses” that looked fairly conventional on the outside but were inventive on the inside, with flexible spaces and modular furniture.

“Industry is the style of the 20th century, its mode of creation,” said Ponti. In the 1930s he celebrated modern industry with large architecture projects such as the Mathematics Department at Rome University and the Milan headquarters of Montecatini. In the 1940s he designed numerous pieces of Murano glass, created stage sets and costumes for La Scala in Milan and developed the La Pavoni coffee machine. His 1953 Distex Armchair and 1957 Superleggera Chair became classics of the period. And in 1956, he designed the Pirelli Tower, a love song to the future.

Throughout his designs and his writings, Ponti shared infectious enthusiasm for the possibilities of architecture. “Love architecture,” he wrote in In Praise of Architecture. “Love it for its fantastic, adventurous and solemn creations; for its inventions; for the abstract, allusive and figurative forms that enchant our spirits and enrapture our thoughts. Love architecture, the stage and support of our lives.”
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