Monday, May 1, 2017

Legends of Design: Gio Ponti

In every industry, in every arena, there are legends who have come before and if one wishes to know as much as one can about a chosen subject, it is good to take a look at those legends and see what they contributed to where we are now.

One of those giants of design is Italian designer Gio Ponti who created a slew of Modernist masterpieces. While primarily an architect (in 1950 he designed the infulential The Pirelli Tower in Milan, and the northern extension of the Denver Art Museum in 1971), he also worked in ceramic and glass and designed flatware, furniture, lighting, and decorative objects over a long and spectacularly prolific career which included founding and editing the famous interior design magazines Domus (from its inception in 1928 to 1941 and then from 1948 to his death in 1979), and Stile from 1942 to 1947.

A magnanimous, larger-than-life personality who was a great lover of art, Ponti believed in the marriage of the practical and the beautiful. Arguably, his most famous creation is the Superleggera or Super Light Chair. In 1957, he created a chair out of lightweight materials and the advertisements of the day showed a young boy lifting it with a single finger. The chair has been re-issued by Cassina and is available for purchase now.

He also designed the Distex chair and its descendant, a lounge chair with open sides and stiletto legs for Molteni.

And it is easy to see why this Ponti chair was christened the 969 Chair when you see the undulating back rest.

Ponti worked with glass blowers in Venice to create the iconic and often-imitated Modernist Murano chandelier.

Other lighting designs include the Bilia light, a cone with a lighted ball perched on top, the very Modernist 0024XXL hanging lamp featuring stacks of glass discs, and the Fato lamp which can be used as a table lamp or as a wall sconce!

Here is a sideboard and cocktail table for Molteni...

...and this stunning tripod, oval cocktail table with a cut-out hole.

And finally, take a look at some of his decorative objects:

But in Italy, he will forever be known for his redesign of a staple of daily Italian life, the espresso machine. Ponti designed La Cornuta for Pavoni in 1948.

Happy Modernist designing!

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