ponti was an architect, industrial designer, craftsman, poet, painter, journalist... here his biography ...............................................................................

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gio ponti / biography

gio ponti was born in 1891 in milan,
he spends his childhood there and enrols for an architecture
degree at the politecnico.
1921 he graduates, having interrupted his studies during
world war I.
richard ginori
in 1923 instead of practising as an architect, ponti becomes
artistic director of richard-ginori, the ceramics manufacturer
for which he wins the 'grand prix' at the 1925 paris expo.
from 1923 to 1930, he turnes the company into a role model
of industrial design excellence by decorating simple ceramic
forms with elegant neo-classical motifs.
'industry is the style of the 20th century, its mode of creation,'
are ponti's words.
1928 ponti founds 'domus', which he establishes as europe's
most influential architecture and design magazine.
in 1941 gio ponti quits 'domus' to found 'stile', an italian art
and architecture magazine.
in 1947 ponti leaves 'stile' to resume the editorship of 'domus'.
ponti insisted that decoration and modern ideas were
not incompatible. his ideas about blending the old
and the new did have supporters
- among them the fascists of the 1930s.
mussolini and his ministers were enthusiastic about
all things new, especially if they preserved cultural
identity, and ponti's writings on the Italianness of
his homes was music to their ears.
publication of 'amate l'architettura', a new version of
a book of essays which orginated in ponti's 1940
pamphlet, 'architecture is a crystal'.
exhibitions and stage design
in 1933 ponti organises the 5th triennale exhibition
(originally in monza) in milan.
his work extends to stage sets and costumes for the opera
house 'la scala' in milan.
he was actively involved in the industrial design association
(ADI) and was one of the organizers of the golden compass
promoted by la rinascente department store.
from 1936 to 1961 he was professor on the permanent
staff of the faculty of architecture at the milan polytechnic.
honors and awards
he received (1934) the title of commander of the royal vasa order
in stockholm, the art prize of the accademia d'italia,
an honorary doctorate from the royal college of art in london,
and a gold medal from the académie d'architecture in paris.
ponti disregarded conventional boundaries and explored
a profound analogy between different fields of art and design,
ranging from the minor arts and furniture to overarching
architectural schemes.
in 1946 he starts a three year project to design murano
glassware for venini.
see the venini monography by designboom
1948 he unveils the la pavoni coffee machine.
begins a four year commission to restore four italian cruise
liners with nino zoncada.
his naval furnishings are particularly interesting
(conte grande, andrea doria, giulio cesare).
during the 1950's his work became even more innovative.
examples include the so-called 'typical solutions',
the 'organized walls', the 'furnished windows',
the 'instrumental head board', the 'miniambiental lodging'...
in 1953 he launches the series 'P' sanitaryware for ideal
standard and the angular 'distex' armchair for cassina.
1957 design of superleggera chair for cassina,
a lighter version of 1955's leggera chair
(inspired by the traditional chiavari chairs) .
in the 1950's he collaborates with fornasetti on interiors
and furniture design.
ponti also collaborated with the italian decorator (renowned
for his surreal, neo-classical style) on the interiors of the
casino at san remo
- which they decorated with enormous playing car motifs -
and the vembi-burroughs offices in genoa and turin,
- where they emblazoned the furniture with intricate images
of pens, pencils, sheets of paper and early computers -
see the fornasetti monography by designboom
in 1926 he designs his first house on via randaccio in milan.
1934 he completes work on mathematics department at rome
university and in 1936 the construction of the first montecatini
headquarters in milan.
italy was by now rebuilding itself, nowhere more so than
in the bombed out cities of the north - genoa, turin and milan.
1955 completion of villa planchart, or the 'butterfly house',
in caracas.
1956 construction of the pirelli tower in milan.
in 1958 he designed the alitalia offices in new york.
ponti remained productive throughout the 1960s and 1970s -
1960 ponti builds villa nemazee in tehran in the same
'joie de vivre' style as the two caracas houses, villa planchart
and villa arreaza.
in 1964 ponti does the interior design of hotel parco dei
principe in rome and its (recently restored) sister hotel in
in 1964 san francesco church and 1967 san carlo chapel
in milan, in 1970 the construction of taranto cathedral
and in 1972 the denver art museum.
1979 gio ponti dies in milan.

see also

theyoung gio ponti
© gio ponti archives/ s. licitra, milan
courtesy design museum, london

the elder gio ponti
© gio ponti archives/ s. licitra, milan
courtesy design museum, london

gio ponti's signature

'andrea doria', 1951

see gio ponti:




pirelli tower



with fornasetti

for venini


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