GIO PONTI (1891 - 1979)
Born in Milan on 18 Novemebr 1891, Gio Ponti is still regarded as Italy’s foremost 20th-century architect, designer and design theorist. Like his super-light Superleggera chair, many of Gio Ponti’s creations remain design legends.
In 1923, not long after graduating in architecture at the age of 30 from Politecnico di Milano University, Gio Ponti advances to the position of artistic director at the Richard Ginori porcelain works, with Ponti working in his spare time to produce his first architecture and design magazine, the Domus. Gio Ponti remains its editor from its first appearance in the late 20s until his death.
A large part of Gio Ponti’s time in the years from 1933 to 1945 are devoted to architecture. Responsible for a wide variety of buildings, Ponti puts his name to Rome University’s Mathematics Faculty and the interior decoration of the Palais Fürstenberg in Vienna. Gio Ponti’s style during this period develops from Novecento – revealing some influences taken from Otto Wagner – more and more towards a sympathy for the emerging Italian rationalist movement.
Gio Ponti’s earliest furniture creations date from the 20s, with Ponti designing pieces for Milan’s La Rinascente Design Supermarket. The early 30s see Gio Ponti working as a designer of lamps and furniture for Fontana Arte.
It is chiefly in the post-war years that Gio Ponti advances the cause of Italian design. His Pavoni espresso coffeemaker of 1948 represents a milestone in Italian design. Nine years later, Gio Ponti creates the 1957 masterpiece which brings him fame – his Superleggera, the super-light filigree chair which to this day is intimately associated with the name Gio Ponti.
The following year sees the construction in the very heart of Milan of Gio Ponti’s own lasting memorial – the Pirelli Tower. In collaboration with Pier Luigi Nervi, Ponti creates one of the first skyscrapers to ignore the classical rectangular formula. In an attempt to break away from infinitely extendable gridline ground-plans, Ponti erects a 416-foot-high building in the shape of a ship’s hull with tapered ends.
Gio Ponti died in Milan in 1979.