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GIO PONTI Armchairs

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GIO PONTI (1891 - 1979)

 

Pair of armchairs, model 516, produced by Cassina,

c.1950s, with certificate of authenticity from the Gio Ponti

Archives.

82 x 65 x 75cm

When anyone speaks about Gio Ponti, both as man and designer, two phrases are used consistently: joy de vivre and la dolce vita. They describe a career that encompassed everything: architecture, ceramics, industrial design, interiors, painting, writing, teaching, poetry and, significantly, editing Europes leading design and architecture magazine, Domus. Irrepressible, impassioned and exceedingly generous, Gio Ponti is regarded today as the major coalescing force behind the golden age of 20th century Italian design.

Having graduated in architecture in 1921 from Milan Polytechnic, Ponti worked as artistic director for ceramics manufacturer, Richard-Ginori, where he laid the grounds for the kind of industrialised production lines for which post-war Milan was to become known.

While at Ginori, Ponti founded Domus, which, but for a break of six years, he went on to edit for the rest of his working life. It would prove not only a mouthpiece for his own ideas and beliefs, but also for those of his fellow designers, and its importance in terms of launching careers, drawing attention to movements, and elaborating on certain design ideas is difficult to overestimate.

Influenced by the Wiener Werkstatte, by traditional folk-craft imagery, and by his reading of classical forms, the mainly porcelain pieces, with their stylised imagery of nature, people and pastimes, earned Ponti a Grand Prix at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, an event that was to act as a catalyst for the subsequent Art Deco movement.

Ponti championed the ideals of rationalism referring to his Superleggera chair aschair...with no adjectives, that is to say just a chair, but light, slender and reasonable. He was also drawn to the baroque, the surreal, the futuristic. This fascination with a wide range of design styles and movements is evident in Gio Pontis work, chief among which are the decorative and colour saturated blown-glass pieces for Venini, his furniture and interior designs for Fornasetti and numerous projects for the likes of Fontana Arte, Artemide, Cassina and Kardex Italiano.

Throughout his working life, Gio Ponti was the recipient of numerous awards. He taught architecture at his alma mater, Milan Polytechnic for nearly 30 years, and during that time produced important architectural projects which matched his work in the field of industrial design, most notably the 1956 Pirelli Tower in Milan.

He died at home, in 1979. He remains a monumental figure in 20th century Italian design.

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