Gio Ponti (1891 – 1979) is arguably the most important and influential figure in Italian design of the 20th Century. His work was so diverse, so prolific over such a large period that his importance in shaping what we call Italian design cannot be denied.
An architect, furniture and industrial designer, editor and lecturer Gio Ponti’s talents spanned many mediums designing 1000’s of furnishings and products.
Graduating in architecture from the Milan Polytechnic in 1921 he started designing ceramics for Richard Ginori, earning a Grand Prix at the Expostion des Arts Decorative in Paris 1925. The fair that was so influential on Art Deco, and where it got its name.
He designed glass objects for Vernini, lamps for Fontana Arte and Artemide, flatware for Reed and Barton, furniture for Cassina and ISA to name a few.
He was also an architect with buildings in 14 countries around the world, most famously the Pirelli Tower (1956) in Milan and the hotel Parco dei Principi (1961) in Sorrento.
In 1928 he founded the highly influential Domus magazine and was its editor (bar 6 years when he edited Stile magazine) for the rest of his life. The magazine served as a mouthpiece for his and his contemporaries ideas, launching careers and shining a light on new Italian design.
With furniture he was interested in items that displayed craftsmanship, good functional design and industrial process.
He liked small scale family orientated artisan based industries usually joining as a designer, and a consultant on expanding output without sacrificing quality.
His most noticeable pieces of furniture are the Distex armchair (1953) and Superleggera chair (1957) both for Cassina, and the Triennale chair (1951) for ISA.
Other notable furniture is his collaboration with Pietro Fornasetti which begun in the late 1940’s of which the interior for the ocean liner Andrea Doria was the most famous commission.
Gio Ponti was a prolific designer who spanned many mediums from the early 1920’s till his death in the late 1970’s. The volume of work is so extensive it is hard to do him any justice.