Gio Ponti

Milan, 1891-1979

Gio Ponti studied architecture at the polytechnic in Milan. In 1921 he began to work in the architectural practice of Mino Fiocchi and Emilio Lancia.
From 1923 until 1930 he was artistic director of the ceramic factory Richard Ginori in Doccia which, thanks to Ponti’s thorough updating of its production, soon became a leading manufacturer. In 1923 Ponti, Tomaso Buzzi, Pietro Chiesa, Emilio Lancia, Michele Marelli, Paolo Venini and Carlo Visconti di Modrone formed the artists’ association “Il Labirinto” to promote contemporary applied art. In 1925-26, houses designed by Gio Ponti were built for the first time, in Milan and in Paris.
In 1926 he founded the Studio Ponti e Lancia, with Emilio Lancia in Milan. In 1927 he designed silver models for Christofle in Paris and interior designs for store and apartments. In 1928 he founded the journal Domus, of which he was chief editor until 1940 and from 1948 to 1979.
At the XVI and XVII Biennale in Venice (1928-30) showed his creations for Christofle, for Bega and a leaded window executed by Pietro Chiesa. The same year (1928) he developped the inexpensive furniture series “Domus Nova” for the department store “La Rinascente” in Milan. From 1930 designed wallpaper for Krupp Italiana and silverware for Luigi Genazzi; also built up an artistic department for Luigi Fontana, which from 1933 to 1945 was run by Ponti and his friend Pietro Chiesa as “Fontana Arte”. Both designed glass vessels and objects, in addition to lamps and furniture made of glass in combination with metal and wood; the glasswork was lavish, involving sandblasting, engraving, cutting and/or painting. Until 1934 Ponti worked primarily in the area of applied art and design in all materials.
In 1933, at the V Triennale in Milan Ponti was represented by, among other things, designs for engravings for Fontana Arte and Muranese company, S.A.L.I.R. From 1936 worked increasingly in industrial design and began teaching at the faculty of architecture at the Polytechnic in Milan.
In 1941 he founded the magazine Stile, which existed until 1947. From 1940 collaborated with the enamel artist Paolo De Poli on the production of table tops. Until 1951 was again highly active in all areas of design, like Venini, Fontana Arte and Cassina. In 1949 he made the interior design of the ocean liners Conte Grande and Conte Biancamano.
In 1950 in the American traveling exhibition “Italy at Work” he showed a dining room design in combination with designs by Piero Fornasetti.
In 1952 Ponti was with the architects Antonio Fornaroli and Alberto Rosselli. Again more active as an architect, designing, e.g. the “Pirellone” (1956).
in 1954 he designed for Egidio Costantini’s “Fucina degli Angeli”.
In 1957 he received the “Compasso d’Oro” for the chair “Superleggera”, Cassina, designed in 1955.
1964-68: furniture and lamps designed for leading international companies.
1973-74: his last buildings are constructed in Parma and in Hong Kong.
1978: silver objects for Sabattini.

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