|Birth Day:||November 18, 1891|
|Death Date:||Sep 16, 1979 (age 87)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Gio Ponti died on Sep 16, 1979 (age 87).
He served in World War I, earning the rank of Captain in the Pontonier Corps, from 1916 until 1918; he was awarded the Bronze Medal and the Italian Military Cross.
Ponti graduated with a degree in architecture in 1921 from the Politecnico di Milano University. He also married Giulia Vimercati in 1921; they had four children (Lisa, Giovanna, Letizia, and Giulio) and eight grandchildren.
In 1923, Ponti was appointed artistic director of Richard Ginori, one of Italy's leading porcelain manufacturers, based in Milan and Sesto Fiorentino, changing the company's whole output through the involvement of some of the main Italian artists of the time, including the sculptor Salvatore Saponaro. He completely renewed the iconographic repertoire by freely revisiting the classical tradition. He also rationalized the production system of the pieces while maintaining their high quality of execution. The pieces were presented at the first decorative arts biennial in Monza in 1923. With his new designs, he won the great prize for ceramics in 1925 at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. After this major success, Ponti played a major role in the modernisation of Italian decorative arts, especially thanks to his involvement in the Monza Biennials and the Milan Triennials. In the 1920s, Ponti began numerous collaborations, notably with the silverware company Christofle, the glassmakers Venini and Fontana Arte. He also founded the Labirinto group, with Tomaso Buzzi, Pietro Chiesa and Paolo Venini, among others. The Labirinto unique piece furniture was made of luxurious materials; at the same time, he designed Domus Nova with Emilio Lancia, a furniture collection with simple lines that was produced in series and sold by the Milanese department store La Rinascente.
Ponti began his architectural career in partnership with Mino Fiocchi and Emilio Lancia from 1923 through 1927, and then through 1933 with Lancia only, as Studio Ponti e Lancia PL. In these years he was influenced by and associated with the Milanese neoclassical Novecento Italiano movement. In 1925, Ponti participated in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, with the porcelain manufacturer. On this occasion, he made friends with Tony Bouilhet, director of the silversmith company Christofle. The family Bouilhet who entrusted him with his first architectural commission abroad, with the construction of the Ange Volant (1926–1928, in collaboration with Emilio Lancia and Tomaso Buzzi), a country house located on the edge of the Saint-Cloud golf course, on the outskirts of Paris. As he built his first building in Milan, via Randaccio (1925–1926), the Ange Volant was an opportunity for Ponti to experiment with his personal conception of the Italian-style house, the principles of which he gathered in his book La Casa all'Italiana published in 1933. Other outputs of the time include the 1928 Monument to the Fallen with the Novecento architects Giovanni Muzio, Tomaso Buzzi, Ottavio Cabiati, Emilio Lancia and Alberto Alpago Novello
From the beginning of his career, Ponti promoted Italian creation in all its aspects. From a simple participant, he became a member of the steering committee of the Monza Biennials in 1927, where he advocated for a closer bond between crafts and industry. Thanks to his involvement, the Biennale underwent tremendous development: renamed the Triennial of Art and Modern Architecture in 1930 and relocated to Milan in 1933, it became a privileged place to observe innovation at the international level.
Within the new multidisciplinary review of art, architecture and interior design Domus, which he founded in 1928 with the publisher Gianni Mazzochi and which he directed almost all his life, Ponti had the opportunity to spread his ideas. The aim of this review was to document all forms of artistic expression in order to stimulate creation through an independent critical perspective. A mirror of the architectural and decorative arts trends, it introduced Italian readers to the modernist movement and creators such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jean-Michel Frank and Marcel Breuer. Ponti also presented the work of Charles Eames and of the decorator Piero Fornasetti. Over the years, the magazine became more international and played an important role in the evolution of Italian and international design and architecture. Still published today, Domus is a reference in the fields of architecture and design.
In the 1930s, while Ponti continued to design unique pieces of furniture for specific interiors, and encouraged the promotion of quality series production. In 1930, he designed furniture and lighting for the glassmaker Fontana and became in 1933, together with Pietro Chiesa, the artistic director of the branch Fontana Arte. He created in particular a cylindrical lamp surrounded by crystal discs and mirrors and the famous Bilia Lamp.
The 1930s were years of intense activity for Ponti. He was involved in many projects, particularly in his native city of Milan. With the construction of the Borletti funeral chapel in 1931, he started to adopt a modernist shift. By removing all ornament, Ponti moved towards formal simplification where he sought to make style and structure coincide. The ten "case tipiche" (typical houses), built in Milan between 1931 and 1938, were also close to Rationalist Modernism while retaining features of Mediterranean houses like balconies, terraces, loggias and pergolas. Spacious, equipped and built with modern materials, they met the requirements of the new Milanese bourgeoisie. The construction of the Rasini building (1933–1936) with its flat roofs marked the end of his partnership with Emilio Lancia around 1933. He then joined forces with engineers Antonio Fornaroli and Eugenio Soncini to form Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Soncini which lasted until 1945.
Still in Milan, the 108-meter-high (354 ft) Littoria Tower (now Branca Tower), topped by a panoramic restaurant, was built in 1933 on the occasion of the Fifth Triennial of Decorative Arts, which inaugurated its new headquarters built by Giovanni Muzio. With the first office building of the Montecatini chemical group (1935–1938), for which he used the latest techniques and materials produced by the firm, in order to reflect the company's avant-garde spirit, Ponti designed, on an unprecedented scale (the offices housed 1,500 workstations), a building in every detail, from architecture to furniture.
In 1934 he was given the title of "Commander" of the Royal Order of Vasa in Stockholm. He also obtained the Accademia d'Italia Art Prize for his artistic merits, as well as a gold medal from the Paris Académie d'Architecture. Finally, he obtained an honorary doctorate from the London Royal College of Art.
Ponti is also involved in the project to expand the new university campus in Rome, led by the urban planner Marcello Piacentini by designing the School of Mathematics school, inaugurated in 1935. Ponti chose bright and functional spaces with simple lines, including a fan-shaped building that housed three amphitheaters. From 1934 to 1942, he worked at the University of Padua, with the construction and interior design of the new Faculty of Arts, Il Liviano (1934–1940), then the artistic direction and interior design of the Aula Magna, the basilica and the rectorate of the Palazzo Bo. In the late 1930s, Ponti deepened his research on Mediterranean housing by collaborating with writer and architect Bernard Rudofsky. Together, they imagined in 1938 the Albergo nel bosco on the island of Capri, a hotel designed as a village of house-bedrooms, all unique and scattered in the landscape.
From 1936 to 1961 he worked as a professor on the permanent staff of the Faculty of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano University.
At the turn of the 1940s, architectural projects continued initially for Ponti, with the construction of the Columbus Clinic (1939–1949) in Milan, and the interior design of the Palazzo del Bo at the University of Padua where he carried out a monumental fresco on the stairs leading to the rectorate. From 1943, due to the Second World War, his activity as an architect slowed down. This period corresponded to a period of reflection in which Ponti devoted himself to writing and designing sets and costumes for theatre and opera, such as Igor Stravinsky's Pulcinella for the Triennial Theatre in 1940, or Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice for the Milan Scala in 1947. He also planned a film adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV for Louis Jouvet and Anton Giulio Bragaglia.
In 1941 Ponti he resigned as editor of Domus and set up Stile magazine, which he edited until 1947. In 1948 he returned to Domus, where he remained as editor until his death. His daughter Lisa Licitra Ponti soon joined the editorial team. In the 1950s, the review became more international and the reopening of borders encouraged confrontation with different cultural and visual worlds. Thanks to his involvement in numerous exhibitions, Ponti established himself as a major player in the development of post-war design and the diffusion of "Made in Italy".
At the turn of the 1950s, Ponti deployed a prolific creation where he sought to combine aesthetic and functional requirements: the espresso machine for La Pavoni in 1948 and the Visetta sewing machine for Visa (1949), textiles for JSA, door handles for Olivari, a range of sanitary facilities for Ideal Standard, cutlery for Krupp Italiana and Christofle, lighting for Arredoluce and furniture for the Swedish department store Nordiska Kompaniet. From its fruitful collaboration with Cassina, the Leggera and Superleggera (superlight) chairs, the Distex, Round, Lotus and Mariposa chairs are now among the classics of Italian design. In 1957, the Superleggera chair designed for Cassina, and still produced today, was put on the market. Starting from the traditional chair model, originating from the village of Chiavari in Liguria, Ponti eliminated all unnecessary weight and material and assimilated the shape as much as possible to the structure, in order to obtain a modern silhouette weighing only 1.7 kg. the chair, which was very strong but also so light that it can be lifted by a child using just one finger. Some of his furniture is now being reissued by Molteni&C. In the United States, he participated in the exhibition Italy at Work at the Brooklyn Museum in 1950, and created furniture for Singer & Sons, Altamira, and cutlery for Reed & Barton ("Diamond" flatware, 1958), adapted for production by designer Robert H. Ramp).
In the field of interior design, Ponti multiplied inventions and favoured multifunctional solutions; In 1951, he developed an ideal hotel room for the Milan Triennial, in which he presented a "dashboard" bed headboard composed of shelves, some of which were mobile, and control buttons for electricity or radio. He then applied this solution to domestic spaces and offices, with "organised walls". Next came the "fitted windows", for the manufacturer Altamira in particular and that he used for his apartment via Dezza. With its vertical and horizontal frames through which shelves, bookcases and frames can be arranged, the "fitted window" became the fourth transparent wall of a room and ensured a transition between the inside and the outside.
After World War 2, with the emergence of the Italian economic boom, the 1950s were a busy time for Ponti, who traveled abroad. He participated in the redevelopment and interior design of several Italian liners (Conte Grande et Conte Biancamano, 1949, Andrea Doria and Giulio Cesare, 1950, Oceania, 1951), showcases the know-how of his country. Construction continued in Milan. In 1952, he created a new agency with Antonio Fornaroli and his son-in-law Alberto Rosselli. This vast hangar was designed as an architecture laboratory, an exhibition space and a space for the presentation of studies and models. After the death of Alberto Rosselli he continued to work with his longtime partner Antonio Fornaroli. A block away, in via Dezza, Ponti built a nine-story apartment building, which housed his family. From 1950 to 1955, he was also in charge of the urban planning project for the Harar-Dessiè social housing district in Milan with architects Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini. For this complex, he designed two buildings with highly colored profiles, one of which was designed in collaboration with the architect Gigi Gho.
In the 1940s and early 1950s, Ponti turned to unique creations showcasing the skills of exceptional craftsmen. With the artist and enameller Paolo De Poli, they created enamelled panels and brightly colored furniture. In 1956, they imagined an imaginary and colorful bestiary, light decorative objects such as cut and folded paper. Other collaborations were established, in particular with the Dal Monte brothers, who specialised in the production of papier-mâché objects, the ceramist Pietro Melandri, the porcelain manufacturer Richard Ginori and the Venini glass factory in Murano. From 1946 to 1950, he designed many objects for this glassmaker: bottles, chandeliers, including a multicoloured chandelier. The bottles evoke stylized female bodies. It was also in 1940 that he began working with the decorator and designer Piero Fornasetti. This fruitful collaboration, during which they designed furniture and many interiors where ornament and fantasy prevailed (Palazzo del Bo in Padua – 1940, Dulcioria pastry shop in Milan–1949, Sanremo casino – 1950, the liners Conte Grande – 1949 and Andrea Doria – 1950, etc.), spanned two decades.
In 1957, Ponti published Amate l'architettura (In Praise of Architecture), his seminal work where he defined the expression of a finished form (la forma finita) that was simple, light, and did not allow any possibility of extension, addition, repetition or superposition. This concept applied to architecture as well as art and design. It was symbolized by the hexagonal shape of the diamond that Ponti used in many of his creations.
In the 1950s and in the 1960s, Ponti multiplied events in Italy and abroad. In 1964, he organised a series of exhibitions in the Ideal Standard showroom in Milan, named "Espressioni", featuring a generation of talents such as Ettore Sottsass, Bruno Munari, Achille Castiglioni, Nanda Vigo, Enzo Mari or the artists Lucio Fontana and Michelangelo Pistoletto. It was also in the mid 1960s that he befriended art critic Pierre Restany, who became a regular contributor to the Domus magazine. Ponti also coordinated the Italian and European editions of the Eurodomus design exhibitions, including the exhibition "Formes italiennes" in 1967 at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. At Eurodomus 2 in Turin in 1968, Ponti presented a model of a city, Autilia, for which he imagined a continuous vehicle circulation system. The art historian Nathan Shapira, his student and disciple, organised that same year, with the help of Ponti, his first retrospective exhibition which travelled the United States for two years.
The 1960s and 1970s were dominated by international architectural projects in places like Tehran, Islamabad and Hong Kong where Ponti developed new architectural solutions: the façades of his buildings became lighter and seemed to be detached like suspended screens. With the church of San Francesco al Fopponino in Milan (1961–1964), he created his first façade with perforated hexagonal openings. The sky and light became important protagonists of his architecture. This theatricality was reinforced by the omnipresence of ceramics, whose uses he reinvented both indoors and outdoors. In collaboration with the Milanese firm Ceramica Joo, he created diamond-shaped tiles with which he covered most of his facades (Villa Arreaza in Caracas, 1954–1956, Villa Nemazee in Tehran, 1957–1964, Shui Hing department store in Hong Kong, 1963, San Carlo Borromeo Hospital Church, 1964–1967 and Montedoria building, 1964–1970 in Milan). With Ceramica D'Agostino, he designed tiles with blue and white or green and white motifs that once combined create different more than a hundred motifs. They were used for the interior decoration of the hotels Parco dei Principi in Sorrento (1960) and in Rome (19611964). The Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento was one of the first design hotel in Italy. Ponti also offered to Domus readers detailed plans of a circular house called Il scarabeo sotto la foglia (1964– The beetle under a leaf). This small oval building was covered with white and green ceramic tiles, both inside and outside, including the roof. Its envelope reflected the surrounding landscape and blended into it, like the shell of a beetle. In 1966, collector Giobatta Meneguzzo built his version of the beetle under a leaf in the province of Vicenza and entrusted the Italian designer Nanda Vigo for the interior design. With the Bijenkorf department store in Eindhoven in the Netherlands (1966–1969), Ponti proposed another solution, by creating a tiled façade for an existing building. Modular, it was enlivened thanks to the non-uniform arrangement of its openings with various shapes. Lit from behind, the facade turned into a bright screen at night. Facing the building, Ponti designed a living square where the inhabitants could meet and rest on sculptures built for this purpose. Ponti also deepened his reflection on the skyscraper with a project of triangular and coloured towers (1967–1969).
In the last years of his life, Ponti was more than ever in search of transparency and lightness. He saw his facades as folded and perforated sheets of paper with geometric shapes. The 1970s began with the inauguration in 1970 of the Taranto Cathedral, a white rectangular building topped with a huge concrete facade perforated with openings. In 1971, he participated in the construction of the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, taking care of the building's exterior envelope. He also submitted in 1971 a project for the future Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris by proposing to model an axis in the capital linking the Baltard pavilions in les Halles pavilions to the future modern art museum thanks to an art "garden".
In 1970, Ponti presented his concept of an adapted house (casa adatta) at Eurodomus 3 in Milan, where the house is centred around a spacious room with sliding partitions, around which the rooms and service areas gravitate. The space requirement for furniture and services was reduced to a minimum. The furniture also became flexible and space-saving in order to optimise space. The Gabriela chair (1971) with a reduced seat, as well as the Apta furniture series (1970) for Walter Ponti, illustrated this new way of life.
Ponti continued to create wall and floor coverings whose graphic rendering becomes a work of art in itself. Foliage patterns were developed on tiles for Ceramica D'Agostino. Together with this manufacturer, he also produced geometrically decorated and coloured tiles to cover the floors of the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper's headquarters in Salzburg in 1976. A similar process was used in 1978 to cover the facade of the Shui Hing department store in Singapore. Finally, that same year, his ultimate decorative and poetic shapes, a bestiary of folded silver leaves, were interpreted by the silversmith Lino Sabattini. Ponti died on 16 September 1979.
Gio was born to Enrico Ponti and Giovanne Rigone in Milan. Gio married in 1921 to Giulia Vimercati and had four children.
Currently, Gio Ponti is 130 years, 10 months and 13 days old. Gio Ponti will celebrate 131st birthday on a Friday 18th of November 2022. Below we countdown to Gio Ponti upcoming birthday.