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Gio Ponti

Italy (1891–1979)

The Milanese poly­math Gio Ponti believed that the quick­est path to beauty was simplic­ity. This, in itself, was a radical idea, but the hundred build­ings in 13 coun­tries Ponti built in his 87 years proved him right. His style promoted comfort and empha­sized a light­ness of spirit and mate­r­ial. Never one to rest on his laurels, Ponti also founded and directed the legendary Domus maga­zine, which changed the course of 20th Century design by intro­duc­ing a gener­a­tion of Italian design­ers to the work and ideas of Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Charles and Ray Eames. 

But this impact of his own work remains profound. His most famous skyscraper, the Pirelli Tower, took the au courant concrete-and-curtain wall block and faceted its sides, almost forming a smile. His resi­dences often eschewed walls of glass for float­ing facades that illu­mi­nated like movie screens. Most of all, his indus­trial design embod­ied an unfussy faith in sensu­al­ity: his 1948 La Pavoni espresso machine curves in all the right places, as do his mid-century perfume bottles of Murano glass made in collab­o­ra­tion with Piero Fornasetti. Most success­ful of all remains is Super­leg­gera Chair for Cassina, with a frame that bends back­wards to soothe the sitter and a cane seat so light­weight a child could lift it, and did, in its joyful ad campaign. 


Designs by Gio Ponti (3)