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.