Ana Mihajloska History of Architecture And Modern Interior Design Fall 2010 Gio Ponti and Italian modernism “Love architecture, be it ancient or modern. Love it for its fantastic, adventurous and solemn creations; for its inventions; for the abstract, allusive and figurative forms that enchant our spirit and enrapture our thoughts. Love architecture, the stage and support of our lives. ” These are the words of one of the most famous and renown architects and designers of Italian Modernism, Gio Ponti. He was born in Milan, where he studied architecture and design.Through out the course of his life Gio Ponti became known in various areas.
He was a poet, painter, industrial designer, architect and the founding director of Domus magazine. Out of all his work of design he became known as the Godfather of Italy’s post-war design renaissance. His main idea was to propagate for design excellence, and he encouraged everyone to use good design in order to be able to enjoy the vivid, sensual and good life ( la Dolce Vita). After graduating he did not start working as an architect but instead as an art director of ceramic manufacturer, Richard Ginori.In the year 1925 he won the ‘grand prix’ at the Paris expo.
In 1928 he founded the Magazine “Domus” along with Ugo Ojetti. Later in his life, Gio Ponti revived his interest in architecture by building houses in Milan, Paris. This structures were known as “domuses” , common for his style which looked like typical Milanese homes from the outside, contrasting the interiors which were innovative with flexible spaces and modular furniture. His buildings were characterized by harmony between form and function, which is in fact the main idea of the modernist movement.His design was functional and economical in terms of materials and production, in other words his goal was to minimalize the product and the cost of production. His architectural career began in partnership with Mino Fiocchi and Emilio Lancia. During this period he was influenced by the Italian Neo-classic movement. Some of the works commissioned in collaboration with his partners were the ‘Bouilhet Villa in Garaches, Paris, in 1926; the Monument to the Fallen done in partnership with the reknown architect Giovanni Muzio; the Casa Rasini aparment blocks in Milan and the Domus Julia-Domus Fausta complex.
His later major commissions were the headquarters of a chemical firm Montecatini, and also the construction of the Pirelli Towers in Milan in partnership with Pier Luigi Nervi and Arturo Danuso. In 1960’s he designs the two Caracas houses, the Villa Planchart and Villa Arreaza, which were known for their ‘Joie de Vivre’ style. These structures are perfect example of his playful and open-minded attitude towards his ideas and design. Gio Ponti was also known for his contribution to Italian furniture and industrial design in general.Going back to the beginning of his career when he was working at the Manifattura Ceramica of Richard Ginori in Milan he designed some great works which include: a line of furnishings for the Rinascente stores, known as Domus Nova; ceramic objects such as porcelain, vases, sanitary ware; he was also known for his furniture designs like chairs for example. He designed the angular “Distex” chair for cassina and also the most famous “Superleggera” which is perfect example of his idea of good design.
The chair is made in such a way that is extremlly light hence the name ‘Super light’, that it could be lifted up by a child simply with one finger. He also worked as a designer of decorative glass bottles for Venini, and as a designer of lamps for also Venini and Artemide, two very famous Italian companies. His design of lamps was divided in two types: very shiny ones, with bright and vivid colors; and minimalist kind, with simple and functional forms. One of his most famous was the ‘Billa Lamp’. The work of Gio Ponti still stands as the hallmark of Italian Novocento modernist movement.
His ideas and creations are representation of the principles of Modern design. Following the idea of ‘ form follows function’ he was trying to incorporate the least amount of material in his works, still creating something that is extremely functional with excellence of design. Bibliography: ? http://www. designboom.
com/portrait/ponti/bio. html ? http://designmuseum. org/design/gio-ponti ? http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Gio_Ponti ———————– Figure 1 Images from the Domus magazine Figure 3 Villa Planchart, Caracas,1955 Figure 2 Pirelli Tower, Milan, 1956 Figure 4 ‘Superleggera’, 1957, Cassina