Gio Ponti: the first “archi-designer”


Architect or designer? Refusing to choose between the two, Gio Ponti became one of the most influential “archi-designers” of the 20th century. He has been honored in a retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) since October 19, 2018, where his work can be admired until May 5, 2019. The sunny days offer the perfect opportunity to go discover his creations.

A relentless worker, Italian Gio Ponti left behind an ocean of radiantly eclectic productions. Industrial design, lighting, interior design, ceramics… With over 500 pieces on display, the exhibition Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti archi-designer turns the spotlight on a master revered by collectors and art lovers but little known by the public at large. Here are three of the most emblematic works of this elegant, noble “Italian” style that revolutionized the vision of post-war design.

1. The “Cornuta” espresso machine

“La Cornuta” espresso machine

At the peak of his career, Gio Ponti worked on multiple projects and collaborated on many furniture creations. In 1951, “La Cornuta,” a special order from the La Pavoni company, created a buzz. The first espresso machine designed horizontally, it conveys – for the first time – a certain idea of dolce vita with lines inspired by gleaming machines and victorious Italy dreamed up by Gio Ponti after the war.

2. The “Triennale” armchair

“Triennale” armchair, presented at the 9th International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano, 1951

Crafted in faux leather and walnut wood, the Triennale armchair combines the post-modern elegance dear to Gio Ponti with the warm, earthy colors of sunny Southern Italy.

3. Ceramics

Hall of the Hotel Parco dei Principi, Sorrente, 1960

An ardent passion of Gio Ponti, ceramics were the link between his love of craftsmanship and his desire for industrial productions. He would integrate them into several of his creations, notably architectural ones. Always on the lookout for new techniques, he experimented with different types of clay, engobes and enamels and produced colored tiles for the Milanese company Ceramica Joo in 1956 and 1957. Used outside, his tiles transform façades into pearly surfaces and catch the sunlight. In interior spaces, his monochrome obsessions refresh the air while transporting the visitor into a supernatural realm. Designed by Gio Ponti, the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrente is a tribute to the blue mosaics of the Ligurian Coast.

“Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti archi-designer” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs until May 5, 2019.