Designer: Gio Ponti

Wright celebrates the enduring legacy of Gio Ponti, one of the most defining architects and designers of the 20th century. Wright holds the second highest auction record for a work by Ponti and has handled over 1,000 items by the prolific and influential designer, with over $10 million in results.
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I believe that each piece of furniture, though always functional (the functions are many, but one of them is to be pleasing), should engage the imagination of the person who designs it and the person who looks at it.

Gio Ponti

Ponti in Collaboration

Gio Ponti and Piero Fornasetti first worked together in 1933, forming an important relationship that would last for decades. Their collaboration intensified in the 1950s when Ponti invited Fornasetti to work with him on numerous prestigious projects. Ships, villas, hotels and above all the Italian bourgeoisie reaped the benefits of the duo’s partnership which proceeded according to an established and well-tested pattern: Ponti designed, Fornasetti decorated and Pietro Chiesa executed the designs.

Photos reproduced from Fornasetti and Gio Ponti: Le Maioliche, Manna

Important Commissions

[Style is] not understood as belonging merely to the formal rigor of building, furniture, decor, and objects, but rather a broad field of taste, of concordance and noble, harmonious affinities between the many things that are the expressions, ornaments or instruments of our lives.

Gio Ponti

Free and Spirited

The Neoclassical Designs of Gio Ponti

Richard Ginori at the Mostra Internazionale dell Arti Decorative, Villa Reale, 1925.

In the 1920s Gio Ponti revolutionized the production of Richard Ginori with ceramic pieces, as he describes “of vaguely neoclassical inspiration, with Etruscan suggestions, turned toward the modern with ironic elegance.” Finely executed, Ponti’s works for Richard Ginori were widely admired at the 1923 Biennale in Monza so much so that he was named artistic director for the company that same year. At the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris just two years later, Richard Ginori was awarded two grand prizes, one for Ponti and his ceramic designs.

Ponti renewed artistic expression with a modern take on classical ornamentation and decoration, forms that had once been forgotten were newly found, architecture and lively figures graced his objects. Further, his works illustrated a collaboration of art and industry as his designs were increasing applied to functional forms and not just decorative objects. Under Ponti’s direction, Richard Ginori became widely acclaimed in Italy, recognized for their precision in design, study in detail and perfect execution. During his tenure at the firm and in the years following, Ponti would create more than 400 designs.

Decorative Works

For people of sane taste and rational mind, 'modernity' is an artistocracy of choice and the adoption of a measure and a simplicity...Modernity is an attitude toward living, thinking, knowing, and evaluating before furnishing.

Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti 1891–1979

Gio Ponti excelled at painting as a child and expressed a fervent interest in the arts. Feeling that a career in architecture was preferable to that of a painter, Ponti’s parents encouraged him to pursue the former and in 1914 he enrolled at the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. His studies were interrupted by war, and in 1915 he was forced to postpone his education. He served as a captain in the Pontonier Corps until 1919, earning multiple military honors. After graduating in 1921, Ponti married Giulia Vimercati, the daughter of local aristocracy and started an architecture firm. During this time, Ponti aligned himself with the neoclassical movement, Novecento and championed a revival of the arts and culture. In 1928, Ponti founded Domus, a periodical tailored to artists and designers, as well as the broader public. A shift occurred in the 1930s when Ponti took up a teaching post at his alma mater, the Politecnico di Milano. In search of new methods to express Italian modernity, Ponti distanced himself from the sentiments of Novecento and sought to reconcile art and industry. Together with the engineers, Eugenio Soncini and Antonio Fornaroli, Ponti enjoyed great success in the industrial sector, securing various commissions throughout Italy. In the 1950s, he gained international fame with the design of the Pirelli Tower in Milan and he was asked to be a part of the urban renewal of Baghdad, collaborating with top architects from around the world. His 1957 book, Amate l’architettura, is considered to be a microcosm of his work —an incredible legacy spanning art, architecture, industrial design, publishing and academia.

Gio and Giulia Ponti at home in Milan, c. 1956. Photo courtesy of the Gio Ponti Archives.

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A degree of amusement should not be excluded from interior design...it is an old tradition.

Gio Ponti