In the 1950s Gio Ponti was given carte blanche on the architectural and interior design of three villas: two in Caracas, Venezuela and one in Tehran, Iran. Villa Arreaza in Caracas, also known as The Diamantina for the diamond motif on its exterior and interior walls, was one of these important villas.
Villa Arreaza, Caracas
Commissioned by Blanca Arreaza in 1954, the villa took four years to complete. From the open floor plan and furnishings to objects and décor, Gio Ponti considered every aspect of the villa’s design. Ponti employed a bold color scheme of blues and whites alongside contrasting geometric patterns of diamonds, stripes and blocks of color which he applied to the walls, furniture and floors, alike. He used varied ceiling heights, folding walls and large windows to connect the interior for the villa to nature. Likewise the custom furnishings — modern and functional — added to the beauty and the comfort of the home. Dedicated to the ideas of Joie de Vivre, Ponti endowed Villa Arreaza with life.
Villa Arreaza was partially demolished and altered in the 1990s but a number of furnishings survived. The following cabinet was originally included in Don Manuel Arreaza’s dressing room. The cabinet has remained in the family collection until now.
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.
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