Giovanni “Gio” Ponti (Milan 1891–1979)

Gio Ponti was the only child of a Milanese family, his father an Edison executive. He studied at the Milan Polytechnic, where he graduated in architecture in 1921. He married Giulia Vimercate the same year.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Armchairs and table Design by Gio Ponti

 

 

 

In 1923, he was appointed artistic director of the Richard Ginori porcelain factory and then made his first buildings in Milan and France, with Emilio Lancia and Tomaso Buzzi.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Richard Ginori 1923/1925 large glazed ceramic vase

His success at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925 speaks to his important role in the modernization of the Italian decorative arts.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
“The dancer” Design by Gio Ponti 1920

 

 

 

He founded Domus magazine and started a small series of furniture that balanced art and industry. Though in his early years he was inspired by the Wiener Werkstatte and revisited classicism with a joyful touch, in the 1930s Gio Ponti gradually started absorbing the lessons of modernism and rationalism.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Signed table by Paolo De Poli

In the context of the modernization of Italy under the fascist government, Gio Ponti completed three major projects: the mathematics faculty in Rome, the offices of the Montecatini group in Milan, and a major renovation including the furnishings of the University of Padua.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Desk Gio Ponti e Piero Fornasetti Design

In the 1940s, his collaborations with artists and artisans the caliber of Paolo De Poli and Piero Fornasetti let his eclectic genius be expressed to the highest levels. After taking a break for several years and founding and directing the independent magazine Lo Stile, Gio Ponti took over the editorship of Domus in 1948 and opened the Ponti-Fornaroli-Rosselli agency in 1952.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Dresser and Armchair Design by Gio Ponti

After the war, his career took off by leaps and bounds and the commissions multiplied both in Italy with the emblematic Pirelli Tower in Milan, and in New York, Stockholm, and Caracas, with the legendary Villa Planchart.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Villa Planchart Designer by Gio Ponti

It can be said without a doubt that Gio Ponti contributed more than anyone else in the field of design to spread the “Made in Italy” brand through his talent and boundless creativity.

In his book Amate l’Architettura, Gio Ponti lays out his theory of the “Finite Form,” where he explains in depth his original theory that perfect architecture allows neither additions nor subtractions.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Dresser and Armchair Design by Gio Ponti

In his last work, the cathedral of Madre di Dio in Taranto, Ponti reached the pinnacle of his pursuit of transparency and lightness.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Leggerissima Chairs and Armchairs Design by Gio Ponti

He died in Milan in 1979.

We can end by saying that his innumerable inventions and formal solutions share one thing in common: the pursuit of a great humanist ideal, spreading peerless Italian style and making it universal.

Gio Ponti the great Italian Design
Paolo De Poli table and Seguso chandelier Design Gio Ponti