Milan-born Giovanni Ponti counts among the leading advocates of the Modernist cause in his work as an architect, designer, and writer. After completing studies in architecture at the Milan Politecnico in 1921, he designed ceramics for Richard Ginori from 1923 to 1930. His whimsical ceramic designs, mixing classicizing and Surrealist forms, would come to define his design style, a blend of the traditional and modern. His caned Leggera Chair notably merged the regional style of Chiavari with a specifically modern form. Ponti’s creations shared an understated appearance in their sleek and curving lines. His prolific repertoire includes brightly colored glassware for Venini and stainless steel flatware for Krupp, both in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as interiors for Italian ships such as the SS Andrea Doria. In his furniture designs for notably Cassina, Knoll, Arflex, and Tecno, Ponti favored lightness, elegant lines, and tapering legs. His more elaborate designs include those he did in collaboration with artist and designer Piero Fornasetti in the early 1950s. In 1952, he formed the architectural firm Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Rosselli with Antonio Fornaroli and Albert Rosselli. Their work included notably the Pirelli building (1956) in Milan. Ponti’s legacy surpassed designing. In addition to writing several books on architecture, in 1928, Ponti founded Domis, one of the foremost design magazines, serving as editor for most of his life. Additionally, he directed the second, third, and fourth Biennale Exhibitions of Decorative Arts at Monza, before helping relocate it to Milan in 1933, at which point it became an international showcase for modern design.
Roberto Aloi, L’arredamento moderno. Milan: U. Hoepli, 1934.
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, Design of the 20th Century (Köln: Taschen, 2005), 562-4.
Christine W. Laidlaw, “Ponti, Giovanni (Gio),” in Martin Eidelberg, ed., Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991), 392.
Ugo La Pietra. Gio Ponti (New York: Rizzoli, 2009).
Ginger Moro, “Gio Ponti: Creator of Classical Classics,” Echoes 7:4 (Spring 1999), 64-69, 86.