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Exhibition: "Gio Ponti: A World" at the Design Museum in London

by ArchNewsNow
September 10, 2002

There’s a little bit less than a month (until October 6 to be exact) to view “Gio Ponti: A World” at London’s Design Museum. Organized in collaboration with the Ponti family, the exhibition draws on Ponti’s archive to present a vivid portrait of one of the 20th century’s most important and engaging architects and designers.


Although he thought of himself primarily as an architect, Ponti (1891-1979) was also a poet, painter, writer, curator, and industrial designer who stamped his exuberant modernist style over everything from furniture and lighting, to stage sets and ocean liners. Above all, Ponti was a passionate advocate of design excellence, who devoted his life to encouraging everyone to use design as a means of enjoying his vision of la dolce vita, the colourful, sensual Italian good life.


Born in Milan in 1891, Ponti studied architecture there before being drafted into the army in World War I. After the War, he worked as an industrial designer and, in 1928, founded Domus, the architecture, art, and design magazine. Originally a vehicle for the ideas of Ponti and his friends, Domus was to become one of the world’s most influential architecture magazines.


Ponti edited Domus for most of the rest of his life while continuing his work in design and architecture. As a designer, he created such iconic products as the 1948 La Pavoni espresso machine that became a symbol of 1950s coffee bar culture, and the 1957 Superleggera chair, which is so light that even a child can lift it on the tip of a finger. In architecture, Ponti’s most noted projects include the 1956 Pirelli Tower in Milan (recently damaged when a small plane flew into it), the 1955 Villa Planchart in Caracas, and the 1971 Denver Art Museum.


This exhibition is supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
Taranto Cathedral, 1970

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
Gio Ponti, Caracas, 1954

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
La Pavoni Coffee Machine, Milan, 1948

(Kristen Richards)
Denver Art Museum, 1971

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
Villa Planchart, Caracas, 1955

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
Villa Arreaza, Caracas, 1956

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
Gio Ponti working in his studio on the Piatta Pozzi; the dinner set for Ceramica Franco Pozzi c. 1967

((c) G. Ponti archives / S. Licitra - Milan)
A front cover of DOMUS magazine founded by Gio Ponti in 1928

© 2002