Nicholas Kilner


Gio Ponti (1891-1979)

Gio Ponti was one of the most important and influential Italian architects and designers of the 20th Century.  Having studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, where he would later teach, Ponti began his storied career as art director of the ceramics manufacturer Richard Ginori, and between 1923 and 1930 went on to revitalize the company’s fortunes. In 1926 he established his architecture studio with Emilio Lancia, and in 1928 founded the influential magazine Domus, where he served as editor until 1940, and subsequently from 1948 until 1979.  In 1928 he also launched the Domus Nova furniture series for la Rinascente department store in Milan. He founded Fontana Arte for Luigi Fontana in 1932, which he ran with his friend Pietro Chiesa until 1945, and in 1941 founded the magazine Stile, which ran until 1947 when he returned to Domus. During the 40s he designed Murano glass for Paolo Venini, and in 1948 designed the iconic La Cornuta espresso machine for La Pavoni. That same year he embarked on a four-year commission to restore four Italian ocean liners with Nino Zoncada. The 1950s was a no less accomplished decade, beginning with the interior of the Casino at San Remo that Ponti undertook in collaboration with Piero Fornasetti. In 1953 he designed the Distex and Diamond chairs for Cassina, built the villa Planchart in Caracas from 1953-57, broke ground on the Pirelli tower in Milan in 1956, launched the Superleggera chair with Cassina in 1957 and built the villa Nemazee in Tehran in 1960.  He designed the interiors for the Parco dei Principi hotel in Rome and its sister hotel in Sorrento in 1964, the latter interior of which remains intact. He continued to work in Milan until 1979.