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Photo: Interior Gio Ponti

Whoppah Explores with you: Designer Gio Ponti

Discover with us all about the famous designer Gio Ponti

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ByEvelien RemmelsSeptember 2021

Who is Gio Ponti?

Gio Ponti was born in Milan on November 18, 1891, where he graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in 1921. In the same year, he opened his first studio with architects Emilio Lancia and Mino Fiocchi, joining the "Milanese Neoclassicists" group. With Lancia, Buzzi, Marelli, Venini and Chiesa, he founded "Il Labirinto" in 1927 with the aim of producing high quality avant-garde furniture. There are few areas in which Ponti was not influential. During his career spanning six decades, he built more than a hundred buildings, including his most famous work the Pirelli Building in Milan. Like so many other versatile architects, Ponto tended to design buildings down to the drawers and doorknobs. He also left his mark on decorative art and, through his influential magazine 'Domus Magazine', had a dominant voice when it came to the renewal of Italian design in the 20th century. At the same time, Ponti trained several generations of designers as professors at the School of architecture at Milan Polytechnic.

ParagraphPhoto: Gio Ponti with his son and Superleggera chairs

Ponti Style

His style is easily recognized by its homage to the classic, while at the same time making use of innovations in technology and design. At Ponti it was all about classic elegance with a new look. A reinterpretation of the classic style, with an eye for comfort. A well-known design is his Superleggera (ultra-light) chair. The chair can be recognized by the slender, elegant tapered chair legs, sometimes revealed in bronze. A refined alternative to the traditional Italian heavy peasant furniture of the time.

ParagraphPhoto: Living room of Ponti's Villa Planchart

Design classics

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Ponti became very prolific as a furniture designer, with his chairs and sofas becoming extremely popular. His classics include: armchair model no. 811 for Figli di Amedeo Cassina (1950), with an oblique and angular wooden frame and a suspension system for the seat and back made of elastic straps made by Pirelli. The Diamond sofa, originally made for his home (Cassina, 1953). The Mariposa or Butterfly Chair, which was originally designed for the Villa Planchart in Caracas (1955). The successful ubiquitous Superleggera chair, also for Cassina (1957). The Dezza armchair for Poltrona Frau in 1966. Ponti also designed lighting for Artemide, Venini and Fontana Arte, including sustainable designs such as the Billia Lamp.

ParagraphPhoto left: Gio Ponti chair model nr. 811 for Sons of Amedeo Cassina (1950).
ParagraphPhoto middel: Ponti designed Cristalli pattern on fabric
ParagraphPhoto right: Ponti designed Cristalli pattern on fabric

The Bijenkorf Department store in Eindhoven

In 1964 the management of the Bijenkorf presented Gio Ponti as the architect for the Bijenkorf branch in Eindhoven. Ponti was initially approached for advice, but he turned out to be willing to supply the design himself. De Bijenkorf was looking for an architect with a broad and global world view, who was able to design a representative building ('fashionable house of nouveautés'). The result in 1669: a high-profile modernity. Especially at night, when all those angular shapes are illuminated, it is the master builder's ode to the city of lights.

ParagraphPhoto: Bijenkorf Eindhoven designed by Gio Ponti