The Man Who Designed Everything: Gio Ponti

Italian architect and designer, Gio Ponti, 1955

Gio Ponti, who died in 1979 at the age of 87, was also one of the most influential Italian architect and designer of the 20th century. Ponti designed everything – from coffee to cutlery, sewing machines to sofas, every piece stamped with his unique style of Italian modernism. As the founder and editor of Domus magazine and conjuror of lifestyle dreams, you might even say that he made Italian design. The Pirelli Tower designed by him still soars above his native Milan.

Pirelli Tower, Milan. The Pirelli Tower is one of the earliest examples of modern skyscrapers in Italy. Affectionately called “Il Pirellone” (The Big Pirelli), the 127 meter tower stood as Italy’s tallest building from 1958 to 1995. The design of the structure featured a tapered plan, as opposed to the conventional rectilinear volume which encouraged greater creative freedom during a time when skyscrapers typically lacked experimentation.
Gio Ponti’s architectural masterpieces include the Villa Arreaza (1956) in Caracas. CreditGio Ponti Archives

Summing up his varied career has always been tricky. As a designer, he worked for a hundred and twenty companies. As an architect, he built in thirteen countries. As a magazine editor, he produced five hundred and sixty issues and wrote at least one article for each one. As an academic, he lectured all over the world. He also found time to paint, write poetry, and in later life, mentor younger designers, including Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass, who were at the forefront of the 1970s post-modernist movement, which was emerging as an alternative to Ponti’s modernism.

Selected Design Works of Gio Ponti

Dressing table and stool, 1940s
Coffee table, circa 1950
Bergere armchair, 1950
Lounge chair, 1954
Walnut dining table, circa 1959
Dormitio chair, 1950s
Chandelier, circa 1960s
Bilia lamp, 1970-79
Apta” Drop Leaf Table, 1970-1979

Gio Ponti in Modern Homes

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