Gio Ponti: Archi-Designer

Silvana Editoriale. Apr. 2019. 312p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9788836641253. $75. ARCH.
Architect, industrial and furniture designer, graphic artist, and publisher, Giovanni Ponti (1891–1979) epitomized Italian modernity by endowing his work with lightness and formal clarity. In 1928, as cofounder of the journal Domus, he championed progressive architecture and interiors, influencing design at an international level. Best known perhaps for the slender Pirelli office tower in Milan (1956–60) and the reductivist Leggera chair (1951), Ponti also designed a streamlined sewing machine for Visetta in 1949 and a futuristic, hatchbacked automobile prototype, the Diamante, in 1954. Although his later buildings, such as the Denver Art Museum (1971), with their decorative, diamond-pointed, glazed, ceramic-tile surfaces, veer toward a campy mannerism, Ponti’s playful spirit is evident in everything from textile designs to colorful floor plans. Arranged by decade, this magnificently illustrated catalog, produced to accompany an exhibition at the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs, features four short and carefully documented essays that give readers a solid grounding in Ponti’s sources of inspiration and breadth of ambition. Full-page and double-spread images complement entries, several of which contain essays about individual designs. ­
VERDICT An important document of a protean talent that should be in all architecture and design collections.
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