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Stylish Furniture: A History of Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti History Header

Gio Ponti was a famous Italian designer. He was born in 1891. There is not much written about his childhood, but he was able to attend college and he received a degree in architecture. He served as an officer in the Italian army in World War I and then began a job as the art director at a ceramics factory. He married Giulia Vimercati. They had four children together. He worked long days, staying at his studio from seven in the morning until eight at night. This allowed him to work on a variety of different projects and buildings.

  • About Italian Design – A short biography about Gio Ponti and his many accomplishments.
  • Design Museum – A short biography about the life of Gio Ponti. This includes a time line of his life.
  • In Praise of Architecture – This is a free download of the book by Gio Ponti.

While he was working at the ceramics factory he founded the magazine Domus, which examines architecture and art. He served as the chief editor of the magazine, and used it to share his viewpoints and beliefs with others. He continued to work on the magazine even he moved on to designing buildings. The works that are usually displayed in museums are a part of his industrial design lines. He designed furniture for department stores. He also designed bottles, lamps, chairs and ceramics. These pieces are on display in museums around the world. 

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – A picture of a vase Gio Ponti designed. It also includes an explanation of its significance.
  • Philadelphia Museum – Look at pictures of Ponti’s artwork that is on display in the Philadelphia museum.
  • Museum of Modern Art – This provides two images of his artwork and a short biography.
Denver Art Museum North Building

Gio Ponti Portrait

Gio Ponti also worked on architecture while he was designing other items. At the beginning of his career he designed a series of houses that fit in the architecture around them, but they had modern interiors. He helped to found the design firm Ponti-Fomaroli-Soncini. This design firm began to design some of the buildings that Ponti became famous for including the Pirelli Tower and the Palazzo del Liviano. The Pirelli Tower was the most famous building he designed, and only the second skyscraper built in Milan, Italy. It remained the tallest building in Milan until 2010. The Pirelli Tower managed to survive a small plane crashing into it in 2002. He designed buildings for locations all over the world. Some of these include the Denver Museum of Art North Building, the Villa Planchart (known as the Butterfly House), and the Church of San Francisco in Milan.

  • Bluffton University – Pirelli Tower photos and short discussion about how this design left the other designs of the time behind.
  • UNESCO – This provides the explanation of the restoration efforts of the Ponti building in Iraq.
  • University of Waterloo – This is a detailed photo gallery of the Denver Art Museum, which Ponti helped to design. This gallery is especially nice, because it looks at specific design elements that Ponti chose for the building.
  • Denver Art Museum (PDF) – This is a lesson plan designed around the North Building of the museum, which Ponti designed. It discusses his life and his problem solving process.
  • Domus – This is an architecture report done the style of photos Gio Ponti liked while he ran the magazine. He also helped to found the magazine.
Two Chairs Designed by Gio Ponti

In addition to designing the buildings and art, Ponti took the time to teach others. He was an architect professor at Politecnico de Milano University. He lectured in several countries and continued to influence others through the magazine Domus. He also edited the magazine Stile for a few years. He wrote “In Praise of Architecture,” in which he shared his viewpoints and beliefs of architectural design. He continued to design buildings up through the 1960s, even though many felt that he was the most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. In his later years, Ponti enjoyed spending time with his friends. He passed away in 1979. He is still well known for his architecture, but much of the focus has shifted to his industrial design pieces, which have become quite collectible.

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