Celebrating Ponti in Paris

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ARGUABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT FIGURE OF mid-twentieth-century Italian architecture and design, and certainly the most famous, Gio Ponti will be honored with a retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris this fall. The exhibition Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti Archi-Designer, on view from October 19 through February 10, 2019, is the first major Ponti show in France, where, according to the museum, his work is relatively unknown—although he designed products for French silver company Christofle, and built his first residence outside Italy there: L’Ange Volant, a chateau inspired by Palladio on the outskirts of Paris.

The Superleggera chair, 1957, manufactured by Cassina, and a table, 1953, manufactured by Giordano Chiesa, both designed by Ponti. © GIO PONTI ARCHIVES, MILAN

The exhibition covers all six decades of his work from 1921 through 1978, and will include more than five hundred pieces, some of which have never before left their place of origin. On view will be porcelains for Italian ceramics firm Richard Ginori, glass for Venini, and iconic Ponti works such as the La Cornuta coffee machine and the Superleggera chair. While five hundred is a big number, it represents just a small portion of his output. According to Alice Rawsthorn, writing in the New York Times, his designs number in the tens of thousands. Ponti created products for 120 companies, and as an architect built in thirteen countries, including the US, where his Denver Art Museum is currently undergoing a $150 million facelift overseen by Machado Silvetti and Fentress Architects. As a cofounder and editor of Domus magazine—a pulpit for his promotion of Italian design and designers such as Carlo Scarpa and Piero Fornasetti—he produced 560 issues and wrote at least one article for each.

Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento, Italy, designed by Ponti, 1960. © GIO PONTI ARCHIVES

Ponti’s designs for furniture, lighting, and textiles, as well as architectural projects, will be represented in drawings, models, photographs, and films. On the Rue de Rivoli side of the museum, six discrete spaces will be dedicated to display items related to some of his greatest projects, including Milan’s Montecatini office building; the monumental frescoes he created for the Palazzo del Bo in Padua, the historical seat of that city’s university since around 1493; Ponti’s own Milan home on the via Dezza; and the interiors for the Parco dei Principi hotel in Sorrento. The show was designed by Wilmotte Associés with graphics by Italo Lupi.

On the same day the Ponti show opens, the museum will also unveil the complete reorganization of its contemporary design collection—some 22,000 square feet of space in a completely new presentation—featuring objects dating from the 1940s to today.

Concattedrale Gran Madre di Dio, in Taranto, Italy, designed by Ponti, 1964–1967, and completed in 1970. © GIO PONTI ARCHIVES

More than a thousand works will be on display, including designs by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Philippe Starck, Jasper Morrison, Zaha Hadid, and Iris van Herpen, among many others. Modern design lovers might want to consider planning a trip to Paris this fall.

Table service designed by Ponti and produced by Franco Pozzi, 1967. MARCO AROSIO COLLECTION / © WRIGHT