Video: How Italy Conquered the World with Beauty: The Godfather Masterpieces of Italian Design by Gio Ponti
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Today Italy does not leave the pages of news portals because of the coronavirus, it is worth remembering other episodes of its history, much more optimistic. After dark days, this country experienced new Renaissances every time. And at the head of one of them was the architect Gio Ponti - a man who showed after the catastrophe of World War II that Italy is capable of conquering the whole world with beauty. The "Godfather" of Italian design …
The name Gio Ponti can be called on a par with the artists of the Renaissance - he combined many talents. Poet, artist, designer, publisher, sculptor, teacher … He embodied his abilities in many areas, but at first he was educated as an architect and was truly in love with architecture - modern and ancient Roman, Renaissance and medieval. He said that architecture is the stage in which the spectacle of our life takes place.
From childhood, he was surrounded by beauty. Born in Milan at the end of the 19th century, he absorbed the atmosphere of the Middle Ages that lurked in the corners of this ancient city. He was fascinated by the thought that all this - narrow streets, houses, mosaics and statues, skillfully woven lace and wooden carving - could outlive its creators, owners, and their descendants … Through the years he carried his love for everything handicraft and did not forget turn to traditional technologies in many of their interior projects.
He graduated from the Milan Polytechnic Institute - later it was there that he would begin to nurture young talents. But first there was … the war. There was a career in the pontoon corps, military awards, then - work at a ceramic factory, which did not bring satisfaction … After the First World War, young artists strove to create a new world, pure, beautiful, revived by art. And Ponti was looking for his own path to renewal. His eclectic projects, executed on the verge between classical seriousness and mild irony, were a success. For Richard-Ginori, he created several art objects inspired by the legends of witches. Soon enough, he became the creative director of the Richard-Ginori factory and in seven years brought the enterprise to a leading position in the ceramics market (Ponti had a rare talent for an artist - to turn everything he undertook into gold). But that was not enough.
In 1928, Ponti, together with his friend, the journalist Ugo Ogetti, organized the Domus magazine, which later became a cult among architects. At the same time, he returned to architectural design and began experimenting with civilian housing, incorporating modular systems and open-space ideas into typical Milanese homes. However, while in the Weimar Republic and the USSR, modernists practiced creating minimalist interiors, combining glass and bent metal tubes, and throwing traditional forms "from the ship of modernity", Ponti was looking for the use of those images of Italian art that fascinated him from childhood. Thus, combining the innovative and the familiar, paying particular attention to the ergonomics and quality of the material, Ponti created a truly Italian design.
The movement to "modernize" traditional Italian architecture was called "novecento" - by analogy with the periods of the development of art in the era of the Italian Renaissance. He retained bright colors, complex combinations of textures, vivid imagery and illustrativeness in the design in the years when modernist designers declared war on ornament.
After World War II, Italy seemed to be in ruins. And then it was time for Ponti to disperse in full force. He was already well-known - his own company since 1932 provided the Italian middle class with high-quality and beautiful lamps, his magazine was read by students of architecture departments … After the war, it was his revolutionary projects and careful production consulting that allowed the Italian industry to make an incredible leap forward and overcome the post-war crisis. He created incredibly light chairs that seemed massive at first glance, luxurious armchairs available to everyone, modular cabinets and china sets, glass containers for many companies and lamps that are still produced today …
But Italy needed a new "face", a new architectural look. This is how the modernist Pirelli Tower was born - the first skyscraper in Italy. In fact, Ponti designed the steel tower that was to outshine the Eiffel's creation back in 1933, but Mussolini banned its construction. The pinnacle of Ponti's creativity was, perhaps, the openwork church of San Francesco. The architect was inspired by medieval Italian architecture, but rejected its heavy weight, making the construction lighter. Villam, which was built by Ponti, he gave female names. Serena, Flavia, Julia … Julia was his favorite name. Ponty was incredibly prolific. He designed buildings for six decades (one hundred and twenty projects in several countries around the world!), Taught and read public lectures for a quarter of a century, devoted fifty years to publishing magazines, wrote two thousand articles … from all the joys of life. But Ponti did not need this - he was very successful in his personal sphere. After university, he met the love of his life, Julia Vimerkatti, became the father of four children and the grandfather of eight grandchildren.
Ponti was not widely spoken about in the 70s, when rebellious groups of young designers tired of "good design" appeared on the scene, but until the end of his life he remained one of the most influential people in Italian industry and architecture. He left the world he loved selflessly in 1979 at the age of eighty-seven. Gio Ponti remained in history not only as a great creator, but also as a man who returned Italy to the status of a “country of high art”. Thanks to him, the phrase "Made in Italy" has become synonymous with high quality and impeccable style.
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