The MAG - 01.24

By Cristina Morozzi

"The retrospective dedicated to Gio Ponti by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, titled 'Everything Ponti, Gio Ponti ArchiDesigner,' running from October 19, 2018, to May 2019, marked the first such exhibition in France. Encompassing the entire body of work of the prolific Milanese architect-designer from 1921 to 1978, the exhibition highlights the diversity of his creations spanning architecture, industrial design, furniture, lighting, magazine creation, and forays into textiles, ceramics, glass, and silverware.

The choice of Paris for this exhibition is not coincidental, as one of Gio Ponti's nieces, Carlotta Borletti, married Tony Bouilhet, the owner of the French silverware brand Christofle. It was Gio Ponti himself who introduced Carlotta to Tony while she was in Paris studying French. Tony met Gio Ponti at the 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes,' where Ponti served as the artistic director for the Italian manufacturer Richard Ginori, responsible for the French section 'Art de la Table.'

Ponti designed an Italian-style house for Carlotta and Tony named 'L'Ange Volant.' The architecture, dating back to 1927, is Ponti's only work in France. According to Tony's eldest son, Ponti was a person of great sensitivity, amiable with those he liked and abrupt with those who wasted his time. Always with a pencil in hand, he spoke through his drawings. His desire to produce without distinction of scale is evident in over 500 exhibited pieces covering more than 1000 square meters, including household items like the Visetta sewing machine, the first coffee machine with a horizontal boiler called Cornuta for Pavoni, and table silver for Christofle.

Ponti's extensive portfolio includes designs for architecture, Domus magazine covers (which he invented and directed from 1928 to 1979), banks, offices, factories, monasteries, museums, shops, restaurants, hotels, clinics, power plants, machine rooms, pavilions, exhibition stands, mortuary chapels, exhibits, stage sets, costumes, porcelain for Richard Ginori, pewter and silver objects for Christofle, glass pieces and lamps for FontanaArte, tiles for D'Agostino ceramics, cutlery for Krupp Italia, handles for Sassi, electrical switches for Ave, wallpapers, embroidery designs on silk for the Cernobbio school, clocks for Boselli (Milan), designs for printed fabrics (De Angeli Frua), fabrics for Vittorio Ferrari, designs for textile coordinates for Zucchi, garden furniture, furnishings for Turri, sanitary appliances for Ideal Standard, the Superleggera chair for Cassina; a sofa bed for Arflex, the interiors of the Settebello train, a car for Alfa Romeo displayed at the Basel Motor Show in 1953. He collaborated on a cookbook titled 'La Cucina Elegante, ovvero il Quattro Uova' for 'Editoriale Domus'.... (Cristina Morozzi, 'Leonardo primo designer,' Hoepli, Milan, 2019).