Archive for October, 2018

Design | Everything Ponti

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Pirelli Tower,
Milan,
1960
© DR



Tutto Ponti,
Gio Ponti Archi-Designer
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Paris | France
19 October 2018 >
10 February 2019



Living Room at Villa
Planchart, Caracas, 1957
Photo Antoine Baralhe.
Fondation Anala
et Armando Planchart



In Italian, Gio Ponti’s surname, means, appropriately, ‘bridges’. Over the course of a career that spanned more than 50 years, during which time he became the most important and influential designer/architect in Italy, his talents traversed everything from glassware design to ceramics; he created chairs, lighting, fabrics and cutlery, screenplays for cinema, as well as stage sets and costumes for La Scala. He established his architecture practice in 1921 and built private villas in Paris (1926), Eindhoven and Caracas (Villa Planchart 1953 > 1957), company headquarters, such as Milan’s landmark Pirelli Tower (1957) – at 127 metres, Europe’s tallest building at the time, that was a symbol of Italy’s post-war ‘miracolo’ reconstruction period – and public buildings, including Taranto cathedral (1970) in southern Italy and the Denver Art Museum (1974).

La Cornuta coffee
machine for Pavoni, 1948
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Glass lamp 0024, 1933
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Superleggera 699,
for Cassina, 1957
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Drawing his earliest influences from the Venetian villas of Andrea Palladio, Ponti celebrated the machine but, unlike many 20th century modernists, never rejected classicism and craftsmanship. In collaboration with his protogeé, Piero Fornasetti, he took pleasure in creating decorated furniture designs flouting modernist conventions that dictated the abolition of applied ornament. An enemy of dogma, whose work never conformed to any particular ‘ism’, Ponti’s tenet was that styles corrupt and [if we conform to them] our ideas become corrupt themselves.

His design and architecture became synonymous with Italian ‘cool’ of the 1950s and 1960s. He was the designer behind Pavoni’s iconic La Cornuta coffee machine (1948) that would dominate the bars of cafés throughout Italy, in London and in New York, where customers might also find themselves sitting on one of his Superleggera – ‘super-light’ – chairs (1957).

Taranto cathedral,
1964 > 1970
Photo Luca Massari



While Gio Ponti’s work is admired today by enlightened design enthusiasts and highly coveted by collectors it remains little known in France. Despite the big Gio Ponti exhibition held at London’s Design Museum in 2002, the situation in the UK is similar. Including some 400 items, as its title suggests, Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti Archi-Designer at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, is a major retrospective exhibition, bridging every aspect of Ponti’s multi-faceted career, with the aim of introducing the wider public to the work of this creative genius of the Italian design scene.

All images courtesy Musée des Arts Décoratifs


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Exhibitions| Café Pop Revisited

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Snack bar at the
Spiegel Cafeteria
Verner Panton was
commissioned to
design in 1968.

Photo Bernhardi /
Spiegel Verlag, 2011



68. Pop and Protest
Museum für Kunst
& Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
18 October > 17 March 2019



1968. Soviet tanks roll into Prague, Martin Luther King Jnr and Robert Kennedy are assassinated, riots explode on the streets of Paris. As Anti-Vietnam war protests burgeon in the US and civil unrest ushers in a state of emergency in Northern Ireland, Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine – one of Europe’s largest and most influential publications with a moral authority based on many years of vigorous investigative journalism – commissions a Pop Art cafeteria.

Fifty years on, in 2018, we’re in the midst of another era of tremendous political upheaval and uncertainty in which the central aspects of our liberal and democratic way of life – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to democratic participation, gender and racial equality – are under threat. But whereas, currently, any prospect of hope seems absent, 1968 overflowed with it.

Colour Proof –
Red Flag, 1968,
Gerd Conradt (b 1941)
16mm film still.
© Gerd Conradt,
Mandala Vision



Twiggy, 1966,
by Ronald Traeger
© Tessa Traeger



Donna UP5 armchair
with Bambino UP6
(prototype), 1969,
designed by
Gaetano
Pesce (b 1939)

Photo © manufacturer,
Cassina & Busnelli



In the late 1960s, international protests gave impetus to emerging revolutionary ideas that it was generally felt – especially amongst the young – were capable of changing the world for the better. Critical discourse and public debate flourished and imaginative ways of rising up against conservative, authoritarian structures were developed that promoted sexual freedom and demanded equality for all. Avant-garde forms of expression in all artistic disciplines – progressive music, unconventional fashion and uninhibited design, controversial theatre, and socially critical cinema – blossomed and were all utilised as non-violent methods of bringing about change.

Che Guevara, 1968,
Gert Wiescher (b 1944)
Offset print.
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn



Orange dining room,
Spiegel Canteen,
1969, designed
by Verner Panton

Photo Bernhardi /
Spiegel Verlag, 2011



It was in this spirit of optimism and willingness to challenge accepted norms that in 1968 the Der Spiegel publishing house decided to react against the strict rigidity of the Bauhaus-style architecture of its then headquarters building by commissioning Danish designer, Verner Panton (1926 >1998), to create what turned out to be one of the most radical and unconventional interiors Germany had ever seen. The cafeteria was only part of a bigger story – though none of these survived Der Spiegel’s move to a brand new building in 2011 – Panton also designed the building’s entrance area with its courtyard and lobby, employees’ swimming pool in the basement, the editorial conference rooms and lounges, as well as the colour schemes for the hallways of the administration areas.

This year, however, having been dismantled and installed at the Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg in 2014, Panton’s wildly-colourful cafeteria, with its harmonious geometric forms and flowing, atmospheric transitions, where world events and political scandals were mulled over, discussed and debated for almost five decades, is the centre-piece of the forthcoming exhibition 68. Pop and Protest.

All images from the exhibition, 68. Pop and Protest, courtesy Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, gardens and anything else that currently interests us that we think might interest you

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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