Gio Ponti’s crystal dreams. An immersive experience of the visionary’s kaleidoscopic universe

154

Experience the boundless vision of one of the greatest architects, designers, and art directors of the 20th century. Shaped in close collaboration with the Gio Ponti Archives and its founder Salvatore Licitra, Gio Ponti is an immersive book scaled to his kaleidoscopic universe featuring texts by Lisa Licitra Ponti and an extensive biographical essay by Stefano Casciani.

This numbered Art Edition (No. 1–1,000) is accompanied by the “Planchart Coffee Table” – an exclusive, square format reproduction of the famous Arlecchino design, produced for TASCHEN by Molteni&C – and a set of four numbered prints of Ponti’s interior ocean liner studies.

Gio Ponti ’s crystal dreams

To study Gio Ponti’s prolific body of work is to appreciate the clear, unifying vision behind a complex creative universe. A synthesis of the arts, his creations expand intuitively with the Italian grandeur and studied lightness that defined his iconic style. Ponti’s rare capacity to move seamlessly between scales allowed him to approach the design of a teaspoon with the same conviction as he did an entire city. He was as much an architect and designer as he was a publisher, poet, and man. A treasure in its own regard, his contribution is also a distinctive landmark of Italy’s mid-century Renaissance and the modernist values it sought to realize.

This new book is the most comprehensive account of Ponti’s work to date, unprecedented in scale and scope. It tracks the development of his oeuvre over 6 decades, with 136 projects indexed and reproduced in high resolution, each object framed by the context in which Ponti had created it. Like windows onto his elusive life, unpublished materials and candid imagery create new dialogues between his famous masterpieces and his lesser-known feats. A rich layer of texts, featuring an extensive biographical essay by Stefano Casciani, was produced in close collaboration with the Gio Ponti Archives offering an intimate insight on his life’s work. Materializing Ponti’s core philosophy of modernity, this book presents architecture as a performing object, a “self-illuminating” stage for his humanistic art de vivre and boundless creativity.

Gio Ponti’s crystal dreams

The Arlecchino lattice coffee table is regarded as one of Gio Ponti’s most iconic designs. Echoing the pictorial approach of De Stijl artists Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, its surface relies on a vibrant structural grid for multiple color combinations that vary according to the viewer’s movement around the table. Contrary to the more commonly available round design, TASCHEN is proud to reissue the celebrated piece in a square format, originally created in 1954 as a unique example for Ponti’s Villa Planchart – the “Planchart Coffee Table”.

The four prints are drawings by Ponti from 1948–49 now conserved in the CSAC, an institution of Parma University to which the Ponti family entrusted a stupendous archive of original drawings. These are valuable, fragile, competition drawings for the interiors of the ocean liners Conte Grande and Conte Biancamano, which were both launched in 1949. They testify to Ponti’s efforts to create different spaces for these ships, each with its own very particular design. In Ponti’s mind, they were spaces invented to foster the elegant and contemplative atmosphere inherent to a luxury cruise accompanied by the best that the arts and most sophisticated craftsmen of Italy could offer.

Gio Ponti’s crystal dreams

The authors

Photographer, artist, and curator Salvatore Licitra created the “Gio Ponti Archives” in the studio of his grandfather Gio Ponti in 1996. Notable curated exhibitions are Gio Ponti Archi-Designer at the Museè des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, in 2018, and Gio Ponti: Loving Architecture at the MAXXI in Rome, in 2019.

Stefano Casciani is an Italian writer and designer. The innovative inspiration of his own work has been recognized with awards such as the Compasso d’Oro 2001. Managing Editor of Domus from 2000 to 2011, he has been Editor and Publisher of disegno magazine since 2012.

Widely known as a poet and artist, Lisa Licitra Ponti (1922–2019) flanked her father Gio Ponti at Domus, becoming Managing Editor until 1979, while also contributing to Stile. In 1990, she edited the important monograph: Gio Ponti. The Complete Work, 1923–1978.

Brian Kish is a 20th-century Italian architecture and design historian, with a focus on BBPR, Caccia Dominioni, Gardella, and Ponti. He curated, in 2001, the first US exhibition on Gio Ponti and wrote for both Entryways of Milan and Gio Ponti Archi-Designer (M.A.D. Paris).

Fabio Marino is an architectural historian and researcher at the Polytechnic of Milan. He investigates contemporary architecture and its connection to Italian Design of the 1950s and 1960s. He has coauthored various books on Italian Design.

The editor

Based in Berlin, freelance editor and art director Karl Kolbitz worked with Mario Testino and Wolfgang Tillmans for many years, before founding his own creative practice focusing on the development and design of publications, such as Entryways of Milan and Gio Ponti.

Gio Ponti. Art Edition
Edition of 1,000
Salvatore Licitra, Stefano Casciani, Lisa Licitra Ponti, Brian Kish, Fabio Marino, Karl Kolbitz
Hardcover, 36 x 36 cm, 572 pages; with an exclusive table designed by Gio Ponti, 56.5 x 56.5 x 38 cm; and four art prints, each 40 x 40 cm, printed on 305gsm Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth

© 2021 – TASCHEN