credit Molteni & C
words Thomas Wilson
After a rigorous two-year selection process, Molteni&C have reissued seven pieces of furniture by one of the godfathers of novecento design, Gio Ponti (1891-1979). The project entailed a close inspection of drawings, photographs and films from the Ponti archives, focusing on works originally intended for Ponti’s home or for small-series production. The chosen items were then prototyped to decide which of the maestro’s designs were best-suited to contemporary manufacturing techniques.
The final selection, which comprises works predominantly designed during the 1950s, highlights Ponti’s fondness for elegant structural supports, bold patterns and colour. The hand-painted lattice grid of the Tavolino coffee table changes appearance depending on the angle from which it is viewed, lending the piece a graphic character that belies its slender frame. Meanwhile, wood – including Italian walnut and rosewood – take centre stage in the Cassettone chest of drawers. Used as drawer handles, the wooden blocks contrast with the stark white drawer fronts, but complement the unit’s warm, satin brass feet.
Ponti’s textiles have also been incorporated into the project – the Poltrona armchair of 1953 is available in his patterned fabric designs, as well as its original blue and white leather, for the first time. Seductively low and full of swooping parts, the armchair can be seen in the many photographs of Ponti’s Milanese home that were consulted during the development process.
This attempt at recreating the Ponti domestic environment culminated in Living alla Ponti at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. The installation displays the relaunched furniture alongside rarely seen photographs of his home and studio, and issues of the magazine Domus, of which he was the founding editor.
It has since reached the Victoria & Albert Museum, marking the first London display of some of these works since a 1957 show at Liberty. Meanwhile, the Molteni&C collection has toured Helsinki, with Valencia and Luxembourg to follow.