Gio Ponti

Designer Milan / Italy

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Gio Ponti
Gio Ponti

Those were the words with which Gio Ponti (1891-1979) began the 1957 collection of essays he published in Italian as Amate L'Architettura, and in English as In Praise of Achitecture. Ponti's spirit shines through his writing - joyful, generous and brimful of briò - as it did in all his work. Gio Ponti played many roles in his long career: architect, industrial designer, craftsman, poet, painter, journalist and, above all, passionate propagandist for design excellence. Everything he did was imbued with the exuberance of Amate L'Architettura and intended to encourage everyone to use good design as a means of enjoying la dolce vita - the colourful, sensual Italian good life. Although Ponti remained productive throughout the 1960s and 1970s - notably by building the 1964 San Francesco Church and 1967 San Carlo Chapel in Milan, and the 1972 Denver Art Museum - he was perceived as an architect and designer whose heyday was in the 1940s and 1950s. By the end of his life in the late 1970s, Ponti was too frail even for the short walk from his home to his studio, but carried on firing off dozens of daily letters and swapped the beloved Citroën DS he had driven for years for a 12-seater Fiat minibus in the hope of conversing with friends while travelling around Milan.