GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
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GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
4 More
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal.… Read more Ponti In The Domestic Realm: A RediscoveryBy the late 1940s, Gio Ponti undertook a vast number of interior design commissions that were exclusively limited to furniture elements, which often meant dispensing with an all-encompassing environment. Technological innovations transformed the building industry while living conditions changed, facilitating residential mobility. Architects and designers of fixtures, fittings and furniture produced objects that were no longer tied to a specific context.This recently discovered private commission brings to light more of Ponti's deft handling of the demands emerging with the new situation. This was the time when he ran both large and small-scale architectural projects with a tireless drive to experiment that generated flexible matrices adaptable to fundamentally different domestic conditions, even in large-scale housing developments. This autonomous approach offered his clients, of varying socio-economic backgrounds a chance to experience and inhabit a Ponti realm, regardless of the different costs levels.In this commission, the scope of which is limited to the reception and dining room of a Milan apartment, Ponti relies on his most trusted manufacturers: Cassina for the upholstered pieces and Giordano Chiesa for the dining chairs and all other unique designs. In one instance Ponti selects Cassina production chairs and customises them with brass sabots on every leg, to achieve a smart and minimal result. Ponti's choices also include model 803 chairs, the diamond profile low chair with a matching settee variation and the elongated winged armchair 820 for the reception room. Meanwhile he entrusted all the custom pieces to his faithful ebanista, Giordano Chiesa, who devised with elegant solutions at every turn. His supreme skill at interpreting Ponti’s project is evident in two custom pieces with subtle shadow lines around the various parts of both the long credenza and the circular dining table. The credenza has a striking salient quality with its gently bowed centre underlined by a shadowed outer frame profile. Ponti's postitivo/negativo method is clearly demonstrated in the central open shelf, a rectangular void that functions as a visual counterpoint to the six triangular pierced brass legs. The table design suggests separations along the circular geometries of the top and base, which impart a weightlessness to the overall form.The Arlecchino lattice coffee table (1955), is now seen as one of his most iconic designs, along with the Altamira desk (1954), and Superleggera chair (1957). This compelling work reveals Ponti as the "painter" he had wanted to be in his youth. Echoing in three dimensions the painterly approach of De Stijl artists Mondrian and van Doesburg, he relies on a structural grid in enamelled metal that allows for four different colour combinations, depending on vantage points. This mercurial design is the anchor for the entire program. It provides focus and cohesive force to the many distinct elements of this domestic realm that include a range of wall treatments, a suspended mirror, cantilevered shelves, and window coverings using a stylised sun pattern that Ponti titled Soli.These complex yet streamlined furniture forms neatly fold into his large scale architectural projects of the period. In fact, these underlying schemes between inner design and outer architecture are highly compatible. Indeed, they are essential components of the “Ponti look“ that came to define this prolific period in his career and exemplified his theoretical manifestos on design, such as his concept of the "fitted house".Brian KishCurator and Specialist in 20th century Italian architecture and design. Since 2006 he has been an associate member of the Gio Ponti Archives.PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, MILAN
GIO PONTI (1891-1979)

A rare 'Arlecchino' coffee table, executed for a private commission, Milan, circa 1956

GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
A rare 'Arlecchino' coffee table, executed for a private commission, Milan, circa 1956
painted brass, brass, glass, rubber
executed by Giordano Chiesa, Milan, Italy
14 ½ x 32 in. diameter ( 37.5 x 81.5 cm.)
Private collection, Milan, circa 1956;
Thence by descent;
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Other examples illustrated:
'Mostra a Villa Olmo', Domus, no. 335, October 1957, p. 43;
G. Ponti, 'Una casa a pareti apribili', Domus, no. 334, September 1957, pp. 22-24;
A. Branzi, M. De Lucchi, Il Design Italiano Degli Anni ’50, Milan, 1985, p. 149, fig. 465;
Gio Ponti, Arte Applicata, exh. Cat., Centro Internazionale di Brera, Milan, 1987, p. 24, no. 145;
L. Licitra Ponti, Gio Ponti: The Complete Work 1923-1978, London, 1990, p. 194;
I. de Guttry, M.P. Maino, Il Mobile Italiano Degli Anni '40 e '50, Bari, 1992, p. 62, fig. 43;
U. La Pietra, Gio Ponti: L’arte si innamora dell’industria, Milan, 2009, p. 250, fig. 525, p. 252, fig. 531;
L. Falconi, Gio Ponti, Interiors, Objects, Drawings 1920-1976, Milan, 2010, pp. 186, 247-48;
S. Bouihet-Dumas, D. Forest, S. Licitra, Gio Ponti Archi-Designer, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2018, pp. 168, 203.
Special notice
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

The investigation of chromatic and geometric interplay proved an enduring motivation for Ponti and was most thoroughly explored in his seminal interiors of the 1950s. Crucial amongst these were Villa Planchart, Caracas, (1953-1957), the Italian Cultural Institute, Stockholm, (1952-1958), and Ponti’s own residence on via Dezza, Milan, (1956-1957). All revealed interior schemes treated with defined palettes and bold geometries to both floor and wall, and to the complementary furnishings and textiles. The employment of grid-like structures was already a feature of Ponti’s furniture designs by the 1930s, however it was the with the brief and limited bespoke production of painted metal Arlecchino tables of the mid-1950s that Ponti was to transpose palette and form to elegant, supreme effect. Two variations of Arlecchino table were developed. A variation supplied to the Villa Planchart featured a taller perimeter wall more aligned with Ponti’s wooden lattice tables of the 1940s. The present example, thinner-walled and exquisitely hand-crafted by Giordano Chiesa from straps of brass, is of the type Ponti selected for use in his own home on via Dezza (illustrated). A period photograph of the 1957 Liberty & Co. exhibition in London reveals another example, possibly Ponti’s own. Another example, the brass legs later black-painted, was exhibited at the recent Gio Ponti retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. On the present lot four chromatic palettes are painted to the flanks of the internal lattice, increasing to eight depending on the vantage of the spectator. Preserved in excellent original condition, and retaining the original security glass top, the recent rediscovery of this important and rare example presents a unique opportunity for engagement.

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