GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
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GIO PONTI (1891-1979)


GIO PONTI (1891-1979)
Important Desk, circa 1949
manufactured by Dassi, Milan
mahogany, glass, brass
30 ½ in. (77.4 cm) high; 78 ½ in. (199.3 cm) wide; 34 ¾ in. (88.2 cm) deep
Giuseppe Romagnoli, director of Fontana Arte office, Torino, 1949
Private Collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Alex Heminway
Alex Heminway

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Lot Essay

This lot is offered together with a letter of expertise from Laura Falconi, a letter of expertise from Plinio Dassi, as well as a certificate of expertise from the Gio Ponti Archives

Ponti’s desk is not only a rarity (since only four were made for Luigi Fontana and Fontana Arte manager and four smaller ones for the secretaries) and not only a discovery that throws new light on the designer’s work and on a relatively unknown period. Its noble origins were identified after comparing structural solutions and details with other works by Ponti of the same period, by reconstructing the design process and finding reference sources. With the final discovery, like a 'coup de théâtre’, of a signed document in which a renowned clinician, son of the director of the Turin and Genoa headquarters at the time, identifies it as the desk on wich he played as a child during weekends in his father’s office.
The desk reflects and enclose the history of the Fontana Arte productions that anticipated by twenty years (it was founded in 1932) the birth of Italian design and it held a dominant position internationally. During the post-war economic crisis – with the decisive contribution of the Marshall plan for the recovery of Italian industry and arts – in its visionary and impressive grandeur the Fontana desk was conceived by Ponti as a trait d’union between a golden age and a future for the company no less ambitious in its aims, duly achieved. Albeit for some time not involved in manifacture, Ponti was to make a determinant contribution by suggesting the appointment of Max Ingrand as artistic director. The latter did not limit himself to creating lamps and iconic objects, for decades Fontana’s best sellers, but
followed the recent example of Pietro Chiesa he formed a real ‘school’ of design within the businnes. To the extent that it is now impossible to distinguish between the works of the master and tjose of the employeees without a detailed study of the archives of the period.
In conclusion, we have a made “to measure” object that superbly exemplifies an exceptional epic in Italian design. The historical output of Fontana Arte has ineradicably marked an era, expressing and passing down timeless forms and values. Is it no coincidence that American architects continue to place the period lamps and furniture from the famous factory in their interior decoration.
Laura Falconi, architect, former Professor (History of design) at the Faculty of Architecture “La Sapienza” in Rome. Author of numerous publications, including "Fontana Arte, A transparent history", Skira, Milan, 1998; "Gio Ponti, Interiors, objects, drawings, 1920-1976" (It. ed. 2004, English ed. 2010), Electa Mondadori, Milan; Piero De Martini, A design experience, 1970-2000", Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2017. She has also collaborated with public institutions, private enterprises, international auction houses and art galleries.”

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