What is trending in Design?
The simple answer is Mid-Century Modern. However, styles are constantly evolving. What was once more popular has fallen out of favor over time, and now certain design elements are moving into the forefront.
Lately, there is increasing interest in Italian Modern. There are several Italian designers that are currently in high demand. These include Gio Ponti, and Ico and Luisa Parisi. These designers created objects across genres such as furniture, jewelry, glassware and sculpture.
Today we begin with Gio Ponti.
At the start of his career in the 1920s he was the artistic director at the Richard Ginori ceramics factory. During his time at Richard Ginori, he created beautifully designed pieces that were also mass produced and widely accessible. Many of his porcelains at this time were decorated in the Novecento style, featuring Neoclassical style decoration. At this time he was also designing furniture for the La Rinascente department store, including both widely affordable and accessible pieces, as well as higher end items. Ponti contributed an important tenant to the Novecento movement in Milan, which was the idea of “casa all’italiana,” the Italian house. Generally, the goal was to create homes that combined the Classical past with the present. To learn more about the Novecento period in Italy, here’s an interesting link to the Tate Modern.
Formally trained in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, Ponti was a prolific architect. He designed his first building, his own home, in Milan in 1925 on Via Randaccio. Ponti would continue to sketch 20,000 architectural drawings and build over 100 buildings throughout his career.
Ponti was also a strong promoter of Italian Design, and began the design journal Domus, which is Latin for house. This title hearkened back to ancient Rome, where the house was an escape from public life. Appropriately, Ponti’s first editorial in the magazine was titled “Casa all’italiana.” The editorial included a drawing of a Latin predecessor. Ponti sought to honor Italy’s Classical past, by bringing Neoclassical elements into the Modern home. Unlike Le Corbusier, a French architect and contemporary of Ponti, who believed that “Une maison est une machine-à-habiter” (a house is machine for living in), Ponti’s architectural designs revolved around comfort and luxury.
In the 1930s, Ponti severed as artistic co-director at Fontana Arte, along with Pietro Chiesa. Another well-known collaboration was with Piero Fornasetti in the late 1940s and 1950s. It was in 1957 that Ponti designed the iconic Superleggera chair for Cassina, a form which remains quite popular today.
Along with Gio Ponti, the design team of Ico and Louisa Parisi led the Italian Design movement in the 1950s (Louisa was a former student of Gio Ponti). The Parisi’s designed over 150 interiors. Their firm La Ruota was incredibly successful, and their organic and sinuous designs were quickly adopted by design firms such as Cassina and Singer Sons. Classic designs by the team include the model number 1116 coffee table for Singer and Sons, New York.
The furniture designs of both Gio Ponti and Ico Parisi are linked by the shapeliness of their forms. The sinuous designs of the pieces are highlighted by slender silhouettes. These minimalist portions are trending in a pared back and simple approach to interior design.
To learn more about contemporary furniture check out our recent blog post: The Art of Furniture.