Gio Ponti - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Paolo Piccione, Gio Ponti: Le navi, Il progetto degli interni navali 1948-1953, Viareggio, 2007, pp. 98-101
    Ugo La Pietra, ed., Gio Ponti, New York, 2009, p. 203, fig. 436

  • Catalogue Essay

    The interior design of ocean liners played an important role in Gio Ponti’s diverse career while also helping define mid-century Italian style. In the interwar period, ocean liners emerged as wellsprings of modern design and luxury lifestyle, and the status of the ocean liner as the primary mode of stylish international travel continued into the 1950s. These magnificent technological vessels were ideal canvases for designers and architects to showcase their most progressive designs. Ponti recognised the significance of ocean-liner design early on. In a Domus article from 1931 called 'Naval Furnishings Today and Tomorrow,' he expounded his belief that the design in ocean liners should represent the pinnacle of a nation’s progress as a civilisation. Thus, he felt that ocean liners provided an ideal platform to expose the world to Italian design. Ponti also promoted his philosophy that modern design should embrace simplicity and quality, an enlightened stance at odds with the then current trend in ship interiors toward ostentation.

    Ponti’s engagement with ship design continued into the postwar period by participating in a major initiative to refurbish and reconstruct Italy’s great ocean liners from before the war. Not only did this effort assist the rehabilitation of the Italian economy, but it contributed to the rise of Italian design in the 1950s. Ponti, along with Nino Zoncada, oversaw the interior design of the Italian Line, a fleet that included the marvelous Giulio Cesare. The pair of chairs in the present lot, designed for the ballroom of the Giulio Cesare, epitomise Ponti’s continued devotion to a purified form and quality craftsmanship. International reception of the ship confirms the extent that Ponti encouraged the emerging view toward Italy as a pioneer in modern design. Reporting on the launch of the ship in 1950, The New York Times stated, 'The furnishings of the Giulio Cesare will make her one of the most luxurious liners afloat.'

  • Artist Biography

    Gio Ponti

    Italian • 1891 - 1979

    Among the most prolific talents to grace twentieth-century design, Gio Ponti defied categorization. Though trained as an architect, he made major contributions to the decorative arts, designing in such disparate materials as ceramics, glass, wood and metal. A gale force of interdisciplinary creativity, Ponti embraced new materials like plastic and aluminum but employed traditional materials such as marble and wood in original, unconventional ways.

    In the industrial realm, he designed buildings, cars, machinery and appliances — notably, the La Cornuta espresso machine for La Pavoni — and founded the ADI (Industrial Designer Association). Among the most special works by Gio Ponti are those that he made in collaboration with master craftsmen such as the cabinetmaker Giordano Chiesa, the illustrator Piero Fornasetti and the enamellist Paolo de Poli.

    View More Works


Pair of armchairs, model no. 533, designed for the ballroom of the Giulio Cesare transatlantic ocean liner

circa 1950
Beech, brass, fabric.
Each: 83.8 x 69.9 x 74.9 cm. (32 7/8 x 27 1/2 x 29 1/2 in.)
Manufactured by Cassina, Meda, Italy. Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Gio Ponti Archives circa 1950.

HK$90,000 - 120,000 

Sold for HK$250,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016