Milan Homes of Legendary Architect Gio Ponti
Gio Ponti is the biggest and most-recognized architect in the design pool of mid-century Milan. He is known as a prolific polymathic architect who produced ceramics, skyscrapers, doorknobs and design magazines from the 1920s to 70s. He is known as an architect, academic, designer, artist, and editor. In essence, Gio Ponti is an icon of 20th-century Italian modernism who has a highly significant influence on Milan – his hometown.
Some of the most prominent works of architect Gio Ponti are the three Milan homes he built for his family. These homes showcase the purest distillation of Gio Ponti’s design, and his radical 20th century architectural and furniture ideas.
Compared to other of Ponti’s works which he did for his extravagant clients, his personal Milan homes are smaller in proportions and quite modest.
This book presents a collection of the works of architecture designed by Gio Ponti in Milan between 1925 and 1971. There are around forty buildings. Apart from a few works that have undergone radical alterations, these houses, churches, and offices have been left as they were, a delightful heritage for the Milanese who have been living and working in them or just looking at them for almost a century. The book contains a map of Milan with all Pontis buildings. (Available on Amazon, $34.00)
Via Randaccio 9
Completed in 1925, this home is the first Ponti built for his family, and amazingly, it is also his first commission as an architect. This home is in Via Randaccio, and it is a villa, which is further divided into apartments.
This house is designed as a peanut-sized Palladian monument. It has an impressive concave façade which includes obelisks, a fan-shaped plan, and a suite of rooms which appears to be without corridors. It also has a unique staircase which Ponti designed to be viewed even from below.
Home in Via Benedetto Brin 12
As said earlier, the house in Via Randaccio was Ponti’s first home and first-ever architectural commission. So, it was in this second home in Via Benedetto Brin that Ponti’s modernistic decorative arts tendencies became quite prominent. This home eventually became Ponti’s blueprint for his modern living ideas. In fact, right from the geometric exterior of this home, Ponti’s hearty move into the modernistic lifestyle is quite apparent.
However, he lived with his family (wife Giulia and his four children) between the years of 1936-1943 that his bold modern ideas gained momentum.
Ponti threw away the standard Milanese traditions of extremely formal dining rooms which had stiff high-backed chairs. In this home, he introduced an easy system of low coffee tables paired with upholstered armchairs. This relaxed and casual setting allowed for conversation and drinks to ease into dinner.
Other of Ponti’s modernistic innovations include fixing built-in bookshelves in all rooms, use of linoleum and hemp which were considered inferior materials. The living space in this house was also cut open, and the two-story ceiling is quite spacious. The gardens were glassed-in, and the transparent walls allowed light to come in. The house was designed to provide a fantastic view of Ponti Italy hometown.
Via Dezza 49
Gio Ponti moved in this home in 1957, and he created it as the culmination of all his works. According to legend, Ponti opened a working studio in the house. This was such a big space that his workers had to transport with scooters to their desks. Legend also has it that Ponti’s wife banned him from bringing work home.
This home features one of his greatest innovations – a plan with free space who could move up and close. The furniture in the house was designed with painted artwork, and shades of yellow and cream covered the entire home.
On the other hand, the exterior building features painted panels covered in shades of olive, brick, and saffron. The brick creates a color-block puzzle effect that further adds to the charm of the house.
This home was Gio Ponti’s last home where he lived, welcoming an electric combination of friends and collaborators who kept him up with work till 1979 when he died at 87.
Gio Ponti’s homes in Milan as well as his job in clients’ homes, even the Ponti hotel, reflect him as a true legend. Ponti designed every detail, from the exterior structure to the furniture placement in each room. He also had a hand in the decorative arts such as painted mirrors, and even minute details such as the kitchen tiles, toilet seats, and coffee pots. Feel free to drop your opinions about Gio Ponti’s designs here.
Are you interested in design? Discover Modern Milan and Design on a private tour with a local guide! Book here.
Via Randaccio 9
Via Benedetto Brin 12
Via Dezza 49
Article by Sophia Clark for MilanoStyle.com
Photos by Josuè Barone for MilanoStyle.com
About the author
Sophia Clark is an author with a passion for architectural designs, both American and Italian. She has written extensively on Gio Ponti’s work and modernism, and you can find some of her works posted here.