Posts tagged Italian architect
Ico Parisi, Extraordinary Icon of Italian Design

Although trained as an architect, Domenico “Ico” Parisi (1916 – 1996) was very much a renaissance man, and intensely interested in all forms of art. Not wanting to be labeled just as an industrial designer, painter, photographer or installation artist, he participated in all these forms, as well as in architecture in his more than fifty years’ creative life. Together with his wife Luisa, Ico Parisi created many classic pieces of design, and their look was the epitome of Modern Italian style in the 1950s.

Kidney shaped sofa, 1950

Born in Palermo, Italy to an art teacher father, Parisi lived almost his entire life in Como, Italy, a lakeside resort town. His worldview however, was anything but provincial. He was drawn to Como at a young age because of progressive architects based in the region, including Pietro Lingeri and Gianni Mantero, from whom Parisi hoped to learn. He began his knowledge of building at the age of 15 by training in construction in Como, after which he worked at the office of architect Giuseppe Terragni—pioneer of Italian Modernism--also in Como. During a stint in filmmaking in the mid 1930s he worked on such experimental films as Como + Como + Como (1937) and Risanamento Edilizio della Citta di Como (Structural rehabilitation of the city of Como, 1939). In 1937 Parisi was involved in the design of the colonial exhibition in the Villa Olmo in Como, along with Giovanni Galfetti, Silvio Longhi, and Fulvio Cappelletti. Parisi was drafted into military service in 1940 in the role of Pontonnier , an officer in charge of bridge equipment and construction of pontoon bridges, and served in France, Yugoslavia and Russia.Ico Parisi eventually returned to architecture. He was founding member of the Gruppo Como and Alta Quota (which included Galfetti, Longhi and Cappelletti), where he met his future wife, Luisa Aiani. Luisa was a protégée of Gio Ponti. They married in 1947 and in April 1948 they together formed La Ruota (“the wheel”), a studio where the pair worked alongside each other creating their most famous pieces—among them, the Model 813 Uovo (Egg) Chair for Cassina (1951). Their friend Ponti was inspired to write of the design: “My dear, your egg chair is a marvel. You are a master, and all that is left for me is to retire and live in Civate in oblivion.”

Model 813 Uovo (Egg) Chair for Cassina (1951) 
The Parisis’ Model 839 Chair

La Ruota became known as a meeting place for artist–designer friends such as Lucio Fontana, Bruno Munari, Franscesco Somaini, Mario Radice, and Fausto Melotti. One resulting collaborative project was the Pavilion for the tenth Trienalle di Milano, completed in partnership with architects Silvio Longhi and Luigi Antonietti: its reinforced walls of concrete and glass formed a spiral-shaped room. Parisi believed in the integration of design, fine art, and architecture. One such space which embodies this synthesis is Casa Bolgiana in Como, a house that manifests the sculptural, built in furniture of lacquered woods, curved silhouettes, abstract paintings and ceramic plates designed by his friends.

   Casa Parisi

Clients whom the Parisi’s worked for included Altamira, Cassina, Longhi and Singer and Sons. Parisi also worked independently from Luisa, designing ceramics, glass, jewelry, furniture (primarily in metal and wood), and on architecture projects, some of which included the State Library of Milan and the interior of the 1948 Triennial Journalism Exhibition, working alongside painters and sculptors such as Umberto Milani, Melotti and Radice. Other famous designs attributed to Parisi are the Model 691 Chair (1955) as well as the Model 839. Not content with his level of knowledge, Parisi continued studying architecture after he opened La Ruota, studying in Lausanne, Switzerland under Alberto Sartoris at the Institute Atheneum from 1949 through 1952, and from whom he adopted the idea that architecture should renounce all useless, superfluous elements and that harmonious color and line are supreme. In 1956 Ico Parisi joined the Italian Associazione per il Disegno Industriale. After the 1960s he changed his approach from one of elegance to radical and experimental. His three family residences along Lake Como became increasingly avant-garde, filled with futuristic designs for production. 

Ico Parisi in the 1960s  

In later years (1972), Parisi worked with art critics Restany and Crispolti on projects that fused architecture and art, among them Ipotesi per a Casa Esistenziale (hypothesis for a house to survive), and an exhibition at the 1978 Bienalle di Venezia. Moving into the 1980s, he focused on jewelry, satirical objects, and bizarre, site-specific installations such as cars dipped in concrete, the documenta urbana in Kassel in 1982 and also the exhibition Les années 50 1988 in the Center Pompidou in Paris. Almost ten years later in Milan was dedicated his first solo exhibition, entitled Ico Parisi: l'Officina del possible.Ico Parisi died in Como in 1996, preceded by his wife Luisa in 1990.                                     

Gio Ponti, an Enduring Legend

"[The majority of the objects in our lives are created and characterised by industry [...]". Thus spoke Gio Ponti (1891 – 1979), one of the most important architects, designers and essayists of the twentieth century. Gio PontiBorn in Milan in 1891 to Enrico Ponti and Giovanna Rigonere, Giovanni (“Gio”) Ponti served in WWI as a captain in the Pontonier Corps, for which he received the Italian Military Cross and Bronze Medal. After his military service he attended Politecnico di Milano University, where he received a degree in Architecture in 1921. The same year he married Giulia Vimercati.Ponti began his career in partnership with Emilio Lancia and Mino Fiocchi, working with the pair from 1923 through 1927, and was greatly influenced by the neoclassical Novecento Italian movement. Indeed, his career took him far beyond the return to neoclassicism. In 1923 he debuted publicly at the Biennial Exhibition of the Decorative Arts in Monza. Gio Ponti created, in addition to the architectural works that bear his unmistakable stamp, a vast amount of work in the furniture sector, and was a promoter of Italian industrial design who introduced the idea of "sophisticated," economic, "democratic" to modern furnishings. This is demonstrated in the "expression" of his home design ideas in his three Milanese houses-- fully furnished in the "Ponti" style: via Randaccio, 1925, Casa Laporte in via Brin, 1926 and the last in via Dezza, in 1957. During this time period he also designed Bouilhet villa in Garches, Paris (1926) and Monument to the Fallen in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio with Novecento architect Giovanni Muzio. The Casa Rasini apartment blocks in Milan and the Domus Julia–Domus Fausta complex on via Letizia, followed. During roughly the same period, he worked at Manifattura Ceramica Richard Ginori, involving some major Italian artists of the time, including sculptor Salvatore Saponaro; Ponti’s involvement in creating majolica vases, porcelain, and sanitary ware (sinks and toilets) revolutionized the company’s entire output.Geo Ponti embodied the very definition of “prolific”, and sought a merging of expressiveness and uniformity. He worked for Cassina designing an angular armchair "Distex", the very famous 1957 "Superleggera" (Superlight) chair, which was very strong but also so light that it could be lifted up by a child using just one finger—and the very famous "Due Foglie" sofa. He also created a line of furnishings, Domus Nova, for the Italian Rinascente department stores, glass bottles for Vitra, Reed and Barton flatware, as well as lamps for Artemide and Fontana Arte. The most famous of these is the “Billia”, whose silhouette remains as fresh today as it did in 1931.Sofa, 1954Ending his partnership in 1933 with Fiocchi and continuing on with Lancia, at a later juncture he teamed up with engineers Antonio Fornaroli and Eugenio Soncini to form Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Soncini, whose first commission was the headquarters of Montecatini, an Italian chemical firm (1936). Several other university and industrial commissions followed, including offices for Fiat, the School of Mathematics at the University of Rome and the Palazzo del Liviano at the University of Padua, Ponti himself painting the frescoes for that commission. 1950 brought the win of a commission to design Milan’s 32 story Pirelli Tower, in collaboration with Arturo Danusso and Pier Luigi Nervi (for which construction began in 1956), and in 1951 the IINA l'Istituto Nazionale per le Assicurazione housing project in Milan. In 1952 he created yet another collaborative partnership with architects Alberto Rosselli and Alberto Fornarelli, known as Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Rosselli, (1952 – 1976), an association which continued on with Fornaroli after Rosselli’s death.Ponti engaged in hotel design as well, one commission being the Hotel della Città et de la Ville and the Centro Studi Fondazione Livio e Maria Garzanti, in Forlì, Italy (1953 – 1957), and another, the Parco dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento (1960 - 1962). International attention came thereafter, garnering Ponti commissions in Caracas, Venezuela (Villa Planchart), Baghdad, Hong Kong, the Milanese churches San Francesco , the church at Ospedale San Carlo (1967) and the Taranto Cathedral (1971).Concattedrale Gran Madre di Dio, Taranto Italy       Pirelli Tower, Milan      Gio Ponti desk from Pirelli TowerIn 1928 he founded Domus magazine, and later, Stile, which he edited until 1948. After a hiatus from Domus from 1941 – 1948, he returned there and remained editor until his death. From 1936 to 1961 he worked as a professor on the permanent staff of the Faculty of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano University. In 1934 in Stockholm he was bestowed the title of “Commander” of the Royal Order of Vasa a Swedish order of chivalry, the Accademia d’Italia prize, the gold medal from the Paris Academie de Architecture, as well as an honorary Doctorate from the London Royal College of Art. His furnishings for Molteni & Company were exhibited at the Salone del Mobile 2012.“The most resistant element is not wood, is not stone, is not steel, is not glass. The most resistant element in building is art. Lets make something very beautiful. “Gio Ponti died at the age of 87 In Milan, Italy.D.153.1 "Distex"armchair, exhibited at the Salon de Mobile, 2012SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave