Posts filed under Exhibitions

'The Value of Good Design' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

There are few days left to visit the Museum of Modern Art exhibition ‘The Value of Good Design’. This ongoing exhibition explores the concept of design and functionality through objects which have shaped our lives and continues to do so today although much more articulated than their predecessors.  More than 100 pieces are showcased on the third floor isle of the Moma, spanning from the 1930s to the 1970s, from Italy to Japan to Brazil. Some of these objects you might easily have owned: cars, telephones, vases, household appliances, textiles and furniture. To understand the exhibition one has to focus on the social and political situation following Word War I and II. People had a sense of positivity and faith in the future ahead, they were heading into a new phase and to do so they had to work harder and faster. This is what happened for example in post war Italy.  An economic boom led the people to a new faster paced life; people had to move from one place to another in a quick and comfortable way. The  Piaggio Vespa Scooter and the Fiat 500 were designed for the mass, an affordable and comfortable method of mobility. The economic boom pushed design to new challenges to satisfy the upgrading tenure of life for most Italians. Mass production and new more affordable and versatile materials such as plastic seemed to be the perfect challenge for creative minds to leave their contribute to society. We might very well remember Olivetti typewriters who made work so easy, or the new furniture created with industrial materials like polyurethane foam. 


Through the exhibition you will see common objects such as clocks kitchenware and telephones, and more luxurious ones like a high end Murano glass vase, you will see prototypes and technical drawings by the designers, short videos and interactive areas.  

But the exhibition is not focused only on Italian Design, quite the opposite. It spans through several different geographical areas because it looks for what the industry had to offer through several decades. It explores industrial design and that practical need of combine a functional product and aesthetic appeal by maintaining a certain affordability, it explores the huge experimental work which created a strong bond between the designer and the maker who was often the most pioneering and engaging in new eclectic ideas.


Through June 15th 2019

www.moma.org


Posted on May 23, 2019 and filed under Exhibitions.

Italy has a new museum: The Museum of 20th Century Italian Design

A new permanent collection opened it’s doors in Milan. Italy has finally it’s own museum of Italian Design. It seemed odd for a country whose creativity and mission to make beautiful things that were also functional and accessible to the average person and simplified the life of millions of people in the past 70 years did not have a proper representation. It is important for Mid Century dealers like us to have a place to gather, to research, to discover and maybe that place is shaping up right in our country. 

Today we can all admire the most representative works of Mid Century Italian design at the Triennale Museum in Milan, a permanent exhibition showcasing objects designed between the 1940s and the 1980s by the biggest Italian architects of the period. The selection includes furniture, household appliances, and small objects from the 20th Century, products made for every day use, and it represents only a small fraction of the 1600 pieces owned by the Triennale Milan.

The Italian Design Museum debuted on the occasion of Milano Design Week 2019. The project has been developed by  Stefano Boeri, President of the Triennale Milano under the artistic direction of Joseph Grima, and it is housed in the ground floor. We can’t wait to see it growing even more, as President Mr Boeri said the Triennale Museum's goal is to become “the leading international centre dedicated to Italian Deisign”. Whether it will be centered on Mid Century or Modern Design, we are very excited about the future. 20th Century Design deserves to play a major role considering its’ comeback and it’s easy integration with modern design, yet after more than 50 years has passed. 

This exhibition, is like a time capsule through objects which some might recognize as familiar, we picked quite a few we could have had at home at a certain point in our life. The memories are brought back through the objects themselves and through several supporting media such as old catalogs and paper ads; Furthermore, you can hear directly from the designers voices the ideas behind most objects; they will talk to the audience through ‘Grillo’ telephones (designed in 1965 by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper), if you can still remember how to dia the numbers! 

Through this exhibition you can really walk through time and see how differen materials and designs changed through the years, you can also discover the intimate relationship theses 20th Century designers shared with their products and their sponsors, the difficult tasks they had to overcome through a series of highs and lows and rights and wrongs, and you can finally smile looking at the finished products proudly showcased on the page of a design magazine of that period.   

Triennale Milano is housed by Palazzo dell’Arte in Viale Emilio Alemagna no. 6  You can find all of the information by visiting their website at 

www.triennale.org 

Gio Ponti at the Georgia Museum of Art: a new exhibition

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) and Paolo De Poli (Italian, 1905–1996) Horse, ca. 1956 Enameled copper and silver - Courtesy of Casati Gallery

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) and Paolo De Poli (Italian, 1905–1996)
Horse, ca. 1956
Enameled copper and silver - Courtesy of Casati Gallery

Giò Ponti in his studio, Via Dezza, Milan, 1950s. Courtesy:  Giò Ponti Archives .

Giò Ponti in his studio, Via Dezza, Milan, 1950s. Courtesy: Giò Ponti Archives.

The Georgia Museum of Art has just announced a new exhibition dedicated to one of the greatest designers of the 20th century – Gio Ponti.  The show, “Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design”, will present more than 50 objects borrowed from American museums and private collections, representing some of Ponti’s most outstanding pieces of furniture and decorative objects starting from the beginning of his career in the 1920s through the 1950s. The museum will also publish a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, the first major work in English on Ponti's career. 

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) Scrolled chair from the Contini Bonacossi residence, Florence, 1931 Made by Mario Quarti Italian walnut and leather Private collection

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979)
Scrolled chair from the Contini Bonacossi residence, Florence, 1931
Made by Mario Quarti
Italian walnut and leather
Private collection

Gio Ponti was much more than a designer of objects although he did begin his storied career collaborating with Richard Ginori, creating designs and motifs of classical inspiration through porcelain decorative art.   He became a designer and architect present on every continent, taught for 25 years at at the Faculty of Architecture in Milan, was the director of Design Domus magazine, creator of the famous Compasso D'Oro award, curator of the Triennale of Milan, and a painter. Essentially he was always ahead of his time and calling him a designer, when this word was not yet in vogue in his times, would seem too reductive.

 Ponti was an early proponent of industrial design when this concept was still in its infancy. His works are immediately recognizable by their‘weightless’ design and extreme functionality and yet imbued with a fundamental aesthetic and craftsmanship that he had refined in collaboration with the 20th century Italian master artisans – the aforementioned Richard Ginori and Fornasetti.   . And no work captures that ethos better than his quintessential masterpiece- the Pirelli skyscraper, the first skyscraper in Italy and an ode to simplicity distributed over 32 floors (1956).

Above all, for Italy, he was the first true cultural promoter of Italian aesthetic throughout the world. Architecture, design and art are the foundations of this great artist, inspired by the great movements of the twentieth and nineteenth century, Futurism, Impressionism and , as Gio Ponti himself said, classical music.

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) Display cabinet, model 2140, 1951 Made by Singer & Sons Italian walnut, lacquered wood and brass 79 x 81 x 18 inches Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Museum purchase funded by the John R. Eckel Jr. Foundation, 2016.145.A-B

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979)
Display cabinet, model 2140, 1951
Made by Singer & Sons
Italian walnut, lacquered wood and brass 79 x 81 x 18 inches
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Museum purchase funded by the John R. Eckel Jr. Foundation, 2016.145.A-B

Observing historical images of Ponti at 85 years old, coming down from his apartment in Milan to work at his architecture studio means witnessing the enthusiasm of a man who looked to the future and who conceived modern architecture as a form of functional art whose purpose was to service the community, a man who believed that perfect architecture has yet to be designed. His was a continuous search for the ultimate concept of the ‘Italian abode’, which in his view would have to be a ‘living’ and versatile environment, adaptable to the constant changes of a modern person’s life but, above all, exempt from any functional space constraint and non essential form. As a matter of fact his home in Milan was the perfect representation of his ideas : a series of spaces divided into different interchangeable rooms where there should have been no set bedroom, living room or dining room area but a modular ever-changing simple space. He said that one should boast of the simplicity of one’s own home because that is where you find your peace. He also created the "Finestra Arredata" where glass windows were equipped with shelves and modular elements so they could be functioning as windows as well as usable room walls. 

Among the furnishing objects he designed, we cannot help but recall the "Leggera Chair" and later the Superleggera manufactured by Cassina and still in production today, or the "La sedia di Poco Sedile" a chair with a shallow seat and a wide, comfortable, backrest. And of course, the Pavoni coffee machine, the Venini lamps, Ginori pottery and Fornasetti furniture and all his amazing buildings around the world. 

 

EXHIBIT INFO:

Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design

JUNE 10, 2017 - SEPTEMBER 17, 2017

http://georgiamuseum.org/art/exhibitions/upcoming/gio-ponti-20th-century-renaissance-designer

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) Desk, 1938 Fruitwood, reverse-painted glass, and brass 31 x 53 x 26 1/2 inches Private collection

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979)
Desk, 1938
Fruitwood, reverse-painted glass, and brass 31 x 53 x 26 1/2 inches
Private collection

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) Desk from the Societa Vetrocoke Building, Milan, ca. 1939 Vitrex glass, laminate, Italian walnut, enameled steel and brass

Giò Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979)
Desk from the Societa Vetrocoke Building, Milan, ca. 1939
Vitrex glass, laminate, Italian walnut, enameled steel and brass

20th Century Italian Design part 1: history defines a new movement

We are not surprised that Italian design has reached the highest level of popularity worldwide. We all looking to embellish our homes with wonderful Italian furniture which we stare at, standing fiercely in those beautiful showroom or printed over some of the most popular magazines. It is not anymore perceived as a trend, but more likely as a movement.  And 20th Century Design has made a sharp and impressive come back, with Italian 20th Century Furniture leading the market. As of today, a Beautiful Carlo Mollino wardrobe desktitled “ Psiche Armadio “  is for sale at a famous New York Auction house starting at 250,000$. 

Carlo Mollino "Psiche Armadio" from the Ada and Cesare Minola House, Turin, Circa 1944-46

But how far back Italian design dates? We could historically place the beginning of Italian Design somewhat immediately after a long and dark period, which saw Italy bending on its knees in the middle of the 20th Century: World Wars. It all started because of the Wars. Italy had lost almost everything, but not it’s citizens’ pride, citizens could not wait to start over and fuel back that fire which always had defined them, impatiently looking at a more profitable second half of the 20th Century. Italians needed to get back to work, to open their stores once again, to lead a normal life and to hope for a brighter future. 

The first sign of Design becoming an active part of society had something to do with mobility. In 1945 we were gifted with the first project of a motor scooter, the evergreen Vespa, designed by Corradino D’Ascanio, still an icon in our modern days. But the Vespa was not an isolated great project, because two years later a new exciting product was conceived, this time designed by two aeronautical engineers: the Lambretta scooter by Innocenti. Transportation and mobility also saw the creation of the beautiful and iconic Fiat 500 reflecting how Italian Design may become timeless, and not many remember another interesting project which we can call a predecessor of the Smart, the captivating Isetta compact car by Ermenegildo Preti.  Among other projects we must mention the Berlinetta Cisitalia which will be then permanently exhibited at the Moma Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1958 Olivetti who created some of the most technologically engineered aesthetically appealing typewriters such as Letters 22 and Lexicon 80 started a collaboration with Ettore Sottsass. So we have a clear picture on how industry, engineering, architecture were all united into the process of creating new ideas. 

Vespa Motor Scooter 

This need of a new start brought Italy years of economic wealth and the Design set its root into the field of Industrial Design with the creation of mass production affordable and reusable every day objects, made of plastic and other low cost materials. Architects and Engineers were again involved in creating every day objects, from cutlery to furniture for the mass.

 

But when does Italian Design became recognized internationally? We could see its peak in 1972 when the Museum of Modern Art in New York dedicated a whole exhibition named “Italy: the new domestic landscape” . The preface of the catalog started with this sentence: It has been a long -standing assumption of the modern movement that if all man’s products were well designed, harmony and joy would emerge eternally triumphant". Can we still affirm such idea 43 years later?

to be continued on chapter two...stay tuned!