Maria Vittoria Capitanucci, an architecture historian and critic with a particular interest in the relationship between design and art, tells us in an exclusive interview about the extraordinary work of architect Gio Ponti, whose many projects demonstrate his cultured professionalism. With a degree from Politecnico di Milano, where she teaches contemporary architecture history, Capitanucci has always been particularly interested in the cultural affairs of the fascist era, when figures such as Gio Ponti took their place in the firmament of cultivated architecture. Over the years she has also conducted academic studies and research and published volumes about the ‘heroic’ years of reconstruction in Europe, with a particular focus on Lombardy and Milan. In this sense the figure of Gio Ponti represents and exemplary case of cultivated professionalism, capable of combining the different aspects of post-war architecture while acting as a trade-d’union between early rationalists such as Terragni and Lingeri and the ‘barons in the trees’ of the younger generation, not strictly linked with a specific movement, such as the great Gardella, Caccia Dominioni, Magistretti and BBPR, as well as Asnago and Vender, the Latises and the Soncinis. Without barriers between disciplines, ranging from architecture, such as the building that has come to symbolise Milan, the Pirelli tower, to scenery and costumes for la Scala, from ship interiors to furnishings and from ceramics to fabrics, opening up the path to quality industrial design in Italy. Eclectic and versatile, Gio Ponti experimented with all the disciplines involving the world of design between the 20s and the 70s. His early adventures with ceramics and porcelain (he began his career with Richard Ginori), his important experience with theatre designing costumes for La Scala, the milestone in the world of publishing marked when he established the sector’s most important magazine, Domus, in 1928, and of course his years of experimentation and creativity in architecture and design, as well as poetry and painting, formed the great master’s cultural baggage.

Maria Vittoria Capitanucci’s words take us back to the architect’s love of and interest in the truly “noble” material that is ceramic and the applications and works of art this love produced, examples of his versatile work which still have a contemporary flavour today.

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