Gio Ponti: Transatlantic Lounge Chairs

February 7, 2014

One of the most important Italian architects and industrial designers of the 20th century, Gio Ponti also applied his vision of Italian design to the transatlantic ocean liners that would represent a postwar Italy full of art, beauty, and history. In the upcoming February 23, 2014 Modern Art & Design Auction, Los Angeles Modern Auctions will offer two Lounge chairs from the First Class Ballroom of the Augustus.


Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lounge chair (1950), Gio Ponti

Ponti had a long history of creating designs for cruise lines in an age where ships were the primary mode of transportation from continent to continent. In the 1920s, shipping companies began hiring Italian designers to re-imagine the interiors of their most popular ships. Ponti was intensely interested in these new designs, so much that he regularly featured them in his architecture magazine, Domus.

Following World War II, as new materials such as aluminum, plastics, and tempered glass became available for ship building, Ponti championed the use of these materials under a unifying design principle. He wrote in Domus in 1950, “Architects should use their intelligence not to absurdly try to create a false impression of heaviness…but to enhance and emphasize a feeling of lightness.” Although Ponti never realized his dream of designing an ocean liner from stern to stern, he contributed numerous interiors full of furniture, ceramics, and art.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lounge chair (1950), Gio Ponti

Designed in 1950, these Ponti chairs from Cassina sat in the First Class Ballroom the Augustus, a futuristic and modern ship outfitted with work by Italy’s most contemporary designers, including Gustavo Pulitzer-Finale, Ugo Carra, and the lighting company Arte Luce.

These chairs are relics from the golden age of Italian travel. Ponti’s daughter wrote, “My father loved this idea…a future age of great slow-moving ships on which traveling would be more important than arriving.”

Lot Information:

Lot 196
Gio Ponti
Lounge chairs (2)
Designed 1950 for the First Class Ballroom of the transatlantic ocean liner Augustus
Each: 27″ x 29″ x 29″

Literature: Piccione, Paolo. Gio Ponti Le Navi: Il Progetto Degli Internivavali 1948-1953. Milan: Idea Books, 207. p 33.

Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000

For more information, or details on how to bid, please contact a LAMA representative.

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