Gio Ponti’s design for the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento has become part of the history of Italian architecture. The project involved the entire building and, in particular, in collaboration with Ceramica D’Agostino, a series of blue-and-white ceramic decorations transformed a hundred rooms, together with the lobby, the reception area, the bar and the restaurant. The decorations consisted of “mathematical and geometric” combinations of a complete series of 27 patterns which, then as now, were reproduced by hand on 20 x 20 cm maiolica tiles.
“Gio Ponti: Infinite Blue”
February 10 – March 5, 2017
Palazzo della Triennale
Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6, Milano
The exhibition presents Gio Ponti’s original drawings, with all his production notes, and with photographs of the company workshop where the architect worked together with the craftsman and workers, and there is a display of original ceramics from the time. The event also allows visitors, after about 60 years, to see a faithful reproduction of the original 27 maiolica tiles, together with 5 decorations that were never used for the Parco dei Principi.
These have now been made for the first time by the master decorators of Ceramica Francesco De Maio, which in 1990 took over the former Ceramica D’Agostino, now Antiche Fornaci D’Agostino. As Ponti wrote about the Sorrento project, “give a person a square, measuring twenty by twenty and, over the centuries – even though everyone has indulged their whims with no end of patterns – there’ll always be room for a new design, for your design. There will never be a last design.”
This is where we find Ponti’s modernity: countless possibilities of design combinations, but on one condition: that everything should be made strictly by hand, because only like this can the pattern and the colour be regenerated without ever being depleted. Gio Ponti: Infinite Blue is not just an exhibition that recreates a special condition, for it shows that it is always possible to breathe new life into a concept or a design project, so long as the rule is always the same: “nothing that is not first in the hands”, for hands are the most direct expression of thought.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with essays by Colonetti, Gianni De Maio, Patrizia Famiglietti, Salvatore Licitra, Lisa Licitra Ponti, Fulvio Irace, Fabrizio Mautone and, in particular, a conversation with Gillo Dorfles. Dorfles was a friend of Gio Ponti, with whom he had ties for many years, especially when the latter was editor-in-chief of Domus.
Curated by Aldo Colonetti and Patrizia Famiglietti, with the collaboration of Salvatore Licitra. With the assistance of the Gio Ponti Archives and CSAC, University of Parma.