I travelled widely in Japan and the details reflect the influence of that world. And since the competition was anonymous, the jury presumed that I was a Japanese designer, while I was actually from Basel!”.
Molteni&C is re-examining its own history with an eye to the future. The 80!Molteni exhibition, the creation of the company’s historical archive and its recently inaugurated Molteni Museum have provided an opportunity for revival, from the origins of modernity.
Official hashtag: #MolteniHeritageCollection
Great new classics
Intriguing traces have emerged from a past that turns out to be contemporary, ripe for a re-think today. Unique pieces that can step straight out of their museum showcases and into our contemporary homes.
The prototype of the first item of modern furniture ever produced by Molteni&C, the chest of drawers designed by Werner Blaser in 1955, is available again in a limited and numbered edition of 100 pieces, made of avodiré wood just like the original. Never produced on an industrial scale, it won the Cantù “Prima mostra selettiva - Concorso internazionale del mobile”, a competition designed to re-qualify the image of Italian furniture making. The jury included Gio Ponti, Alvar Aalto, Romano Barocchi, Carlo De Carli and Finn Juhl.
The second piece dates to a few years later, 1959. Again competing in the Selettiva, it won third place. This time, the jury included Luigi Caccia Dominioni and the designer really was Japanese, from Tokyo, Yasuhiko Itoh. His bookcase is a prototype made of bent wood, a complex procedure for that time.
Designed by Gio Ponti and produced for Altamira, an American company founded by the nephew of the Spaniard De Cuevas, was displayed in the company’s showroom in New York, along with furniture by Ico Parisi, Franco Albini, Carlo De Carli, Ignazio Gardella and others, chosen from among the most representative exhibitors at the 10th Milan Triennale.
“It was thought that architecture should be purely functional, with very little margin for decoration. But the Italian genius could not help but create architecture with a more human face, which we call the Latin touch”
Always passionate about nautical furnishings, Gio Ponti gained direct experience in four ocean liners and two cruise ships upgraded or built from scratch after the war, between 1949 and 1951: the Conte Grande, Africa, Oceania, Conte Biancamano, Andrea Doria and Giulio Cesare. Ponti designed this easy chair with slight variants for these ships.
The Plancharts commissioned Gio Ponti to design their home, on top of a cerro overlooking Caracas. For them, refined art collectors and Italy lovers, Ponti designed everything, from the structure to the furniture. This armchair is a shell to accommodate precious friends. It is a sculpture among sculptures and an art work among the art works.
"I am grateful to Anala and Armando Planchart for letting me honour their home with Italian art works, alongside the works of Venezuelan and international abstract artists and those of the great Venezuelan master Reveron (...). These range from Morandi paintings to those of Campigli, Melotti and Rui, the Venini and Seguso glasses, Gambone ceramics, and Ferrari silks..."
Gio Ponti, Domus 1961
The armchair, on the other hand, was designed for one of the projects closest to Gio Ponti’s heart, the villa of the Planchart collectors in Caracas (1953-57). It is part of the Gio Ponti Collection, which was curated by Molteni&C under the artistic direction of Studio Cerri & Associati.
The best designs are timeless and this revisited edition respects that, by renovating and reviving the project’s soul. New technologies, materials, functional solutions, with respect for its original – exactly as Gio Ponti would have wanted.
Designed in the 1950s for M. Singer&Sons, one of the most important furnishing companies in New York, this small table is part of a collection for the American market. The combination of different shapes and materials testifies to Gio Ponti’s diversity and innovative power.
"Recreating pieces that were never produced, (because Ponti used to design more than what he could have produced) or re-editing forgotten pieces, gives us the opportunity to better understand his personality, work and role in an important moment of Italian architecture"
Salvatore Licitra, Gio Ponti Archivist
The drawer unit designed in different variations between 1952 and 1955, is based on the original drawings kept by the Gio Ponti Archives. The art direction of this new edition was entrusted to Studio Cerri & Associati.
Molteni&C proposes the forms of the objects Gio Ponti designed and built for his house in Via Dezze in Milan. His small table, library, and armchair show that there was no gap between his personal appeals and his architectural vision. This is living according to Ponti.
Designed in 1956-1957, the bookcase is part of the furniture of Gio Ponti’s private house in Via Dezza in Milan.
This re-edition is produced based on the original drawings from the Gio Ponti Archives. It is part of the Molteni&C Gio Ponti Collection.
"To be comfortably seated while crossing your legs, little sitting and much backrest, tilted just like this, are necessary."
Molteni&C re-launches folding chairs designed by Gio Ponti in 1970 with a new and surprising look.
“And here is the new wide chair with a narrow and foldable seat”. So wrote Gio Ponti in 1970 when describing the launch of a chair that differed from all the others. A chair for conversation, reading a book or watching TV. Minimal overall dimensions, versatile, movable.
"The metal tube chair and table have an absolute original form, clearly distinguished from any of the traditional frames. They have a new practicality and elasticity, closer to the modern essential requirements. At the same time, their series-construction, can guarantee their form’s absolute perfection of beauty, in absolute conformity to the first model created by the artist."
Gio Ponti, Domus, 1939
"The modern architect, the academic architect, should learn from the craftsmen: marble workers (shiny surfaces, polished, stone hammered, bush-hammered, and scaled), carpenters, stucco workers, blacksmiths, from all the workers and craftsmen (that is so beautiful)"
Gio Ponti, Amate l’architettura