Gio Ponti, ‘Model Distex  ’, 1953, Gate 5 Gallery
Gio Ponti, ‘Model Distex  ’, 1953, Gate 5 Gallery

Domus 10/2008 n.918

The Distex model is the first in a series of armchairs designed by Ponti for Cassina. What strikes us immeditaley is the faeted side view of the seat and especially its lengthened lines, which express « the wish to break away from the kind of bourgeois seating position that was so widespread back then, in the early’50s, and encourage people to take on a ‘more lounge-like pose », as Marc Romanelli explains. First made in a version with closed sides and tapered wooden feet, then in a version with an exposed tubular metal structure (brass or lacquered) and open sides, Distex also breaks with the traditional idea of placing chairs against the wall and is a proposal for free positioning in an open domestic space, as indeed it was shown at the « Alloggio uniambientale » display of the 1954 Triennale, and at the Alitalia AIrline ticket office on New York’s Fifth Avenue, an exceptional interior design by Ponti.
The name that Ponti gave the chair (Distex is based on the verb « distendere », meaning « to stretch out », « to relax », and the ginal « x » represents a promise for the future) and the combination of fabrics and plastic upholstery (the boldest and most extravagant colours and prints) make this armchair one of the most innovative models of those years. Particularly interesting is this version covered with fabric designed by Gio Ponti and manufactured by Jsa Di Busto Arsizio in 1955. The collaboration between Gio Ponti and the Manufacture goes back to 1950. Arlecchino was the given name invented by Alberto Savinio for an armchair by Gio Ponti of the 40s upholstered with rhombus fabric, like the famous dress from the Commedia dell’Arte.

Manufacturer: Cassina

About Gio Ponti

It takes a native son to build something as iconic as the Pirelli Tower, Gio Ponti’s 1960 masterpiece that soars over Milan. In 1928, the prolific architect and designer founded Domus, the influential design magazine to which he would contribute for the rest of his life. Along with building projects like the elegant Villa Planchart in Caracas, Ponti designed a number of now-iconic products, including the lightweight Superleggera chair and the curvy La Pavoni coffee machine of 1948. He was an enthusiastic leader of the post-war reconstruction, and a major influence on younger designers including Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass. In 2011, his prolific and wide-ranging career was the subject of the exhibition “Expressions of Gio Ponti” at the Triennale Museum in Milan. "Love architecture, be it ancient or modern,” Ponti said. “Love it for its fantastic, adventurous and solemn creations; for its inventions; for the abstract, allusive and figurative forms that enchant our spirit and enrapture our thoughts. Love architecture, the stage and support of our lives."

Italian, 1891-1979