FontanaArte: the excellence and icons of Italian design in the 20th century

World-renowned company FontanaArte is preparing to celebrate almost a century of history. Ninety years that have allowed the company to acquire worldwide fame and become a symbol of Italian design. To celebrate this important anniversary, FontanaArte will organize several initiatives during the next Milan Design Week, to be held in Milan from 6 to 12 June 2022.

fontanaarte-90-anni.jpg
Bilia, designed by Gio Ponti, 1932

First of all, the historical archive will be presented. The history of FontanaArte coincides with the birth and diffusion of Italian design, thanks to Gio Ponti and his instinctive promotion of a new cultural unity in the industrial era. Even today, in the 21st century, the ‘Arte’ (art) that Ponti himself added to the company’s name is still the keynote of an identity that goes beyond the mass-produced product. That timeless spirit balancing art and industry is the same that inspires FontanaArte’s contemporary production.

fontanaarte-90-anni.jpg
Luminator, by Pietro Chiesa, 1933

Iconic products by FontanaArte, which turns 90

FontanaArte’s icons are so many that it is not easy to mention some of them without doing wrong to others. The company’s history is intertwined with that of brilliant creative people such as Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand and Gae Aulenti. In their role as artistic directors, they led the company and contributed to the birth of world-famous iconic projects. For 90 years, FontanaArte’s furnishings and lamps have contributed to creating an extraordinary domestic landscape. Bringing art into the home and entrusting glass to personify light, transparency and reflection, FontanaArte lamps influence everything around them.

fontanaarte-90-anni.jpg
1853 table lamp by Max Ingrand, 1954

The elegance of glass and industrial innovation

What distinguishes FontanaArte products, besides the use of glass, is the industrial innovation of some of the most famous icons in the history of design. Bilia, designed in 1932 by Gio Ponti, is an extraordinarily contemporary lamp. An inverted metal cone surmounted by a luminous glass sphere: two essential forms shape a simple and iconic object. In 1933, with new artistic director Pietro Chiesa, it was the turn of Luminator, a stem that opens upwards and diffuses a very modern indirect light.

fontanaarte-90-anni.jpg
Re lamp by Bobo Piccoli, 1968

Then, in 1954, with the arrival of Max Ingrand, the icon of the classic bedside lamp was reproposed in glass; very simple, minimalist, and yet with a strong and recognizable image. Until more recent times, with Uovo, by Ben Swildens, in 1972, and Scintilla system, by Piero and Livio Castiglioni, in the same year, halfway between a decorative lamp and a lighting system. Finally, since 1979, with Gae Aulenti, Fontana Arte has been expanding its product range with furnishing accessories. After 2000, there have been other artistic directors and owners, until today, with a still healthy company that represents the essence of Italian design.

Omai lamp by Max Ingrand, 1954