Modernist Designers Series / Gio Ponti

Can you believe it’s been nearly 70-80 years since the Modernist movement started? It was around the 1940s that designers and architects first embraced this style, but it wasn’t called “modernism” just yet.

Design’s shift toward clean lines, minimalism, and natural materiality took hold in interiors, furniture, ceramics, and architecture. Although each designer had his or her own unique approach, these were the features that characterized modern design over the following thirty years.

This year, we’re sharing twelve of the top masters behind this major movement — one for every month of 2019. First up:

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Giovanni (Gio) Ponti (1891-1979)
Italy
Architect, Designer, Artist

Gio Ponti was born in Milan in the late 1800s and is credited as being the most influential Italian designer of his time. Although he studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, his professional career began as the artistic director of the ceramics company, Richard Ginori.

There, his initial work was influenced by classicism until 1925, when he transitioned to the Art Deco and Modernist styles.

In these years, Ponti coined “forma finita,” his theory that a design is complete when nothing can be added or taken away. You can see evidence of this concept in his furniture lines, where vestiges of Art Deco’s geometric forms pave the way for modern simplicity. The resulting creative “lightness” of design is uniquely Ponti.

His other notable accomplishments include founding the still-circulating architecture and design magazine Domus in 1928, as well as designing the iconic Pirelli Tower in Milan. He is still widely revered in the industry today — we saw his work on exhibit in Paris just last November!

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Superleggera chair design for Cassina, 1957

Superleggera chair design for Cassina, 1957

Bureau Giordano Chiesa, 1953

Bureau Giordano Chiesa, 1953

Console collaboration, Gio Ponti and Paolo de Poli, 1942

Console collaboration, Gio Ponti and Paolo de Poli, 1942

Ocean Liner Armchair, Heritage Collection, 1951

Ocean Liner Armchair, Heritage Collection, 1951

Dezza armchair, 1965  (   source   )

Dezza armchair, 1965 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in February…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modernist designer in the comments below!

Before + After / Mission Bay Penthouse

What would you do when confronted with a nondescript white box of a condo? For our MIssion Bay Penthouse project, we transformed said condo with bold color and pattern! It’s amazing how wallpaper and paint can completely change a space and imbue personality. Read on for a few dramatic before and afters and make sure to check out the link at the bottom for all the photos from this project!

BEFORE: The living room

BEFORE: The living room

AFTER: We kept the walls white in the living room due to the plentiful sunlight, and brought in color through the furnishings.

AFTER: We kept the walls white in the living room due to the plentiful sunlight, and brought in color through the furnishings.

The only walls kept white in the condo were in the living room and kitchen! The dark entry is painted in burgundy and transitions into this bright living space filled with natural sunlight. The colorful theme is found in the furnishings instead.

BEFORE: the master bedroom

BEFORE: the master bedroom

AFTER: Blues and grays create a calm and peaceful retreat in the master bedroom.

AFTER: Blues and grays create a calm and peaceful retreat in the master bedroom.

The master bedroom is a peaceful retreat with its blue and gray color theme, and subtle yet dramatic hand-painted wallpaper. We love how the painted and wallpapered walls make the room feel bigger than before when the room had white walls.

BEFORE: The guest bedroom

BEFORE: The guest bedroom

AFTER: We created a moody guest bedroom with Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paint and a patterned wallpaper.

AFTER: We created a moody guest bedroom with Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paint and a patterned wallpaper.

Our client’s favorite room is possibly this moody guest bedroom with elephant motif wallpaper. The contrast of the blue and yellow makes the furnishings pop, and this is a great example of how dark colors don’t make rooms feel depressing or small!

Learn more about the project in the recent Domino Magazine feature!

Which room transformation was your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!

Pro Tip / Paris for Design Lovers

Hot on the heels of our Thanksgiving trip to Paris, we bring you our guide to Paris for design lovers! Here we feature some of our favorite places in Paris - some more well-known, others lesser known - but all places full of inspiration.

Exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo

Exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo

PALAIS DE TOKYO

If you’re someone who doesn’t “get” contemporary art, this is THE contemporary art museum for you. Palais de Tokyo hosts some of the most interesting and beautiful contemporary art exhibits that at times cross disciplines into nature, science, and social commentary. Case in point - currently on view is “ON AIR” by the Argentinian artist Tomås Saraceno which explores human and non-human ecosystems and interdepencies in haunting, poetic ways. The exhibit begins with a large dark room with spot-lit intricate spider webs that make you stop and wonder, goes into space and particles, and ends with an interactive audio and physical installation that encourages play.

Monsieur Bleu

Monsieur Bleu

MONSIEUR BLEU

While you’re at Palais de Tokyo, you might as well stop by the delicious and stunningly luxurious yet understated Monsieur Bleu. Designed by the French architect and interior designer Joseph Dirand (one of our favorites), the restaurant is a beautiful experience from the service to the food to the interiors. You won’t find many tourists here either. Reservations are recommended.

Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment

Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment

LE CORBUSIER’S STUDIO-APARTMENT

For any architecture enthusiast, Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment is a must-see and located just west of central Paris near Bois De Boulogne. While Le Corbusier is a major figure in modern architecture, he actually started out as a painter and continued to paint throughout his life. His studio-apartment, where he lived for over 30 years, is fascinating as a work in progress where he experimented with painting, furniture, and architecture. Reservations required.

Merci

Merci

MERCI

While Colette, the original retail concept store, is no longer with us, there is still Merci, located in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. This charming lifestyle shop is approachable and unpretentious, selling everything from charcoal soap to Marni to used books. The best part? 100 percent of the profits go to a charitable foundation dedicated to helping women and children in Madagascar, but you’d never know it because they keep it on the down low.

The modern & contemporary wing at Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The modern & contemporary wing at Musée des Arts Décoratifs

MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS

An often overlooked museum whose primary location is right next to the Tuileries Garden and Louvre Museum, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is dedicated to beautiful, useful things throughout history. We love their exhibits on furniture and fashion design, and currently on view is an exhaustive retrospective of the influential 20th century architect and designer Gio Ponti - the first held in France.

These are just five of our current favorite spots in Paris. We’d love to hear where you go for inspiration - share with us in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes / 5 Questions with Heather Rosenman Ceramics

Heather Rosenman’s Leto Series displayed in her dining room   (image source  )

Heather Rosenman’s Leto Series displayed in her dining room (image source)

Heather Rosenman first appeared on our radar with her Leto series of ceramic works that stopped us in our tracks with their strong geometric forms, at once evoking both the ancient and modern. So when it came to planning our trip to Los Angeles in October, we immediately scheduled a visit to her studio in east LA. Heather was warm, gracious, and open, and we can’t wait to incorporate her stunning pieces into our interior design projects. Read on to learn more about Heather’s work and inspiration and view scenes from her studio.

Rosenman’s office where you can see evidence of her former life as a graphic designer

Rosenman’s office where you can see evidence of her former life as a graphic designer

Works in progress in the studio

Works in progress in the studio

Q: What is your background?

A: I'm originally from New York. I received a BFA from The Cooper Union, working in design firms along the way. I then attended the Basel School of Design in Switzerland for graduate work. Then to Amsterdam working for Total Design, a Dutch design firm. I returned to New York and worked in branding and identity when in 1992, was transferred to Los Angeles to open a Branding satellite office. After years as creative director I escaped the corporate world to throw some mud.

Q: How did you get started in ceramics after a career in graphic design?

A: My husband gave me a wheel as a gift. I had no experience but he confidently said, “I think you're going to like this.” It changed my life. With a deep appreciation of art history, form, space, engineering, architecture, even typography and logo design, the transition to ceramics was rapturous.

Cannabis-friendly, graphic experiments inspired by  Isamu Noguchi’s playgrounds

Cannabis-friendly, graphic experiments inspired by Isamu Noguchi’s playgrounds

More experiments

More experiments

Q: What is the common thread, if any, that can be seen throughout your designs?

A: A deep appreciation of ancient forms/relics, ceramics, modern art and the history of design.  I’m driven to combine a primitive aesthetic with modern sensibilities.

I've had a long running theme that continues to develop my Leto series. I look to Cycladic figures of carved marble, which were brilliantly painted - the Cyclades Grecian islands were rich in minerals. They were weathered and bleached by the sun to a magnificent white. They originated from 3200 to 2700 BC and yet they are stunningly modern and simplified.

Cuneiform is my inspiration for the Scribe series. Cuneiform is one of the earliest systems of writing- it is a strikingly graphic glyph-like communication. My linear designs are like a language, mathematical equations or calendars of my life.

I'm also fascinated with machines and engineering. My wonder portals and contraptions are made to feel like artifacts of machines that have not yet been invented. Just as archaeologists unearth dilapidated tools and used deductive and inductive reasoning to understand their functions, these forms invite us to explore the future from a similar point of view.

Inspiration on display in the studio

Inspiration on display in the studio

Glaze color samples

Glaze color samples

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?

A: Continue developing designs and reach to other mediums. In February 2019, I am launching a textile collection for Kerry Joyce Textiles based on my ceramic surface designs (that Kerry and I created in collaboration). Available at Kneedler Fauchere [a local to-the-trade showroom].

Completed works

Completed works

The studio kiln in its own shed

The studio kiln in its own shed

Q: What motto do you try to live by?

A: The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Ceramic outdoor mobiles

Ceramic outdoor mobiles

Form + Field 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

For our second annual gift guide, we’re taking a slightly different tack to the usual gift guide. As we’ve gotten older, gift-giving has mostly given way to spending meaningful time with our loved ones, whether that be through food, travel, or new experiences. This year we’re sharing some of our favorite ideas for creating memories with your friends and family - experiences that we’ve either done ourselves, given as gifts, or have on our bucket list!

FOR THE FOODIE

Outstanding in the Field     image source

Outstanding in the Field image source

Outstanding in the Field

Forget farm to table, Outstanding in the Field takes the table to the farm! Set in stunning landscapes, this dinner party at a single long table is an unforgettable experience.

Kaori’s Kitchen     image source

Kaori’s Kitchen image source

Kaori’s Kitchen

Mochi class, anyone? If you don’t share our love of mochi, you can learn how to make ramen, sushi, or any of the other Asian dishes offered by daughter and mother team Kaori and Yuki.

FOR THE MAKER

Meryl Pataky  Neon Art: Joseph Kosuth

Meryl Pataky Neon Art: Joseph Kosuth

Meryl Pataky - Neon Workshops

Make your own neon masterpiece! Meryl is a local Bay Area artist focusing on neon and mixed media, and she happens to also hold neon workshops where you can create your own abstract designs or a pair of neon boobs from a selection of pre-designed patterns.

sfclayworks     image source

sfclayworks image source

sfclayworks

Ceramic art has made a huge comeback in recent years, so why not make your own? sfclayworks is located in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco and offers all-levels ceramics classes for wheel throwing and handbuilding in the evening. The best part? There’s plenty of parking.

FOR THE TRAVELER

Esalen     image source

Esalen

Even for the non-hippies, Esalen is a must-do at least once in your life! Built on the side of a cliff in Big Sur, Esalen offers hot springs, intimate workshops, and the most delicious vegetarian meals that will win over even the most ardent of carnivores. One of our most memorable experiences period.

Sea Ranch     image source

Sea Ranch image source

Sea Ranch

For the architecture enthusiast, Sea Ranch is the perfect weekend getaway just 2-1/2 hours north of San Francisco. The upcoming SFMOMA exhibition sums it up perfectly, “Designed by a small group of Bay Area architects and designers in the early 1960s, the development was envisioned as a progressive, inclusive community, guided by the idealistic principles of good design, economy of space, and harmony with the natural environment.” Rent an iconic house designed by Charles Moore, William Turnbull, or perhaps, Joseph Esherick.

What are some of your favorite experiences to give or receive? Share with us in the comments!