Fontana Arte was founded in 1932 by Gio Ponti and Luigi Fontana, who was the owner of a large company dedicated to glass. FontanaArte has undertaken a very defined process since the beginning of the study: new creative languages reflect the potential of a raw material such as glass, whose identity has undergone a major transformation due to technical changes introduced by modern industry.
Gio Ponti, always focused on redefining with a different grammar the concept of contemporary design, finds in Pietro Chiesa the perfect travel companion.. Together FontanaArte quickly become a major player in the development of the Italian national landscape of early modern era.
This is a research that thrives from the collaboration with many top artists and that has a privileged spot in large bourgeois indoor spaces. These are like huge experimenting laboratory models where to sketch out those models that will become furniture, figures, art, mirrors and lamps. FontanaArte collection reaches every corner of the house. Ponti and Chiesa seem to feel particularly interested in the contrast between the methods, techniques, traditional methods, innovations and opportunities of industrial scale production. This is a constant and deep dialogue, which is the root and the very identity of the company.
There are still significant traces in the catalog from this period of extraordinary creativity. In this Fontana Arte catalog, the objects designed by Ponti and Chiesa have acquired the status of classics. br>
the end of the First World War coincided with a radical change in the social and cultural scene of the country.
This new context required a reorganization of the production model and a new definition of products.
The extraordinary works, designed for large bourgeois houses had to be replaced with suitable products for the new dimensions of the apartments. Then, new buyers will be added to the traditional elite clientel. Despite those difficulties, FontanaArte did not yield to the temptation of popular product, even though it was surrounded by a very attentive group to the dynamics of multinational market, since the caprice of -large numbers will never seduce FontanaArte. It is not the concept of quality what changes, it is the way of expressing it. This is where the constant aesthetic search comes along with an interest in the functional requieurements of the product. Moreover, thanks to the experiments conducted over the past few years, a new culture of modern projects was consolidated in Italy, which revolves around a central axis on the basis of the relationship between the function and use of materials.
Despite staying close to the company, Gio Ponti ceded the position of artistic director. In 1954, Max Ingrand took his place. Under his leadership, FontanaArte is directed towards a gradual modernization. Basically, the FontanaArte evolution follows the guidelines of the lighting industry, where the relationship between art and performance, form and project, impose a more incisive renewal.
Then, Gio Ponti was asked to resume the position of artistic director in 1967. He managed to synthesize all the experience gained in recent years in some of the most extraordinary catalog of lamps: Pirelli series, Bilia and the Cartocci, which today remain as models of the perfect harmony. In addition to the Pontis’ projects, it cannot be forgotten some projects designed by the technical department of FontanaArte such as: Uovo lamp and some furniture made of single sheets of tempered glass or colors, striking examples of modernity.
In 1979, after a short period of ups and downs, FontanaArte acquired a private group of entrepreneurs and the operational and administrative management of the company was placed in the hands of Carlo Guglielmi. It was immediately decided to refocus the efforts of the company in product quality and a culture of modernist project. After several years of collaboration with FontanaArte, the young Gae Aulenti took the artistic direction.
Respecting the history and identity of FontanaArte, Gae Aulenti imposes a strict functional rationalism.
However, she collaborates with many different young or expert designers and carries out a study that explores the most significant experiences of Italian design. In this way, she hosts both the very early signs of postmodernism and the studies of pop and conceptual art, moving between asceticism and formal leisure layoffs.
The 80s are a crucial decade for FontanaArte. This is definitely a period of unparalleled creativity that has definitely placed the company in the group of the main protagonists of the Italian and international design. But they are also the years that mark the turning point for the lighting industry center of gravity, with a parallel emphasis on the technological implications of the project. In this regard, it is emblematic the Fontana Arte meeting with Piero Castiglioni, who was one of the first to explore the industrial applications of halogen sources. It should be highlighted the Franco Raggi Velo lamp, an authentic experimental virtuosity in the art of glass. This does not mean abandoning the proposed elements of furniture, since requested by Fontana Arte, Renzo Piano designed a library using the glass as a structural and load element.
The new direction of Fontana Arte is also concentrated in a series of acquisitions, that increases and complements the expertise and the range of products and solutions. Meanwhile, there are new dynamics of collaborations with leading Italian and foreign architects in the heart of their strategies.
Behind this, there two specific objectives: to fuel the production in the great culture of the project and, at the same time, to expand the scope beyond the traditional world of free domestic interiors.
In 1998, the Association for Industrial Design awards FontanaArte the gold Compass price for their career. This price highlighted the way in which the company has created a dynamic and creative environment in collaboration with other artists for the last twenty years, which has renamed one of the historic names of Italian design.
In 2010, FontanaArte enters the Nice Spa group of international reference in the field of home automation with a broad range of integrated systems for the automation of gates, garage doors, car parking systems, solar protection and wireless alarm systems . For FontanaArte, Nice is the opportunity of a strong industrial base for the future and it facilitates the strategic pursuit of a new international language. Light and movement: ideal meeting between the two companies that have always been oriented towards the design and innovation for the home.