Fontana Arte

A uniquely Italian modern

Fontana arte max ingrand lighting brass italy Pietro chiesa
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Above: Detail of a floor lamp designed by Max Ingrand in the 1950’s. Photo: Ross Floyd for Wright Auctions

In 1932 the Luigi Fontana Company, an industry leader in advanced glass manufacturing techniques and design, created an arts division for the purpose of producing consumer decorative goods. They called the new company Fontana Arte and its first artistic director was designer, architect, publisher, teacher, entrepreneur, and all around polymath Gio Ponti. Ponti brought with him renowned designer Pietro Chiesa, whose works incorporated inventive and new uses for glass, a material in which Ponti saw tremendous design potential.

Ponti’s and Chiesa’s designs were immediately well received and soon the company was the source for exclusive, high-end home products. After the devastation of the Second World War and the death of Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand, a master glazier famed for his stunning stained-glass windows, was invited to head the art direction team at Fontana Arte. Ingrand brought Fontana Arte back to life with new and contemporary designs, and doing so with full respect to the original vision Gio Ponti had set for the company. Ingrand’s exquisite lighting designs are among Fontana Arte’s most enduring, beautiful, and sought after pieces today.

More than 80 years later Fontana Arte is still in business with its entire line now focused on lighting. The company continues to hire respected and talented designers and still manufactures its products in Italy. And since Fontana Arte does not re-issue any of its older lines, the prices for some of their classic, 1950’s pieces can reach astronomical amounts. However, photos are free to look at!

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The men who started Fontana Arte and made it legend.

Gio Ponti. (1891 – 1979)

Gio Ponti. (1891 – 1979)

Pietro Chiesa (1892 - 1948)

Pietro Chiesa (1892 – 1948)

Max Ingrand (1908 - 1969)

Max Ingrand (1908 – 1969)

To learn more about Fontana Arte and its designers here are a few book suggestions.