Since my days as an architecture student, I’ve been fascinated by Gio Ponti. His mannerist approach to modernism and free-thinking exploration of all aspects of design have always resonated with me. The way he created environments, seemlessly moving between architectural built form, interiors and all aspects of design, is something that I also strive for.
With all this in mind, a few weeks ago I had a full Gio Ponti emersion at the Hotel Parco dei Principi. Built on the cliffs of Sorrento, on land once owned by the King of Spain and the ruins an historic villa, the hotel dominates the bay of Naples.
It was on this extraordinary site in the early 1960’s that Ponti was commissioned to build what is possibly the first luxury boutique hotel. The building itself is pared back and almost institutional in parts but acts a conductor for the light and colour of the sea and weather. Throughout the hotel textural wash of blues in specially designed ceramics contrast with a Formica finish to Ponti’s furniture deployed across the scheme.
It is important to mention two other influential designer/artists who I also greatly admire, Ico Parisi and Fausto Melotti, who collaborated with Ponti on the project to create ceramics and lighting. These two giants of Italian design sit perfectly within the whole adding to the sense of gesamtkunstwerk that Hotel Parco dei Principi embodies. For me it is the sense of place and the relevance of design in its setting which combine to create an extraordinary experience.
The Hotel Parco dei Principi is a reflection of Ponti’s genius and a true ‘moment in time’ for Italian design and culture in the post-war boom period. If you’re open to a little Neapolitan odyssey, I’d really recommend it.