Gio Ponti inspires immersive new design exhibition

Genius Loci is a new series of exhibitions setting up a dialogue between architecture, design and art within exceptional private residences. The inaugural show (16 – 24 October 2021) takes over Gio Ponti's French villa, L’Ange Volant

White villa in france
Sans 90°, Mathias Kiss, 2021, an installation exclusive for Genius Loci à L’Ange Volant de Gio Ponti ©
(Image credit: TBC)

Genius Loci launches the first in a series of immersive exhibitions with a tribute to Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti. The sensory experience, which is being held at the Ponti-designed Paris villa, L’Ange Volant, from October 16 – 24 2021, showcases the responses of artists, architects and designers to the building.

L’Ange Volant by Gio Ponti

Le Saint light installation

Le Saint light installation by Franklin Azzi 

(Image credit: Franklin Azzi)

The neo-Palladian villa, located in Garches on the outskirts of Paris, and built in 1927, was Ponti’s sole architectural project in France. Its romantic name, L’Ange Volant (the flying angel) was inspired by a wedding held barely a year after its completion. It celebrates the union between the villa’s commissioner, Tony Bouilhet, and Carla Borletti, Gio Ponti’s niece, who met her future husband on the building site while visiting her uncle from Italy.

This romantic spirit has inspired both emerging and established figures of art, architecture and design, who also nod to the villa’s elegant spaces, in the exhibition curated by Marion Vignal. Specially commissioned works come courtesy of Laurent Grasso, Mathias Kiss, Franklin Azzi, Sophie Dries, Julian Mayor, Maloles Antignac, Agnès Sébyleau, and Damian O’Sullivan, among others. These and other contemporary pieces – from the likes of Alicja Kwade, Mao Natsunaga and Studio KO, for example – are placed in juxtaposition with historical works by Gio Ponti and friends, including Ico Parisi and Piero Fornasetti.

Genius Loci design exhibition

Pink stone with candle holders on

‘Plinth’ by Jonathan Trayte.

(Image credit: Andy Keate, Nilufar Gallery)

The diverse nature of the works encompasses multiple media, from painting and sculpture to installation and fashion, ceramics, music and perfume. The pieces find a natural home in and outside the villa, delighting viewers, who are greeted by a light installation by architect Franklin Azzi floating in the courtyard. Inside, there are objets d’art, from Damian O’Sullivan’s double candle holder to Maloles Antignac’s sculptures, which pay tribute to Ponti’s fascination with the hand, as explored in his ceramics. Sophie Dries’ Murano glass mirror studded with stones makes a glinting foil for Julian Mayor’s low welded-steel table, while in the garden, Mathias Kiss draws angel wings in white inlaid marble.

The multisensory approach is manifest in Jérôme Echenoz’s sound installation, which visitors can enjoy upon their amble upstairs, while Barnabé Fillion was inspired by the lightness of being drawn into the building’s clean lines to create a perfume especially for Genius Loci.

After Paris, Genius Loci will visit Venice, Brussels, Milan, London and Los Angeles in a new celebration of artistically interesting buildings.

Mirror with transparent glass frame photographed on a blue staircase inside Gio Ponti's French villa

‘Alchemia’ mirror by Sophie Dries in collaboration with Nilufar gallery

(Image credit: Sophie Dries)

Glass table on Studio KO

Glass table by Studio KO ©Yann Deret

(Image credit: Studio KO ©Yann Deret)

Silver candlesticks with Candleholder

Candleholder by Damian O’Sullivan

(Image credit: Damian O’Sullivan)

Green mirror with Galerie Italienne

Mirror by Maurizio Donzelli, @Galerie Italienne

(Image credit: Maurizio Donzelli, @Galerie Italienne)


‘L‘Ange Volant, Gio Ponti’ is held from 16 – 24 October 2021

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.