The Pirelli Tower is Milan's highest building and Gio Ponti's masterpiece.When it was hit by a light aircraft two weeks before the opening of Ponti's retrospective at the Design Museum it could have destroyed one of the landmarks of Italian postwar design, but the timing was, in publicity terms, perfect.
This is Italian style at its best, ranging from smooth Modernist design to sophisticated artisanal craftsmanship. The clear design invites you to stroll around and dip into curated 'islands' of the different decades of Ponti's oeuvre.What it achieves is an immediate understanding of his spectacularly multifaceted career and style. Snuggled together in the late '40s, for example, is his chromed-steeled Pavoni coffee-machine, epitomising the dolce vita, with highly decorated and ornamented glass bottles for Vernini. There are the easily recognised Modernist examples such as the Superleggera chair, together with less-known objects from Ponti's collaborations with applied-artists.
The trouble is that while it is a full exhibition, it feels empty. Elegantly designed, but the meaning has been taken out in many places. It is populated with objects that are devoid of Ponti's surrounding rooms. Architecture and interiors are mostly represented as photographs but not as spaces.
Also missing is the acknowledgement of