Architect Gio Ponti founded FontanaArte in 1932 as an artistic division of the Luigi Fontana Company. Historically, the company has been a leader in advanced glass manufacturing and design. The company's works were first distinguished by its realization of artistic stained-glass windows, many of which are today still functional elements and ornamental features of churches and cathedrals, among them the Duomo of Milan and the Cathedral of Brasilia. By using glass, Ponti realized what an enormous potential this material could offer in the in the making of furnishing complements for interiors, and he started to design and produce furniture, lamps and objects with glass as the main distinguishing feature. Soon a new collection was ready to be marketed, and his new design concept was being used as a complement to the interior decoration of many houses that he personally designed. Over the years, FontanaArte has had many contributors to its designs, including Pietro Chiesa, Gae Aulenti, Pierluigi Cerri, Piero Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Vittorio Gregotti, Ettore Sottsass, Umberto Riva, Alvaro Siza and Renzo Piano.
Alvaro Siza was born in Matosinhos, Portugal. He graduated in architecture in 1955, at the former School of Fine Arts of the University of Porto and completed his first built work even before ending his studies in 1954, the same year that he first opened his private practice in Porto.
Siza’s work is often described as "poetic modernism". Among his earliest works to gain public attention was a public pool complex he created in the 1960s for Leca da Palmeira, a fishing town and summer resort north of Porto. Completed in 1966, both of the two swimming pools (one for children, the other for adults) as well as the building with changing rooms and a cafe are set into the natural rock formation on the site with unobstructed views of the sea.
Most of his best known works are located in his hometown of Porto: the Boa Nova Tea House (1963), the Faculty of Architecture (1987 — 93), and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (1997). Since the mid-1970s, Siza has been involved in numerous designs for public housing, public pools, and universities.
Between 1995 and 2009, Siza has been working on an architecture museum on Hombroich island, completed in collaboration with Rudolf Finsterwalder. Most recently, he started coordinating the rehabilitation of the monuments and architectonic heritage of Cidade Velha (Old Village) in Santiago, an island of Cape Verde.
In July 2014 Siza announced his decision to donate the large part of his architectural archive to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, Canada, in order to make his materials "accessible alongside the work of other modern and contemporary architects", while also giving specific project archives to the Fundacao Gulbenkian in Lisbon and Fundacao de Serralves in Porto, Portugal.View other products by Alvaro Siza