Bust a move

Freak out: Tracing the radical architecture of Italian discotheques in the 60s and 70s
By Lewis Firth | Art | 2 December 2015

Interior of Piper, Turin designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, 1966. © Pietro Derossi.

Top image: The stage and audio-visual system inside Piper, Turin, designed by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, 1966. © Pietro Derossi.

During the 60s and 70s there was an architectural movement happening in Italy that was defined easily by its creatively liberating ideals, a direct opposition to banal, post-war modernism.

Gruppo 999, Superstudio and UFO – architects part of the Radical Design movement – were the primary instigators for the bulk of unconventionally dressed discotheques that were opening around the Mediterranean country during that period.

Buildings and rooms were considered more like spaces – blank canvases, really – that longed for some multidisciplinary experimentation and an artistic hand. It was enthralling for the time. And they were known as ‘Pipers’: a title taken from the first disco (of the same name) of this style, which opened in 1965. (Think: interchangeable furnishings, the latest tech of the period, all focusing on a stage – with acts like Pink Floyd performing – that was punctuated by Manzoni and Warhol art. Yep: it was a killer.)

Unfortunately this distinct, architectural movement was short-lived, ending in the mid-70s. Most were bought and repurposed for commercial ventures – does that ring a bell? Of course: it’s happening to many of London’s idiosyncratic bars due to the blinding banality of gentrification.

Architecture, design and integration regarding the Radical movement will be discussed further in a talk (“Designer Discos”) on 16 December by Ben Kelly, Amanda Moss and Catharine Rossi. It’s an exhibition, talk and period frothing with culturally rich goodness – check it.

Radical Disco: Architecture and Nigthlife in Italy, 1965 – 1957 runs from 8 December 2015 – 10 January 2016, ICA Fox Reading Room, Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH



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